West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Roy Ramey-Republican for Commissioner of Agriculture-West Virginia

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Welcome this edition of the Richard Urban Show. I’m your host, Richard Urban, coming to you from historic Harpers Ferry, WV. We present news and views from God’s point of view. Today, May 22, we’re very happy to have Roy Ramey on. He’s a Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture here in West Virginia. So please introduce yourself.

“Well, hello, my name is Roy Ramey and I’m a small regenerative farmer, in Cabell County, WV, just outside of Lesage. We do pasture poultry, pasture pork and pastured eggs as well as a few other odds and ends, but those are the main stay. And we also do some workshops and training events and help out the other folks to learn this style of farming,” Ramey said.

“I’m also a 31-year veteran in the Army, currently a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, still serving. And I guess I’ll keep serving until they kick me out. And I’m also a proud husband and father, I have an 11-year-old daughter, whom we home-school and I stay pretty active in my community helping out with other civic events and fraternal organizations and so forth, that I’m a part of,” Ramey added.

Richard: Well, that’s great. So how did you come to decide to run for Commissioner of Agriculture? And what are your three main platform points, your main points that you’re running on?

“So I have been practicing regenerative agriculture for several years now. I learned this style from Joel Saladin, Polyface Farm, he’s actually closer to you all. You may heard of him. He’s the most famous farmer in the world. And I started learning those methods and finding out how difficult it is actually with the regulatory environment that we have. And I got over a lot of it,” Ramey answered.

“I left and went on active duty tour with the Army Reserve for a few years and came back and as I was trying to get my farm re-established and fully operational again, I started realizing there were some new regulations in there that the Department of Agriculture was probably pushing. And I thought, Man, this is undoable and it makes it an extreme burden that’s just not financially feasible for small farmers,” Ramey added.

“And the more I got to look into it I thought, the guy that’s standing in the way on a lot of this, or not defending us is the Commissioner of Agriculture. And I was going to get into the Legislature and try to change some of the laws and I thought, No, the bureaucrats are the ones that are causing a lot of this problem. So, I need to go there and not be the door but open the door. ” Ramey continued.

“And that really got me into this mission, and deciding to help cut some of this regulatory burden and make it easier for small family farms. In West Virginia we don’t have very many industrial farms. Yet, the regulations that are put in place at the federal and state level, are geared, not toward our safety as we’re often lied to, but they’re actually there to protect the industrial farming system as opposed to the small family farms,” Ramey said.

“And so there’s a difference between what a lot of people will tell you. Everybody says they’re for the small farm. And nobody’s gonna say, I’m against small farms, but what they really mean [when] most of the bureaucrats talk about small farms, they’re talking about industrial farms on a small scale. I’m actually talking about small farms producing food for their local communities

Richard: What’s the difference between a regenerative farm and say, and an organic farm? Or is it similar or the same?

“So there’s some similarities and I’m glad you ask that. A lot of people hear organic, and they just think this nice idyllic farm, but there’s a lot of vagaries in the organic label, it’s actually controlled by the US Department of Agriculture as a franchise. And there’s a lot of problems with it, despite what people think and you can do a lot of not so great things in producing food and get away with it and still put the certified organic label on it,” Ramey explained.

“The big difference is in regenerative farming, it’s about rebuilding the soil and rebuilding the environment. We pasture our animals and we move them around the pasture and we never shovel manure. Because we let the animals do that. And we make sure that it gets spread around to all the fields that we’re actually using and help rebuild that soil,” Ramey continued.

“One of my big passions is raw milk, and we hear a lot of contention about raw milk, and that’s a passion of mine. I think we should be able to have it. And whether you want it or don’t want it, we can both be right on that. Nobody’s going to twist your arm and force you to go get raw milk or take away pasteurized milk. However, as an individual, by the way our Constitution was meant to protect individual freedoms and choices, and therefore as one of the constitutional officers, I’m going to protect that freedom and the right to be able to choose raw milk, if you want to get it,” Ramey said.

Richard: On your site you posted about the Prime Act. So that sounds like a good idea, do you want to tell the viewers about that?

“The Prime Act. You know one of the big problems that we have is the meat production in the country as a whole. And you’re seeing a lot of that now, with the availability of meat in our super markets where most people go to get their groceries,” Ramey said.

