Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced funding up to $4,795,300 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a livestock systems management project through West Virginia University (WVU). The project will provide financial and technical assistance to Appalachian farmers and agricultural producers to support adopting climate-smart practices, as well as strengthen marketing initiatives for grass-fed beef products.
“West Virginia’s farmers, ranchers and rural development professionals play a critical role in our state’s economy and provide nutritious, locally grown food for their communities. I’m pleased USDA is investing in this critical project with WVU and their partners to support our farmers and agricultural producers as they adopt more climate-friendly practices, and I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this funding for years to come. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue advocating for resources to support West Virginia’s agricultural professionals and organizations,” said Senator Manchin.
“Farmers and agricultural producers are important contributors to West Virginia’s economy, and this grant funding from USDA provides resources for them to succeed today and in the future,” Senator Capito said. “West Virginia University is a great place to lead this project, and I’m proud to have helped secure this funding that will allow them to support our next generation of agricultural leaders in West Virginia.”
“Livestock production systems in West Virginia rely heavily on our ability to grow and harvest forages on our challenging mountainous topography. Increasing the capacity of farmers to better manage the forage resources in their fields, as we deal with a changing climate, will ensure a move toward more sustainable and profitable operations in the state,” said Ronnie Helmondollar, Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Unit Director, WVU Extension.
“There is a growing trend among consumers to better understand where and how their food is raised. One phase of the GRASS project will be to explore the feasibility of a market for grass-based, local Appalachian meat products, while at the same time implementing practices that enhance soil health and carbon storage in our livestock producers’ operations. If successful, this will be another step toward the goal of making West Virginia livestock operations sustainable and profitable for the next generation,” said Brian Wickline, Agriculture and Natural Resources Monroe County Extension Agent, WVU Extension.
“We cannot be more proud as WVU Extension faculty lead this effort to work across states to create more opportunities for our farmers and producers to prosper while increasing the adoption of sustainable practices in agriculture,” said Dr. Jorge H. Atiles, Dean, WVU Extension & Engagement.
USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities provides funding for projects across the country to expand economic opportunities for local farmers and agricultural producers, with an emphasis on small and underserved producers. The project announced today will provide financial, technical and marketing assistance to Appalachian farmers and producers to support their transition to climate-smart practices, including land management plans, prescribed grazing, bale grazing, native grass and silvopasture establishment, incorporation of legumes and non-leguminous forbs and use of traditional and novel soil amendments. WVU is partnering with Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, West Virginia State University, the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA), the Soil and Water Conservation Division of Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (VaDCR-SWCD) and Hickory Nut Gap (HNG) for this project.