West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture
- 1 Current officeholder
- 2 Authority
- 3 Qualifications
- 4 Elections
- 5 Vacancies
- 6 Duties
- 7 Divisions of the Office
- 8 Compensation
- 9 Former officeholders
- 10 Contact information
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 References
The current officeholder is Gus Douglass (D). He first served from 1964-1988, and has currently served since 1992. He is the nation's senior agriculture commissioner and the longest-serving commissioner in U.S history, but announced, during his 11th term in office, that he will not seek re-election in 2012.
Article VII, Section 1:
|The executive department shall consist of a governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, commissioner of agriculture and attorney general...|
No person, except citizens entitled to vote, shall be elected or appointed to any state, county or municipal office; but the governor and judges must have attained the age of thirty, and the attorney general and senators the age of twenty-five years, at the beginning of their respective terms of service; and must have been citizens of the state for five years next preceding their election or appointment, or be citizens at the time this constitution goes into operation.
- a citizen entitled to vote
- a resident of West Virginia for at least the preceding 5 years
Chapter 19, Article 1 of West Virginia Code further details the qualifications of the commissioner of agriculture:
The commissioner shall be a practical farmer, learned in the science of agriculture, and shall have made agriculture his chief business for a period of ten years immediately preceding his election.
- a practical farmer
- learned in the science of agriculture
- has made agriculture his chief business for at least the 10 years preceding his election
West Virginia elects agricultural commissioners in Presidential election years. For West Virginia, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 are all agricultural commissioner election years.
According to state law, the inauguration always takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of January following their election.
West Virginia does not have term limits for the office of agricultural commissioner.
Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article VII, Section 17 of the state constitution.
If the office of Agriculture Commissioner becomes vacant, it is the duty of the governor to fill the position by appointment. The appointee serves until a new commissioner is elected.
The commissioner of agriculture is responsible for protecting the health of West Virginia's citizens, plants, and animals. The office oversees a number of scientific, regulatory, and consumer protection programs, with the aim of improving the state's agriculture industry and ensuring the safety of agricultural products sold in the state. The primary duties of the office include:
- prevent, control, and eradicate animal and poultry diseases
- inspect commercial slaughterhouses
- regulate pesticides
- detect and control plant diseases
- distribute agricultural information
- enforce laws to protect the public food supply
- support rural development initiatives.
More detailed duties are specifically outlined in Chapter 19, Article 1, Section 4 of the West Virginia Code.
Divisions of the Office
The Department of Agriculture is made up of seven divisions.
Administrative Services Division
- The Administrative Services Division is "responsible for all day-to-day accounting functions including payroll and benefits processing, travel reimbursement, receivables, procurement, vendor payments and preparation and maintenance of the annual operating budget. Administration and financial management of federal and state grants is also handled by this unit."
|Contact Administrative Services|
Animal Health Division
- The mission of the Animal Health Division is "to prevent, suppress, control, and eradicate any communicable diseases of animals or poultry."
|Contact Animal Health|
- The Communications Division "coordinates the distribution of agriculturally related information to the general public and provides printing and informational support to all other WVDA divisions and the State Conservation Agency, Forestry Division and West Virginia Agricultural Statistics Service."
Marketing and Development Division
- The Marketing and Development Division "is a multi-disciplinary division within the West Virginia Department of Agriculture which is responsible for the promotion of West Virginia agricultural products and commodities, economic development and the operation of state-owned farms and farmers' markets."
|Contact Marketing and Development|
Meat and Poultry Inspection Division
- The Meat and Poultry Inspection Division is responsible for "daily inspection of all commercial slaughterhouses and processing establishments to guarantee that only fully inspected, wholesome and truthfully labeled meat and poultry products are offered for sale."
|Contact Meat and Poultry|
Plant Industries Division
- The Plant Industries Division "protects the State’s agricultural interests and forest lands from destructive insects, plant diseases, noxious weeds, and other pest organisms through pest detection, survey, identification, and control efforts and by enforcing regulations that have been promulgated to protect our crops and forests (both urban and rural)."
|Contact Plant Industries|
Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division Division
- The Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division "acts as a consumer protection / consumer service organization, enforcing laws, rules and regulations to protect the public food supply."
Article 7, Section 19 of the state constitution defines the method by which the commissioner of agriculture's compensation is set:
|The officers named in this article shall receive for their services a salary to be established by law, which shall not be increased or diminished during their official terms, and they shall not, after they shall not, after the expirations of the terms of those in office at the adoption of this amendment, receive to their own use any fees, costs, perquisites of office or other compensation, and all fees that may hereafter be payable by law, for any service performed by any officer provided for in this article of the Constitution, shall be paid in advance into the state treasury.|
Chapter 6, Article 7-2 of the West Virginia Code lays out the exact compensation for certain state officers. According to this section of the state code, the salary of the commissioner of agriculture, beginning in 2009 and for each calendar year thereafter, shall be $95,000. In 2010, the West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner was paid an estimated $95,000 according to the Council of State Governments.
- Coming soon
1900 Kanawha Blvd., E.
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone: (304) 558-3200
Fax: (304) 558-2203
- West Virginia Department of Agriculture, "Longtime agriculture commissioner Gus Douglass announces he will not seek re-election," May 17, 2011
- '"West Virginia Code, Retrieved June 20, 2011
- West Virginia Encyclopedia.org, "Department of agriculture," June 7, 2011
- West Virginia Code, " Retrieved June 20, 2011
- West Virginia Department of Agriculture, "Divisions," accessed April 17, 2011
- West Virginia Code, " Retrieved June 20, 2011
- The Council of State Governments,"The Book of States 2010 Table 4.11," retrieved April 23, 2011