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Capito hosts roundtable, business tour

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), hosted a West Virginia Farm Bill Priorities Roundtable Monday in Morgantown, with U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

Boozman is one of the primary authors of the upcoming Farm Bill.

During the roundtable, the senators were joined by West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, as well as state leaders from a variety of agricultural fields to discuss the Farm Bill and the impacts it will have on West Virginia.

Stakeholders from industries such as farming, nutrition, education, forestry, veterinarian services, credit unions and internet service providers participated.

Boozman has been holding roundtable discussions on the Farm Bill across the country and Monday’s discussion marked the first event since the Farm Bill extension was announced.

Later, Capito and Boozman, as well as Leonhardt, visited Mountaintop Beverage in Morgantown, where they toured the facility and met with company leaders. Mountaintop Beverage uses a high-tech thermal heating process to commercially sterilize beverages and extend their shelf life, and aims to strengthen the dairy infrastructure in West Virginia, create jobs and provide local dairy products to children and families across the state.

“West Virginia agriculture generates $24 billion in economic output and supports over 176,000 jobs,” Capito said. “This proves just how vital agriculture operations are to the success of our communities and why I continue to advocate on behalf of the inclusion of our state’s priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill.

“It was an honor to host Sen. Boozman in Morgantown to hear from our industry leaders directly, and to see our innovative operations first hand. I’m thankful for the support and perspective of those that participated in our roundtable discussion and for Mountaintop Beverage’s leadership and desire to strengthen our agricultural infrastructure. These visits provided critical details as I advocate on behalf West Virginia’s agriculture priorities in Washington.”

Boozman said listening to stakeholders is imperative.

“Our work on the new farm bill continues in 2024 … Sen. Capito graciously offered to host the first listening session of 2024 and I appreciate her efforts to bring together West Virginia’s producers, agri-business operators, rural community leaders and nutrition advocates to visit with us. The valuable input we received at our roundtable discussion and our visit to Mountaintop Beverage will inform our efforts to pass a new farm bill that will help grow West Virginia’s agriculture industry and its rural communities.”

Leonhardt said having a chance to speak to folks across a range of businesses will be key to the success of the bill.

“West Virginia’s farmers, educators, foresters and conservationists, among many others, had an excellent opportunity today to sit in a room together and speak up for agriculture,” he said. “The Farm Bill provides programs that are vital to the success and continuity of our farming operations and the health of our citizens. We appreciate the opportunity to add to this discussion of Farm Bill priorities.”