“And the Prime Act is a bill by Congressman Thomas Massie, in Kentucky and he farms regeneratively over there, and a very smart guy, and he developed this about five or six years ago, actually. And it keeps getting knocked down. But that bill will allow us to use our Custom inspection, we got three levels of inspection – custom, state level, and USDA level – and each of those means a little different something. And custom is when you have your own animal that you take to the slaughter house and they’re going to process it for you and you pick it all up and take it home and you can’t sell any of that meat at all, although presumably it’s safe enough because you’re allowed to consume it for yourself and your family, you just can’t sell it for $1. The Prime Act would allow states to change their laws to go within the state. You would be able to use custom level slaughter guidelines in order to sell me in your local area or within the state.” Ramey added.

“Now, most people want to be able to support local farmers and they just can’t do it with the current regulatory environment and if we would change to add something like the Prime Act and then having an accompanying bill within the state of West Virginia to support that, then we could put our local meat in our grocery stores and our farmers markets and even sell directly at retail, [cuts?-unclear audio]. That’s what the Prime Act is, and I support that for the federal level, and I will build a rapport with other states that they’re supporting it, as well, and try to get that national support that Congressman Massie needs to be able to pass that bill in Congress,” Ramey said.

Richard: I was reading about GMO crops and versus non-GMO, that there could be contamination, among, neighboring farms or things. Is that an issue in West Virginia or in general? Is that something you’re concerned about or not?

“Yes, it is a concern. And let me address it in a couple of different ways, specifically what you referred to. We do have some GMO but because we’re not a generally industrial level forming community, we don’t have a lot of it, we do have some of it,” Ramey answered.

“The big thing is when I want to get feed for my livestock, I can’t get a GMO free, feed ’cause it’s just not available around here. I have to buy it pre-bagged from somewhere else. Have it shipped in at an enormous cost. Yet. I’ve got a feed mill that’s 20 miles up the road one way in 35 miles up the road. Another way that if we just had GMO-free material available, then I could get the GMO-free feed and I actually have a ton of customers who would want that very thing and they would even pay extra,” Ramey continued.

“The big thing with GMOs, and in a lot of discussions and debates about this very thing, it’s not necessarily that it’s GMO, it’s what is that GMO designed to do. We genetically modify a crop in order to do something to have some kind of resistance and in most of the cases, the resistance is to spray toxic poisons on it. They’ll kill everything else but allow this corn, this soybean to grow,” Ramey said.

“And so that’s the majority of the GMOs that we see, particularly with plants. We want to be able to spray Roundup on everything else and not kill our corn or soybeans. And so number one, it needs to be labeled,” Ramey said.

 “One of the things that happens and, again, it’s not so much here but in bigger agriculture communities what you have is a lot of farmers will have the GMO seed that they’re planting. And then you might have the lone holdout nowadays, just about all the industrials use GMOs. But a few folks were not. And so, the GMOs will cross-contaminate through the pollination process into the guy that’s not using a GMO seed and so he saves his seed, but now, it’s contaminated if you will,” Ramey said.

Richard: To bring it more to conclusion, how would you like contrast yourself with your opponent? I know you’re running against the incumbent. Kent Leonhardt, right? So what would be the contrast for voters? They have those two choices on the Republican side.

“So for starters, I’m not a professional politician, and he is, I don’t have a lot of big money and I definitely don’t have any industrial money backing me. The little bit of money that I have gotten has either been my own or everyday people in West Virginia or around… I do have some friends out of state that are regenerative farmers that support me, want to see this, and I’m not a bureaucrat, by any stretch of the imagination. I do believe in the Constitution and protecting it absolutely to the letter. I’ve done extensive study of our founding fathers and of their establishment of the Constitution, the history around the founding of the country, and I well understand the Constitution and the intent behind it with protecting our individual rights,” Ramey said.

“And with my 31 years of military service, I didn’t serve to protect the government of this country. I served to protect the people of this country and this service, with running for office, is just an extension of the service that I’ve spent 31 years to do. I’m not about protecting the bureaucratic system,” Ramey concluded.

Richard: Well, I want to thank you very much for coming on today and hope you will watch and will make informed choices and we know you’re running on the Republican ticket for Commissioner of Agriculture. And so, they can vote on June 9th.

Interview with Roy Ramey-Republican for Commissioner of Agriculture-West Virginia

Learn more about Roy Ramey, his commitment to small farmers, regenerative farming and other topics in the contest for Commissioner of Agriculture in West Virginia.

West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with William J.R. Keplinger-Democratic Candidate for WV Commissioner of Agriculture

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William Keplinger-Article

Welcome to this edition of the Richard Urban show. I’m your host Richard Urban, coming to you from historic Harpers Ferry, W.V. We present news and views from God’s point of view. Today, May 21, we’re very happy to have William Keplinger on. He’s running for Commissioner of Agriculture on the Democratic ticket. So please introduce yourself and tell us about yourself or your family, whatever you’d like to introduce.

