“Agriculture can and will be part of the solution to stabilize and grow our economy with the right plan,” stated Kent Leonhardt, West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture. West Virginians consume over $7 billion dollars of food each year, but produce only $800 million dollars of food. The commissioner believes growing and producing more food in the Mountain State will strengthen West Virginia’s food system, boost farmers’ profitability, and create new jobs in agriculture that will benefit individuals and local economies. ¹
Barriers to small farm profitability
The average farm in West Virginia is 175 acres. Farmers face several barriers to operate a successful small farm enterprise. Achieving profitability with limited production yield on less land is a major challenge. Farmers have fewer options to diversify small operations. They experience difficulty finding the right market mix and scaling production to serve larger markets. Additionally, lack of infrastructure and distribution are common barriers.
The West Virginia Small Farm Conference offers solutions
The 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference offers solutions to unlock the potential of West Virginia small farms to produce food profitably. The conference will take place February 21-24, 2018 at the Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, West Virginia. The goal of the conference is to help farmers develop a successful small farming enterprise by providing reliable, tested knowledge about current trends, needed skills, and latest production and operation information. The conference also aims to strengthen West Virginia’s food system by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale and retail marketing, and consumption.
There will be a wide variety of educational workshops during the three-day event. Farmers will learn about livestock, fruit, vegetable and specialty crop production. In-depth discussions led by experts in farm management, marketing, finance and risk, will benefit farm enterprises of all types. Food producers will learn how to add value to their farm products, utilize agricultural cooperatives to gain market access. Special sessions will highlight West Virginia’s Farm-to-School initiative, Farmers’ Markets and agritourism opportunities in the Mountain State.
Know your farmer, know your food
The Winter Blues Farmers Market will take place on Thursday, February 22, 2018, from 4-8 p.m. at the Morgantown Event Center. The community event is family-friendly and open to the public. The market will showcase local food, goods and products. Enjoy the aroma of delicious food cooking while browsing the market. Area chefs will be on-hand to prepare pay-as-you-go dishes and entrees with locally grown food.
What: The 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference
When: February 21-24, 2018
Where: Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, West Virginia
Cost: Registration is $70 per day, or $190/3 days for adults. Students, active military and veterans receive a discounted rate. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, Friday dinner, and conference materials. A $10 convenience fee increase per person per day for walk-in registrations.
Link to register and learn more: https://extension.wvu.edu/conferences/small-farm-conference
- 2017 Annual West Virginia Agricultural Statistics Bulletin. No. 48. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, West Virginia Field Office. 2017. www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/West_Virginia/Publications/Annual_Statistical_Bulletin/2017/Bulletin2017-All.pdf. Date Accessed 5 Feb 2018.