WVU Extension Service is proud to support our farmers and agribusiness owners through education, outreach and face-to-face interaction. Through partnerships and collaboration, we offer courses, training and other information to help you and your business be successful, while staying up to date on the latest policy and business news for the agricultural community.
- West Virginia Annie’s Project. West Virginia is home to nearly 10,000 female farmers. To help this important group of agribusiness owners, WVU Extension Service’s Women in Ag program is hosting a series of workshops throughout the state (and online) to provide them with tools and resources needed to run a successful business. Workshops will be held in Kingwood, Martinsburg, Lewisburg, Leroy, Glenville, Triadelphia and Moorefield. Courses also will be available online. Cost is $30 and space is limited to 25 participants per site on a first-come, first-served basis. Details, including dates, times and locations, can be found online or by contacting Dee Singh-Knights .
- West Virginia Agritourism Initiative, Martinsburg, WV . This is your one stop shop to explore agritourism and related opportunities. Four sessions will be hosted at the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg. Sessions will take place April 7, April 28, May 12 and May 26. Each session will last from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Statewide Food Safety Courses . As noted in the food safety article in this e-newsletter, West Virginia University Extension Service is helping local growers navigate food safety changes and providing education and training to ensure consumer safety. WVU Extension Service joins the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and West Virginia State University to offer a series of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) training sessions for fruit and vegetable growers, as well as others interested in learning about produce. There also will be a series of sessions focused on writing a food safety plan offered to those who have already attended a produce safety class. Learn more about these workshops.
- WVU Women’s Business Center Spring Courses. The WVU Women’s Business Center provides training and business coaching specifically designed for women. The Center is open to students, faculty and staff, as well as community members. A spring schedule of courses is available online.
- Farm to Cafeteria Conference - The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will take place April 25-27, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The biennial conference will include over 1,000 stakeholders who source local food to school cafeterias and provide a culture of food across America. The events cover three days of “learning, networking and movement building to strengthen local food systems and grow healthier communities.”
IN THE NEWS
- Legislative Bill SB 375 Relating to Farmers Markets – This Bill passed the senate with a unanimous vote. It is expected to be in judiciary committee in the WV House of Delegates during the week of March 5. "The bill would transfer rules and regulations of farmers markets from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Department of Agriculture. It would also change permitting processes for vendors and markets." Read more about how this bill could help people in all aspects of the food industry.
- Legislative Bill SB 446 – Creating Agritourism Responsibility Act . West Virginia agritourism stakeholders are working diligently to help our farm operators take advantage of the growing trend for authentic agritourism experiences. The West Virginia Legislature recently passed a bill to enact the Agritourism Responsibility Act which will provide protection for agritourism businesses by offering them limited liability similar to that of the whitewater and skiing industries.
- USDA Announces More Local Control for School Meal Operations . U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Steve Censky announced two new efforts to provide states and school districts with additional flexibility and support to operate more efficient school meal programs.
- LOSING LOCAL? The Unfulfilled Promise of Local Food Access. In 2017, Local Organic Y’All conducted new and extensive research into local-organic sourcing and selling by the 20 supermarket brands operating in North Carolina. “If local food is still a driver of change in mainstream supermarkets, the evidence has not yet shown up in North Carolina stores. While organic product from out-of-state is surging, sourcing and selling of local product appears stagnant or moving backwards. One might conclude that the promise of ‘local’ in North Carolina grocery stores is dying.” Learn more about North Carolina’s successes and challenges in sourcing and selling local products, as well as tips that your area may find useful.
- AgDay365 Year 2 Campaign: “Food: How it’s Made.” The American Agri-women Association is rolling into their second year of “ AgDay 365: Ag Day is Every Day,” as part of their American Agri-Women’s consumer-facing advocacy campaign. This campaign builds on efforts in 2017, with the expanded theme of “Food: How it’s Made.” The goal is to continue connecting consumers with producers and others in agriculture to highlight our safe, abundant and affordable food supply. Learn how you can play a part in this endeavor.
- Insurance Program Now Available for West Virginia Farmers Markets and Vendors. The West Virginia Farmers Market Association (WVFMA) announced the launch of a new insurance program available to West Virginia farmers market vendors. Vendors can obtain easy and affordable liability insurance for protection against claims of bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal and advertising injury liability and the litigation costs to defend against such claims.
- American Agri-Women Annual Leadership Academy. American Agri-Women hosts an annual Leadership Academy , a free webinar series designed to provide education, leadership support and networking opportunities for members and non-members. The series focuses on a variety of topics from business and management skills, to record-keeping, business planning, marketing strategies and others.
- Ag Apprenticeship Toolkit Available. The Ag Apprenticeship Learning Network has released the Ag Apprenticeship Toolkit, a comprehensive guide to establishing or improving an agricultural apprenticeship on your farm or ranch. The resources include tools, suggestions and external links to supplementary resources. The 94-page toolkit is available free online in a downloadable PDF.
- Farmland Access Legal Toolkit Launched. The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School has launched a new online resource, the Farmland Access Legal Toolkit, to help farmers and landowners affordably access, transfer and conserve farmland. The free, online toolkit explains legal arrangements that provide more affordable and equitable farmland access and help landowners balance earning income with making their land affordable to the next generation. Tools range from creative leasing to affirmative agricultural easements.
- 2018 Rural Business Development Grant Applications Now Open. The application deadline is April 30, 2018. Please contact Lisa Sharp with USDA Rural Development for any questions regarding the application process. Email Lisa Sharp for more information.
- USDA Grants for Specialty Crops, the Local Food Sector and Agricultural Marketing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced nearly $89 million in available funding to support specialty crop growers, strengthen local and regional food systems and explore new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. USDA helps fund projects that bolster rural economies across the country. Learn more about available grant opportunities.