“Okay, I appreciate it, thank you, Richard. I’m William J.R. Keplinger or most people call me JR. That’s my nickname and actually that’s my name. I’m 51 years old, I live in Moorefield, W.V. I’m a third generation farmer, and I’ve got to tell you, one of the proud things. I got a letter in the mail. I am proudly endorsed the West Virginia Farm Bureau, so that was something, that I’ve been a Farm Bureau member for 30 years,” Keplinger said.

“I’ve been married to my wife, Stacy my lovely wife, of 18 years, I’ve got to compliment her; maybe she’ll see the video.  I have two lovely children. I have Makenzie my daughter and William is my son. I live on a family farm on South Fork, that’s outside of Moorefield, and we raised 700,000 broiler chickens and 65 head of brood cows. Then I went to West Virginia University and studied resource management and economics at the school of agriculture, WVU.  I graduated from there in 1991 and started a business providing bedding for farm animals and it’s called Keplinger Shavings and it’s still in operation today. So I’m quite proud of a successful business. You definitely need to understand business, if you’re going to help someone in your state. That’s one of the requirements that you must have, you need to know business. And so after that I started the business. In 2000 I ran for County Commissioner, Hardy County Commissioner and I got elected. I’ve served 18 years as a Hardy County Commissioner and during that time, I was also on the West Virginia County Commissioners Association Board and served there for 12 years, which, that was so many wonderful people I got to meet across the state. We had meetings in different counties throughout the state, and it was just a lot of networking. You got to understand how counties operate how the different problems at each county, all 55 have similar problems and they handle it in different ways and it works.  You need to talk to one another to find out what works and how to solve. Why reinvent that wheel?  So that networking is very important.  And so that’s some of the experience that I’ve gained from that, “Keplinger continued.

Richard: Okay, thanks for sharing. What are your three main campaign points or three main issues that you’ll most emphasize?

“The one thing that I want to see is I want to expand and improve on agriculture.  We have technology out there today that most people, they haven’t seen, they haven’t heard.  And the easier way; we have high tunnels now, the way you can climate control and grow vegetables.  And the same thing with high tunnels goes into the poultry business, which I’ve been in for several years. You climate control everything. You know what you’re heat is, know what your water flow, what your temperature is, you can increase it or you can lower it, and that promotes the number of the days that you can grow a product. And on food safety we went through this terrible medical emergency, we had the corona virus hit us and we see the importance of quality food and so food safety and animal safety in the animal health. We have to help those farmers and help the public, the citizens of state of West Virginia be able to have a resource of safe and quality food and be able to purchase that local quality food, and just to increase the awareness of agriculture. I want to promote the youth in agriculture. I think 4-H, some of the most important youth programs out there, they inspire leadership and citizenship and community involvement. And that’s the three of the many that I can touch upon that, I think it’s very important that we need to work on with the Agriculture Department and work with people” Keplinger answered.

Richard: “Well, I want to interject one thing about food safety. So do you feel there’s a dynamic or conflict between the GMO crops and organic crops, or those kind of practices? Is that causing some problem?  I was reading sometimes that some farmers are saying, there’s cross-contamination.  Is that an issue here in West Virginia that you’ve seen or is that causing any trouble?

“I haven’t seen any trouble on it, but we’ve got to be environmentally aware of what we use and what we do. And a farmer, he knows what he has to do, he’s not gonna use too many chemicals or anything that is not necessary because that’s a cost to him.  He’s in it to make a profit.  He doesn’t make a lot of profit; some of the farmers just barely get by.  But a successful farm knows how they need to diversify our and they need to do certain things to make their product successful and grow. And as far as some of the largest farms, you have to have some type of a Round-Up Ready corn.  The smaller farms, vegetable garden, things of that nature, you can have companion plants. And what are those?  They are allow to attract the bugs away from your plants that you’re growing, your vegetables. So those are some techniques that help on the natural side,” Keplinger responded.

Richard: So you feel that those like the Round-Up things are necessary for the larger farms? They use those right?

“They are and if there’s something better out there we got to continue to research and find better ways of producing things and better ways of protecting our crops. Technology is there, we just need to advance it further, we need to be aware of what opportunities we have and that’s where the education value comes in. And the youth, we need to find a place for our youth in our agriculture future. My daughter was in DECA, and she went to the state, won state honors. And when this corona virus it knocked that nationals out, She was all fired up. She was going to Nashville, Tennessee,” Keplinger added.

