McKinley Meets With Agricultural Leaders
Congressman David B. McKinley, was in New Martinsville on Oct. 21 at the West Virginia Extension Office for an agricultural roundtable.
He answered questions from leaders of the community about their concerns with the local roads, farming, the wildlife population, the local water source, and the need for more federal funding for farming in the state.
Mckinley started the meeting with some opening remarks concerning his background as a civil engineer and the work he does is Congress to help and promote West Virginia. He said he has a genuine desire to help the people in West Virginia. He said he is an advocate of the use of coal but still wants to promote the oil and gas resources available in the state. He believes in a diverse workforce and puts farming at the top of the list.
McKinley said he believes in roundtable discussions such as the that day, saying he spends much of his time meeting with local people so he can take their message back to Washington, D.C.
Local participants in the roundtable discussion included Wayne McKeever, West Virginia Conservation Agency, Upper Ohio Conservation District, secretary-treasurer; Robin Yeager, West Virginia Farm Bureau, Wetzel County Secretary; Dutch Brown, Young Farmer Committee Member; John Jennings, Wetzel County Farmers Market Coordinator; Linda Henderson, Wetzel County 4-H Leader; Abby DeLaney, WVU Extension Service, Wetzel County; and Martha and Dorman Ash, WV Farm Bureau, Tyler County.
Several issues of importance were discussed. John Jennings, a local farmer who is now farming his land using High Tunnels, explained to Congressman McKinley how it works. After experiencing problems with the deer population, Jennings decided to give it a try.
By using a high tunnel, which is similar to a green house, he said he was able to get his tomatoes and peppers planted early and harvest early as well. He said he made a profit of around $5,000 this year off of one high tunnel. Jennings said the cost of is about $8,000 for a 2,200 square foot high tunnel. He believes it will be the future of West Virginia farming.
Jennings explained that West Virginia farmers are in need of federal funds if they are to continue producing food. He said it is very hard to compete for federal money with the big farming states.
McKeever reiterated Jennings remarks, saying he would like for McKinley to try and find federal funds for West Virginia farmers. He said he knows how difficult it can be with the competition from larger states in the midwest, but if we are going to produce food, we need a share of the money.
Robin Yeager, from the farm bureau, said the regulatory agencies in the state and at the federal level, in particular the EPA, are making it extremely hard on farmers. She said lack of enforcement against the drillers and over enforcement against farmers gets very frustrating.
Linda Henderson told of the problems she is experiencing with wildlife predators, in particular coyotes. She said it is nearly impossible to raise sheep or ducks, and even cattle. She has basically had to shut down due to the losses from the coyotes, she also spoke about the EPA and DEP coming onto her land uninvited. Dorman Ash of Tyler County complained of the same problem.
McKinley said he would take these things back to Washington and work to try and find solutions to help West Virginia.
Roads were another major concern, with Henderson mentioning one in particular which is nearly impossible to travel. She and others spoke of the run around they claim to get when they call the Division of Highways. McKinley said this bothers him because he understands that without good roads people do not want to do business in an area. He said he would work to try and find a fix for their concerns.
McKinley thanked each one for coming to the meeting and for the information they gave him. He said he felt that is the best way to get things accomplished, by getting the message first hand from those who are affected.