CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt is running for reelection in 2020.
Leonhardt made the announcement on Wednesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline,’ saying there is a lot more to do but the state has come a long way since he took office in 2016.
“I told the citizens I want to make sure we have good government while keeping our livestock and our citizens safe,” he said of his promises kept.
“I wanted to build up relationships that I’ve never seen before in the state with our state agencies, and we wanted to make sure we use taxpayer’s dollars wisely while doing all this.”
Leonhardt said that his office has created more jobs with adjusting regulations in several programs, including cottage food bill passed that allows for sales of homemade food beyond farmers’ markets and community events.
“If you just go to our State Fair records, in the last couple of years where we highlight West Virginia made products, I can tell you there is one vendor there who has quit her state job and is doing that full-time because of the environment we set,” Leonhardt said.
“I talked to another farmer who gave up teaching because of the programs implemented.”
According to Leonhardt, the timber and industrial hemp industries have taken off with him in office. He said that they worked hard with the United States Department of Agriculture with issues surrounding the export of hardwoods gave out more than 1,000 permits in the first year.
The application period for the 2020 growing season of industrial hemp ended on Monday and Leonhardt said his department has received more than 400 applications. When he took office, the state had 24 industrial hemp farmers.
Leonhardt, a Republican, defeated incumbent Walt Helmick in 2016 after running unopposed for the party’s nomination. State Senator Bob Beach (D-Monongalia) has already launched a campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture in 2020.