Richard: Okay, About the COVID-19 – has that affected your operational? We’ve seen or heard, or seeing that there’s some shortages of like meat, or is it affected? Maybe farmers are not so much in West Virginia.

“Well as a farmer we’re always bio-secure. We have to worry about diseases in whatever manner for our farms, our culture farms. Or probably more bio-secure than any. But even your cattle farms, you need to be aware of the potential diseases that are out there and safeguard yourself. And so we were a little bit more aware of possibilities and potential scares, more than the public, but as far as changes we just practiced the same methods that were given to us from the CDC and social distancing,” Keplinger said.

Richard: Do farm subsidies come into play much in West Virginia? Do you think they’re a good idea or a bad idea? Should it be more just market-driven?

“Well, I do believe the market should help us more than anything.  Subsidies are there for a reason, and if you’re honest, and you need help, being it a drought or, whatever it may be, that’s what they’re there for. They’re for a crisis situation to where you need help, through an area where an economy burst just kind of slows your whole production down. And then that could be a possibility to help sustain those people until they get back on their feet,” Keplinger answered.

 Richard: I think it came up in my other interview. Do you think the products should be labeled for country of origin or do you not or do you have any opinion about that?

“Oh yeah, I do believe. I believe it’s called COOL, country of origin labeling yes, I do believe that I would want to know where my products come from. If I’m eating a hamburger, I would want to know if its Argentina or what have you, and you know, my preference would be West Virginia, that’s where I would like to see it from. And I think that’s one of my platforms, I would like to see, I think West Virginia needs to create a branding. You look at Kentucky. They have Kentucky brand beef,” Keplinger responded.

Richard: The GMO labeling, would you support that? I think that’s been very contentious as far as I know. I guess it’s more national issue but should things be labeled if they have GMO?

“Well, yeah, they should be labeled. It shouldn’t be deceiving in any manner. I have no problem about that,” Keplinger said.

Richard: Just to wrap up, are any other things you’d like to share with the voters, like how you may differentiate or why should they vote for you versus the other couple of candidates? I know in the primary you have a two opponents there.

“Well, for one, I’ll go through a little list of what I’ve done. Of course, I’ve been a third generation farmer.  I’ve owned a business for 30 years successfully, and still operating the farm.  I was a County Commissioner for 18 years I served on the secure Rural Schools program I was on West Virginia insurance risk pool. I was on the West Virginia County Commissions Association Board,” Keplinger said.

“I was on the Planning Commission for Hardy County.  I was on the Regional Waste Water Authority; it was a $41 million project that helped the Chesapeake Bay.  And I try to be a good steward of the land as well as a farmer.  Career Technology Educational Advisory Council, Hardy County Public Park Region 8 Council, the Extension Service Committee and so many others…. So I’ve been quite busy through my years,” Keplinger continued.

“Food safety is a priority of our citizens of the state of West Virginia. Education is essential for the future of agriculture. Technology is growing in the agriculture industry at a tremendous pace. We need to support our youth organizations like 4-H and FFA and help our children learn about agriculture, leadership and community. Our agriculture industry needs our children to be part of our agriculture future as we maneuver through these trying times. With the medical crisis upon us, our need for safe food and abundant food resources and bio-security are well understood. We need to market West Virginia products. We need to allow citizens of our state the opportunity to purchase West Virginia grown products,” Keplinger concluded.

Interview with William J.R. Keplinger-Democratic Candidate for WV Commissioner of Agriculture

Find out more about William Keplinger and his views as a Democratic candidate for the Commissioner of Agriculture.

West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Dave Miller-Democratic Candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture-West Virginia

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Dave Miller, who’s running for Commissioner of Agriculture-West Virginia on the Democratic ticket, is our guest today on the May 19 edition of the Richard Urban Show where news and views from God’s point of view are presented.

Richard: Please tell us a little about yourself or your family or whatever you like to share to introduce yourself.

Miller: My name is Dave Miller and I live in Preston County in a little town, Tunnelton that used to be a booming gold town. I was born here, and have had a really great career, been thankful for that. I’m married, I have three children and four grandchildren. I went to Fairmont State College. I got my master’s degree in the University of Virginia, and I’ve been a teacher, a coach, a principal, director of personnel in the county here, I also worked five years for Commissioner Douglas at the Department of Agriculture, and after that Commissioner Douglas said I would like for you to be Commissioner but as you know, Commissioners serve for 4 years and I went on to do something else before he retired. In the last five years I was the director of Extension Service for the state of West Virginia. I’d always wanted to run for commissioner of agriculture and this kind of presented itself as the best time for me to do that, and so that’s why my wife and I sat down and we talked about it and said, “Well maybe now is the time to do it before it’s too late.”

