Jefferson agricultural preservation plan presented

October 25, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A proposal to help Jefferson County's agricultural industry thrive in coming years was presented to the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday.

The effort is part of the proposed Rural Option initiative, which was announced in November 1999 as a way to start preserving the county's agricultural economy.

There has been increased interest in preserving the agriculture economy, particularly in light of the area's population growth.

After Rural Option was proposed, a Jefferson County Agricultural Task Force was formed to determine specific ways to preserve the county's agricultural economy.


The 32-member task force, made up of farmers and non-farmers, came up with a 10-year objective and a five-year action plan, those involved in the project told commissioners.

The 10-year objective seeks to create an economic environment where traditional and nontraditional agricultural operations can thrive. They would be aided by strengthening industry profitability, increasing wages, supporting vendor networks and other efforts, the plan said.

Among a number of objectives, the five-year action plan includes:

  • Creating an agricultural development office.

  • Building a shared-use processing facility for farmers.

  • Creating an "agribusiness ombudsman" position.

  • Developing a capital access program.

  • Developing a leadership program with the local Chamber of Commerce.

  • Establishing a program to recruit new farmers.

The focus will now turn to implementation of the plan, said Roger Boyer, head of the Potomac Headwaters Resource, Conservation and Development Council, the agency that helped lead the effort to develop the plan.

Boyer said he and others working on the plan may go to the Legislature or to the commissioners for funding for the plan.

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