The commissioner shall be a practical farmer, learned in the science of agriculture, and shall have made agriculture his chief business for a period of ten years immediately preceding his election.
The commissioner shall organize his department and may employ such assistants, agents, clerks, stenographers, chemists, analysts, botanists, microscopists, institute instructors, pomologists, entomologists, veterinarians and such other employees as may be necessary in the performance of the duties of his office and fix their compensation and may require them to give bond for the faithful performance of their duties.
It shall be the duty of the commissioner to certify to the auditor of this State, from time to time, an itemized account of all expenditures made by him for clerk hire and other purposes, whereupon the auditor shall draw his warrant on the treasurer of the State for the payment thereof out of the funds appropriated by the legislature for that purpose, but in no case to exceed such appropriation.
The commissioner shall, within ten days after the expiration of each month, submit to the auditor and treasurer an itemized statement of all moneys received by him during that month, and at the same time pay such money into the treasury of the State.
The duties of the Marketing and Development Division are to establish marketing, promotional and development programs to advance West Virginia agriculture in the domestic and international markets; to provide grading, inspection and market news services to the various elements of the West Virginia agricultural industry; and to regulate and license individuals involved in the marketing of agricultural products.
The Commissioner of Agriculture shall perform the following duties:
(a) Devise means of advancing the agricultural interests of the state and, in the performance of such duty, he or she shall have authority to call upon any state department, or officer of the state or county, to cooperate in promoting the agricultural interests of the state. It shall be the duty of any such department, or officer, upon request of the commissioner to render the assistance desired;
(b) Promote and encourage the organization of such societies and associations as have for their object the improvement and development of the state's agricultural, horticultural and kindred interests, especially in production, processing for market and distribution;
(c) Conduct cooperative work with the United States Department of Agriculture in inspecting and determining the grade and condition of farm produce at collecting centers, receiving centers and shipping points;
(d) Induce the investment of capital in, and immigration into, this state by the dissemination of information relative to the soil, climate, health, natural resources, market opportunities and advantages of the state;
(e) Investigate and report upon the kinds, conditions and extent of the mineral products of the state and their value;
(f) Take charge of the museum of the Department of Agriculture, collect, preserve and exhibit therein specimens of agricultural, horticultural and kindred products, products of the forests, minerals, flora and fauna of the state;
(g) Publish and distribute, from time to time, such reports and bulletins concerning agriculture, horticulture and kindred subjects as may be of value to the farmers of the state and, as conditions may demand, publish a handbook giving the resources of the several counties of the state, the varieties of soil and products, both mineral and vegetable, and the adaptability of the different sections of the state to the different branches of agriculture, horticulture and kindred interests;
(h) Submit a biennial report to the Governor and Legislature containing such information as to the operations of the department as may be helpful to the agricultural interests of the state, together with an itemized statement of all receipts and disbursements during the biennial period covered thereby and giving the name of every person employed during such period, the time employed and the amount paid each employee;
(i) Perform such other duties and exercise such other powers as are provided in this chapter and by general law;
(j) Enter into an agreement with the Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Assistance to transfer without consideration all or part of the approximately seventeen acres of Department of Agriculture property in Beckley, West Virginia, located adjacent to the Jackie Withrow Hospital which was formerly known as Pinecrest Hospital, for construction of a veterans skilled nursing facility; and
(k) Propose rules, including regulatory standards, for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code for the purpose of carrying out the requirements of this chapter.
The commissioner of agriculture is hereby empowered and he shall have authority to accept and receive donations, gifts, contributions, grants, and appropriations of money, services, materials, real estate or other things of value from the United States department of agriculture, or any of its divisions or bureaus, and he shall have authority to use, utilize, develop, or expend such money, services, material, or other contributions in conformity with the conditions and provisions set forth in such grants, appropriations, or donations.
By and with the approval of the governor, the commissioner may accept and receive donations, gifts, contributions, and grants of money, services, materials, real estate, and other things of value from individuals, partnerships, associations, or corporations, and he shall have authority to utilize such contributions to encourage, promote and develop the agricultural interests or industries of the state.
