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NAME: Bob Beach
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture
COUNTY OF RESIDENCE: Monongalia
BIOGRAPHY: 53 years Agricultural experience: Farm raised- 800 acre cattle farm, 4-H/FFA-Officer, Meat cutter-Manager, Perishable Meat Commodity Buyer, Multi-store Supervisor of perishable retail grocery ($4 million annual budget), Political Science-Fairmont State University, Chairman of House Committee on Agriculture, Legislative Committee on Agriculture (19 years House and Senate), Southern Legislative Conference- Agricultural Committee member, WVU Davis College of Agriculture Visitation Committee. BeachforWV.com
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. What do you see as the role of the Commissioner of Agriculture in spurring the economic growth of agriculture in West Virginia?
The definition of Agriculture goes beyond farming to include economic development, jobs, and income. The role of the Commissioner is to manage the Department, but more importantly, foster economic and innovative growth within the greater agricultural community. I will work with and for the agricultural community to ensure timely communication including access to needed information and resources.
2. Do you feel the environmental impact of agriculture has been properly addressed? If not, what changes would you favor?
The Department should lead by example and I would encourage other agencies to follow. Recently a Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding exposure to Glyphosate, a main ingredient found in Roundup to be the source of his current medical condition. As your Commissioner I will discontinue use of Glyphosate product on property owned and operated by the WVDA.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
3. How will you educate and assist farmers to protect water quality for future farmers and the public?
As a member of the legislature I have either co-sponsor or voted for legislation protecting our water resources. The WVDA is in fact a regulatory agency first, and must carry out the demands of code. However, we should advocate for farmers to ensure legislation does not hinder their operating ability. We should not be regulating water puddles on the farm.
4. What do you see in the future for farm tourism and what will your role be?
Agri-tourism as ample room to grow. WVDA must be an advocate. Recent agri-tourism passed by the legislature, which I had co-sponsored does in fact give flexibility to the farmer. However, marketing for this type of operation must be a higher priority within the Department. Less money should be spent on promoting the Department and more spent promoting the agricultural sector.
5. What do you hope to accomplish as Commissioner of Agriculture?
We must re-establish communication between the Department and our agricultural community. Resources for all, not just for the few. Advocate for all agriculture. Build a regional food supply and processing. Reposition WV as agricultural innovator. Build a plan and work it. Greenhouses in our schools. Grow our dairy farms. Establish a transferable agriculture curriculum, allowing for earned college credit.
6. What experience, training, or education do you have that would make you an effective Commissioner of Agriculture?
54 years of experience from farm to State House. Small scale high tunnel operator. Raised on a large Angus cattle farm in Monongalia County. Trained in food safety/ meat-cutting. Perishable meat commodities buyer, FFA, 4-H. Legislative Committee member on Agriculture, previous Chairman. Southern Legislative Conference, Committee on Agriculture. Previously a member of WVU Davis School of Agriculture Visitation Team.