CHARLESTON — West Virginia will host the 2022 Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting in June of next year.

Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt chose the Mountain State after he was elected president of the organization during the 2021 meeting in Arkansas. The theme for the 2022 meeting will be “Rooted in the Mountain State,” a focus on conservation, local agriculture and how to further develop food systems within the United States.

“It is huge honor to be elected President of SASDA by my fellow commissioners and secretaries of agriculture. I look forward to bringing everyone to ‘Almost Heaven’ to show off our agriculture industries, as well as further develop the nation’s agriculture policy agenda. This is a big deal for the Mountain State,” Leonhardt said.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is divided into four sub-regional bodies to foster cooperation and partnerships between states. West Virginia, along with 13 other states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, belong to SASDA.

This organization is unique as 10 of the commissioners or secretaries of agriculture are elected. There are only 12 elected commissioners or secretaries of agriculture in the country.

“Our goal is to show our partners how West Virginia is leading the way on conservation and local agriculture initiatives. We hope to work with our colleagues to share knowledge, develop a national policy agenda and network for potential economic collaboration,” Leonhardt said. “It is time West Virginia takes a larger role on the national stage.”

The 2022 SASDA annual meeting will be held June 4-8 at Canaan Valley Resort. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture plans on hosting up to 150 attendees to tour West Virginia’s agriculture and connected industries. The 4-day event will include trainings, policy discussions and outings to fully immerse the participants in West Virginia agriculture.

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