The commissioner is hereby empowered, and he shall have authority, to enter into agreements with any department of state government for the purpose of carrying out any regulatory laws where or when any related functions or duties exist. He shall also have authority to enter into agreements with any city council or county court of the state of West Virginia, for carrying out the provisions of the agricultural laws over which he has enforcement authority.
The commissioner is hereby authorized to promulgate and adopt rules in accordance with the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, fixing dues for permits, licenses, certificates, registrations and laboratory tests when, in the opinion of the commissioner, it becomes necessary to increase these fees in order to cover the costs of providing the services involved or issuing the permits, licenses, certificates or registrations applicable.
Commencing on the first day of July of each year, the assessors shall proceed to gather such statistics as the commissioner of agriculture and the tax commissioner may require, and the printed books, forms, blanks, papers and reports when so completed shall be returned to the commissioner of agriculture, on or before the first day of March next ensuing.
Acts, 1980 Reg. Sess., Ch. 31.
The decision of any two members of such board shall be final, and the department against which such decision shall be shall cease all activities not in conformity with such decision, and the other department shall proceed to carry on the work in conformity therewith.
(a) The Rural Rehabilitation Loan Program is an important tool for the Commissioner of Agriculture to promote investment in the agricultural industry in the state. Rules are needed for the loan program to remain viable.
(b) The commissioner shall propose emergency and legislative rules for approval in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. The rules shall, at a minimum:
(1) Establish minimum requirements and qualifications for the loan committee, including the addition of public members who have agricultural or business loan experience;
(2) Prohibit department employees and loan committee members, and their immediate family members, from receiving program loans;
(3) Establish minimum financial requirements for receiving a program loan;
(4) Require loans to be used for agricultural or related purposes;
(5) Require collateral sufficient to secure the loan;
(6) Establish policies for the application, applicable interest rates, delinquencies, refinancing, collection proceedings, collateral requirements and other aspects of the loan program;
(7) Require the department to advertise the loan program to the public, including information on the department's website and in the department's market bulletin; and
(8) Transfer the servicing of the program loans to a financial institution via competitive bid or to the State Treasurer's office.
(c) The commissioner shall file an annual report to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance regarding the loan program, including information about the loans awarded, loans repaid, loans outstanding, interest rates, delinquency and collections, and other pertinent data.
(a) Legislative findings. --
West Virginians have a longstanding tradition of service in the armed forces of the United States. Many veterans suffer from physical and emotional afflictions and are often unable to find gainful employment upon returning from combat. Exploring opportunities to engage West Virginia's veterans in agriculture is beneficial to the health and welfare of veterans, as well as to the future of West Virginia's agricultural economy.
(b) Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program. --
The Department of Agriculture shall develop a Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program to integrate veterans into the field of agriculture, and support veterans currently working in agriculture. These programs may include, but are not limited to, using post-mine land for agricultural development, promoting high tunnel crops and production, expanding the apiary industry, developing cottage industries, exploring niche crops, raising more livestock, increasing the aquaculture industry and helping veterans promote their agricultural products through farmers markets and cooperatives. The department, Department of Veterans' Assistance and the state's Adjutant General shall work together to recruit and train eligible veterans, and develop and support the program.
(c) Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Fund. -- There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue account, designated the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Fund. The fund shall consist of income from leasing the department's property for the program, surplus funds which may be transferred from the fund created by section six-a, article twelve-a of this chapter, gifts, grants and donations, and legislative appropriations which may be made to support the program. Expenditures from the fund shall be used exclusively, in accordance with appropriations by the Legislature, to pay costs, fees and expenses necessary to administer the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program: Provided, That for fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, expenditures are authorized from collections rather than pursuant to an appropriation by the Legislature.
(d) Notwithstanding any provision in this code to the contrary, should the Department of Agriculture deem it necessary to provide land for activities within this program, it is exempt from the purchasing requirements as they relate to the competitive leasing of state property.
(e) The commissioner may propose emergency or legislative
rules for approval in accordance with the provisions of article
three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate the
provisions of this section.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.