Resource Fair Planned For Farmers And Loggers

We recently spoke with Josh Umar, Youth and Business resource Coordinator for The Highland Center, about an upcoming event of interest to farmers and loggers.

“Really pleased to be able to announce that on Wednesday, May 30th, from 10:00 am to 3:30pm, The Highland center is going to host a resource fair for farm and forestry businesses.

“In partnership with SCORE, which is a non-profit business assistance group, USDA, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Center for Natural Capital, Rockingham and Augusta Co-ops and more, we’re hoping to host this event so that farmers and loggers in our region can get ahold of resources that may be helpful to them, in either starting a business or making their current operations more profitable.

Our keynote speaker for the day is going to be the new Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. Secretary Ring formerly was the State Forester in Virginia, and she grew up in Craig County and has a real passion for rural communities like ours, so we are very excited to have her come and speak to us.

“The genesis for this event came out of a recently announced partnership. President Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a national partnership between the USDA and SCORE, that The Highland center has had a 15 year relationship with. They come at least once a month to provide local business owners with business mentorship and advice and resources. So USDA and SCORE have entered into this partnership to get business mentorship and resources into the hands of beginning farmers, as well as folks who are already in business, and so we thought ”well, let’s do an event to get word out about this”, and it sort of blossomed from there.

“Secretary Ring’s going to come –  we’re going to have an exhibitor’s hall, where people can come and set up tables and booths with information that they can get into the hands of local farmers and loggers. We’re also going to have several educational sessions – we’re going to have one on farm transition planning; Sarah Sharp from Virginia Cooperative Extension is going to come and talk about direct meat marketing and provide sort of an explanation of direct marketing and direct to consumer sales, and I think she’s going to also try to provide some further marketing resources. We’re going to have a lunch address by Jim Martin, who’s our district SCORE chair, on the new SCORE/USDA partnership. Tom Stanley from Extension is going to come talk about enterprise budgets for livestock farmers, and then finally, we’re going to have a really incredible panel discussion on resources for loggers, and anybody in a related industry, that’s going to include a discussion of grants, private investment, value-added products, and in fact, some opportunities that have come up via a partnership between the Center for Natural Capital and the U.S. Forest Service for access to national forest lands, with the idea being that the Forest Service may be willing to open up the forest some to some loggers.

“There’s going to be a lot there for a lot of the local farmers and loggers. We’re viewing this as a regional event – so Pendleton and Pocahontas counties in West Virginia, Augusta County, Bath County, Highland and Allegheny County – we feel like this is going to have resources that a lot of people from the region are going to be interested in. And, we are still looking for exhibitors, especially for instance if you are a local business that feels like you have something to offer farmers – maybe you do fencing work, or maybe you do welding work, or whatever it is – we’re open to having you as an exhibitor at the event, so please reach out.

“The cost is going to be $25 per person, or $40 per couple – the lunch is included in that. You will be able to buy your tickets online – they’ll be on The Highland Center website. And you can RSVP by getting in touch with The Highland center at 540-468-1922. We  would really appreciate an RSVP no later than a week before, Wednesday May 23rd – let us know by then if you want to come. And also let us know which of the breakout sessions you are most interested in, so we can be sure to plan to have room for everybody who is interested.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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