While the seven candidates for West Virginia agriculture commissioner may disagree on key agricultural issues, they all agree that federal regulation poses the biggest threat to state agriculture.
The upcoming agriculture commissioner race is to replace outgoing Commissioner Gus Douglass. Douglass, one of the longest serving agriculture commissioners in the nation, served five four-year terms from 1964-1984, and five since 1992. Douglass’ departure represents the first time the position has been open for 20 years.
Of the seven candidates, five are running in the Democratic primary, with one Republican and one Independent already selected by their respective parties. The agriculture commissioner race is one of the few competitive statewide offices.
In an agricultural forum held earlier this week, the candidates had the chance to express their views on the future of farming in West Virginia. At the forum, all seven candidates identified the Environmental Protection Agency as the biggest threat to West Virginia agriculture. In particular, the EPA was singled out because of its ongoing effort to protect the Chesapeake Bay. EPA regulators have limited the amounts of pollutants and sediment that can be released into the Chesapeake Bay and Chesapeake waterways. The West Virginia Panhandle is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Candidates also pointed out the threat from environmental and animal rights activists, citing recent conflicts in Iowa over animal abuse and undercover activist videos.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer