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NAME: William "JR" Keplinger

CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture

PARTY: Democrat


HOME CITY: Moorefield


AGE: 51

EDUCATION: BS in Resource Management & Economics WVU

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Farmer & business owner

OTHER WORK HISTORY: 2001-2018 County Commissioner

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Moorefield Lions Club, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Hardy County Rod & Gun Club

FAMILY: wife, Stacy; daughter, Makenzie; son, William.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: Agriculture is a bright spot in West Virginia's economy. Even in these times of uncertainty in our international trade arenas, our agriculture will continue to benefit the citizens of our state. Education is an essential part of growing our agriculture industry. Children need more opportunities to become part of our agriculture industry. It is important that everyone appreciates where their food comes from and can purchase WV products. We need to encourage all West Virginians to take a look at the advance technology that allows you to make a part-time or full income doing something you love to do.

Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:

1. What do you see as the role of the Commissioner of Agriculture in spurring the economic growth of agriculture in West Virginia?

Agriculture and forestry are vital to the economy of WV. As Commissioner, I will work to encourage growth of both agriculture and forestry in the state. New and innovative opportunities must be pursued in marketing these important industries. There are many opportunities in our country to expand our market share and improve our citizens lives and our family farms.

2. Do you feel the environmental impact of agriculture has been properly addressed? If not, what changes would you favor?

I believe that our agriculture and forest communities are working hard to preserve and protect our natural resources. We’ve taken great steps to protect our land and water resources. Buffers between fields and waterways prevent soil erosion and nutrient runoff, fencing streams and other management techniques are used to keep our waters clean, protect our soil, and improve our air.

Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:

3. What types of agricultural commodities do you feel have the greatest potential to grow in West Virginia, and therefore boost the state’s economy?

Given our typography, animal agriculture continues to provide a great opportunity for growth. High tunnel technology for vegetable productions, nursery type operations, aquaculture, cannabis, timber and other forestry renewables all have great potential as new and expanding opportunities in agriculture. All of these can provide a real, achievable boost for our state’s economy.

4. Do you feel the department of agriculture is adequately protecting the public in terms of agricultural commodities? Are any more steps needed?

The WV Department of Agriculture performs many critically important duties for the protection of our citizens and our plant and animal industries. Protecting animal and plant health goes hand in hand with protecting human health. Our Department of Agriculture must be ready to respond and react positively to those things that threaten our agriculture and forest industries.