The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) signed a five-year, first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to expand joint activities supporting the agencies’ shared goal of cleaner water and sustainable farms.
EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio and West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt signed the agreement at the West Virginia State Capitol Building in Charleston.
The MOU formalizes a partnership between the two agencies and expands activities to prioritize funding, coordinate on regulatory issues, recognize farmers for environmental stewardship, and provide educational opportunities for producers.
“This agreement builds on the actions our agencies are taking together and with the broader agricultural community to promote a vibrant farm economy and clean rivers and streams,” said Servidio. “This MOU formalizes our work together in the pursuit of solutions that are good for both agriculture and the environment.”
EPA is developing similar agreements with other states in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“This new agreement between the EPA and WVDA puts a concentrated effort on the ground to further the health of our agriculture industry,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “No other industry can say it’s good health for our economy, citizens and the environment of our state. We should be proud of our West Virginia farmers.”
The agreement was signed in the Governor’s Conference Room at the State Capitol with EPA hosted by Commissioner Leonhardt.
In the agreement, the agencies commit to the goal of “well-managed, sustainable farms that produce food for our communities and a clean environment for everyone to enjoy.”
Under the MOU, the agencies intend to:
- Coordinate and leverage federal, state and private funding to support actions that enhance sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.
- Advance opportunities to provide EPA grant funding directly to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, particularly when it can improve the timely expenditure of federal funds.
- Host annual meetings with state and federal leaders on priorities and activities, as well as joint trainings to ensure effective implementation of federal and state regulatory programs.
- Sponsor Agriculture Roundtables and farm tours to foster a dialogue between EPA and the agricultural community on successes, challenges and opportunities to work together.
- Participate in state program assessments to identify best practices and opportunities, and further compliance.
- Collaborate on an annual report to highlight achievements under the MOU.