Increase Agriculture Department Funding

At a time when Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia legislators are considering budget increases running into eight figures for some line items, state Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt’s request amounts to chicken feed. He just wants a few more dollars in state funding so his agency can do its job.

Among Leonhardt’s requests are $417,500 more to update the department’s old laboratories and $350,000 to regulate West Virginia’s burgeoning hemp growing industry. As many as 150 new hemp-growing operations may open this year.

Leonhardt has demonstrated he runs a tight ship. Meanwhile, his initiatives are improving both the economic impact of agriculture and the availability of healthy, fresh produce.

Lawmakers should give him the comparatively small budget increase he seeks.

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