Agriculture can and should be an important part of West Virginia’s economy. In a letter to George Washington during the Constitutional Convention, Thomas Jefferson said, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”And, John Taylor of Caroline believed agriculture “the guardian of liberty, as well as the mother of wealth. So long as the principles of our government are uncorrupted, and the sovereignty of majorities remains, she must occupy the highest political station, and owe to society the most sacred political duty.”However, largely because of government interference, we feel that the full potential of West Virginia’s agricultural resources has not been developed.
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a tyrannical system of federal control over the food supply and over the property of our farmers which will impose burdensome reporting requirements, expenses, and fines. We therefore call for an end to West Virginia’s participation in this program as well as an end to the acceptance of any federal money for the purpose of implementing it.
Likewise, farm subsidies have a corrupting influence on the agricultural free market; we thus call for an end to them as well. West Virginia has a long and proud tradition of well managed agribusiness without the need for government intervention. Because of their many commercial uses, the unlimited cultivation of all traditional crops and fuel producing plants should be unregulated and uninfringed. Agriculture is a resilient and adaptive industry. We therefore reject transforming its agenda to meet so called “global challenges” and are opposed to artificial market manipulation via any sort of wage or price controls.
Farmers should be free to sell their products, including meat, milk, and traditionally processed foods, to the public without government involvement. However, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) present a threat to food safety and create the potential for contamination of the gene pool of other agricultural crops and livestock that are grown or raised in proximity. Therefore, we advocate a law that prohibits the cultivation or production of GMO crops, seeds, or livestock. We envision a revitalized agricultural economy for West Virginia supported by local farmers’ markets and organic methods which will allow consumers the opportunity to purchase high-quality natural West Virginia edibles instead of over-processed and less healthy factory-farmed foods.
Finally, conservation easements present potential serious and confusing complications to basic private property rights and are thus viewed by us with caution. We do recognize the problem which deer pose to our state not only in crop damage, but to motorists as well, and thus recommend reducing the nuisance population thereof through expansion of landowner hunting. Venison and other wild game are excellent sources of nutrition for our populace, the harvesting of which should be encouraged.
Adopted as new on April 24, 2010.