Program pairs W.Va. farmers, craft beverage producers

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Program pairs W.Va. farmers, craft beverage producers
A newly poured ale awaits a customer in a West Virginia brewery near Beckley. (Photo courtesy Radovan)

The craft beverage industry in West Virginia is getting a boost from the , which has launched an initiative to expand the use of specialty crops in state-made drinks.

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Bill Woodrum, director of the institute's entrepreneurship and agricultural programs, said the burgeoning industry can help boost the growth of other state industries as well.

“The number of craft beverage producers in West Virginia has nearly tripled since 2014,” Woodrum said. “We want to help residents capitalize on this momentum and connect them to local sources for their ingredients.”

To help connect growers to bottlers, the instutute is teaming with Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, in Moorefield, and Unlimited Future and the Wild Ramp, in Huntington.

The collaboration will include a series of networking events and seminars that focus on specialty crop production and their utilization of specialty crops in the production of craft beverages and spirits.

The institute will also launch an extensive marketing campaign to promote the management of specialty crops—including fruits, vegetables, berries, and herbs—and their use in beverage production, Woodrum said.

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“Our goal is help at least 200 state farmers boost sales of the crops they already grow or expand by growing new specialty crops while encouraging bottlers to create additional product lines,” Woodrum said.

“We believe these efforts will result in meaningful sales increases for both farmers and craft beverage producers.”

Funding for the project is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact Woodrum at or 304-781-1670.

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