“We’re very much interested in creating a niche market for the people, for the farmers to sell products and to make sure that our food supply for the people is safe and that’s what the Department of Agriculture is – one of their duties – that’s what they do. So we’re very much interested in being a part of that,” Miller continued.

Richard: You’re online on your website, talking about the niche market. And so that’s one of the main things you were emphasizing. Are there other key points you’re emphasizing in your platform as you’re running, along with a niche market?

Miller answers: “I think there’s a place for the farm to table selling of our products to local people. I think the farm to school, we have had our schools buy more of the farmers’ products. And I think it’s very important now, especially since we’ve had this virus scare that people see that maybe local farmers are a very important part to get our products out and so forth. Maybe this global or united type of supply that we have sometimes it’s not that dependable. And I’m a very strong supporter of having a label on the food as to where it comes from, origin, country of origin, because I think that we, the United States, have a great opportunity to sell and market our products. So, all those type of things, to help the people and to help to farmers the farmers we’re interested in.”

Richard:  Right now is a country of origin required?  I noticed sometimes I see on honey, product of Argentina or whatever country, or it’s not required?

“It’s not required, the USDA and the Congress took it off. It was on there, but they took it off. And now, those of us that support that are trying to fight to get the Commerce and the USDA to put it back on the country of origin,” Miller answered.

Richard: There are some that are requesting the GMO labeling. Is it something to do or not? What do you think about that?

.“That’s a genetic modified type of product. And some people are totally against that because they think if you eat a lot of that food that comes from the GM product then you may get sick or injured in some way. And then the other side is saying that no it’s not, it is safe and it will not hurt you. I’m at the point we don’t try to use much of that. We try to be as natural as possible. The problem with being natural, organic, it takes a lot more work. It takes a lot of hard work to get rid of weeds and so forth, so, we advocate that you try not to use, as much of that, as possible,” Miller explained.

Richard: Has the COVID-19 situation affected farmers such as yourself very much or not?

“My life has been the same since it started. You know I live on 100-some acres, so I don’t have to be worried about people coming to social distancing with me, but a lot of people are affected differently. Farmers have been affected because they have had trouble maybe selling their products, maybe selling and trucking their products to different places and so forth. But on the other side of that, I think it’s a great opportunity for farmers to have and to show the people how local products are much better than what they have to be shipped in from other places. For example. Now, you’ve probably heard about this, that some of the large slaughter houses in the Midwest began to shut down because their employees are all sick with the virus, and so forth, so the supply of meat and the supply of pork and chicken is way down. So I think now a lot of our small slaughter houses in the state of West Virginia have really been busy, because people are buying locally, having their meat butchered at the local slaughter houses,” Miller said.

Richard: Do you think subsidies are needed or it would be better if there were less subsidies?

Miller said “I think it’s case by case. I don’t totally believe in all the subsidies. I do believe in it if there’s crop insurance, if we have weather that wipes out your crops, if we have a disease or maybe insects or something that comes in and causes a huge problem with your crops or with your cattle, or whatever, that kind of insurance, or subsidy – probably would be good to help that farmer out. “

Richard: I know you’re running against a couple of other people in the primary. How would you differentiate yourself? Would you care to say how you’re different from other candidates, something that the voters would like to know, especially in the primary ticket?

“Well, I think my experience. The things I’ve been able to do in my career, plus working with the Department of Agriculture for five years, to know the ins and outs of how that department works. I think my experience with people. I’ve been an administrator for at least 40 years, and I know how to work with people. I like to talk to people, I like to be in face-to-face, but not so much e-mails or text messages, if I have a problem, I like to go sit down and talk to them. I think that sets me apart from a lot of other people because I’m not afraid to hear your suggestions. And that’s one of the things I’m going to do, if I do get that far, I’m going to talk to all the people that work for the Department, see what the problems are, what they think and then go from there.  Or, I need to talk to the farmers also.” Mr. Miller said.

Richard: Would you like to add anything else before we close? Just maybe summarize for the voters, something about your qualifications or anything else you’d like to share?

“I just think that in my career and still in my life today I put the Lord first, my family second, and then the job would be third. I think that’s the type of person I am, a down-to-earth person. What you see is what you get. I may not be able to do what you want me to do, but I will listen and we’ll see where we have to go because you’ll very seldom ever see me write anything about I did this or I did that because I can’t do it by myself. I need your help to get things done,” Miller concluded.