CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two laws are going into effect that will have an immediate impact on local farmers and local food and state Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt couldn’t be anyone excited.

On July 1, the state Department of Agriculture will have the rules and enforce SB 285, allowing more points of sale for homemade food items, and HB 2396, the West Virginia Fresh Food Act.

The Fresh Food Act will require all state-funded institutions to buy at least five percent of their fresh produce and meats from in-state producers.

Kent Leonhardt

“That’s exciting, we are starting to develop a market,” Leonhardt said. “We are going to be encouraging agriculture in the state of West Virginia. We are going to be encouraging the good health of our citizens.

“That will save them downstream with healthcare costs and everything else.

Leonhardt said the rules are currently being worked on and then the department will work with the institutions such as government agencies and schools once the rules are created.

The second bill headed into law will allow more points of sale for homemade non-hazardous food items including jams, jellies, and pickles.

He said this law will be very beneficial to local producers.

“If they’ve got a family recipe that they want to market, without going through the entire expense of setting up a full blown kitchen, they can sell these products at a smaller scale and see if there is a market for them. See if it can take off,” he said.

“There is a chance for innovation and a chance for these folks to say ‘I think I can take this big time.'”

Leonhardt said there is plenty of opportunity in West Virginia for local growers and producers with these new laws.

“West Virginia is one day’s drive from sixty-percent of the population of this nation,” he said.

“There’s a market out there but we have to make sure our farmers know they have a market they can sell their goods to.”