Directory connects W.Va. farmers, consumers during crisis

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Directory connects W.Va. farmers, consumers during crisis
The sun sets over farmland in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. (Photo courtesy Fred Respini)

Officials at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture are working with producers and farmers impacted by COVID-19 mitigation efforts by facilitating communication between producers and potential buyers.

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The department's business development and marketing staff have received calls from multiple producers are who experiencing a surplus of food or other burdens due to the pandemic, according to Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

To assist these affected businesses, the department will provide an on-going directory to those who are interested in being connected with a local West Virginia farmer and their availability of food.

“We are early in the growing season but many of our West Virginia farmers have lost potential buyers with the shutdown of business such as restaurants," Leonhardt said.

"That does not mean there is a lack of need within the food supply but an indication that many businesses have opted to close their businesses to help reduce the spread of the virus. Our hope is to connect those with food to those who need it."

Producers who are interested in being added to the list can reach out to the WVDA Business Development Division. In order to add items to the distribution list, producers should be prepared to provide contact information and details of available products.

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“With the rush for supplies, there is an increasing strain on our food system. Folks need to remember to explore all options for sustenance which includes local producers, as well as growing your own food,” Leonhardt said.

“We have advocated for local farmers’ markets and all agriculture operations to stay open during this time. Consumers should take advantage of them while taking the necessary precautions.”

For more information, contact Beth Southern 304-550-3620 at bsouthern@wvda.us

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