WV agriculture commissioner addresses Wood County Farm Bureau

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WOOD COUNTY, W.Va.-(WTAP) Update: 12/8/2017 5:15 P.M.

There are indications oil and gas drilling may be in an upturn, after declines the past three years.

In the early years of the Marcellus Shale boom, there were concerns about property damage from large trucks and drilling rigs on rural property.

Companies in this decade also have negotiated drilling rights with property owners in rural areas.

The West Virginia Farm Bureau's government affairs division says it is closely watching to make sure landowners property rights are protected, for when drilling increases again.

"There are other strata, such as the Rogersville Strata, that are important farther south in West Virginia," says Government Affairs Director Dwayne O'Dell. "Those will have a heavy impact, as well as major pipeline issues to export some of the gas. We're hopeful some of the gas can be left here for further processing, whether it be for a cracker plant or even a fertilizer plant."

O'Dell spoke with state lawmakers and local farmers Thursday night, as part of the Wood County Farm Bureau's annual dinner at the Butcher Bend fairgrounds near Mineral Wells.

The state farm bureau has 20,000 members.


For the past two decades, West Virginia's forest industry has been governed by the state department of commerce.

Now, there's a move to return the Division of Forestry to the agriculture department.

West Virginia's Agriculture Commissioner, Kent Leonhardt, is seeking a bill in the upcoming legislative session to do just that.

Leonhardt was in Mineral Wells Thursday night, addressing the county's annual farm bureau dinner.

He says trees are a crop, and that the change would benefit workers within the state's forestry department.

"They're all foresters, they're all trained in forestry, so they can do an inspection," he said. "We can cut down on driving time, and we can save money there. And I train those foresters, in various aspects of looking for invasive species. It's far easier to coordinate training if everything's within one agency."

The state forestry director opposes the change, recently noting forestry helps drive West Virginia's economy.

The farm bureau's dinner was attended by lawmakers and members of the state's farm bureau.