MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The next executive director of the Farm Service Agency in West Virginia believes technology is the way forward in serving West Virginia’s agriculture community. Rick Snuffer recently took over at the helm of the agency after spending his entire career in the agency and working up the ladder.
He comes to the helm less than a year after ten longtime Farm Service Agency offices in the state were closed due to federal budget cutbacks. Snuffer worried the closure of the offices cost farmers in those counties assistance.
“We have a presence in 22 locations in West Virginia and we want to make an effort using mobile office technology to go into other counties and make sure all are served fairly,” said Snuffer. “In West Virginia a lot of those office closures were made on the basis of ‘miles from other offices’ but 20 miles in West Virginia is a lot further than 20 miles in Kansas.”
Another initiative Snuffer is excited about is the Farm to School program being led by State Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick. Snuffer said they are on board in support of the idea.
“Try to work to have producers to produce products locally that are currently being shipped in from other parts of the country to feed our kids,” he said.
Snuffer said it’s an opportunity to open new markets to Mountain State growers and creation of those opportunities, in Snuffer’s mind, is one of the main jobs for his office. He sees fertile ground to develop those markets.
“Transportation costs are more and more every day and the drought in the west and California has raised the price of products sky high,” he said. “This is an opportunity for West Virginia farmers to step in and get some new markets.”