Ag Commissioner Helmick happy to see farm bill pass US Senate - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Ag Commissioner Helmick happy to see farm bill pass US Senate

Posted: Updated:
  • BusinessBusinessMore>>

  • Union workers at Frontier OK 3-year contract

    Union workers at Frontier OK 3-year contract

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:17 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:17:18 GMT
    The new contract will expire in August 2017. It covers about 1,500 employees in 42 West Virginia counties.
    The new contract will expire in August 2017. It covers about 1,500 employees in 42 West Virginia counties.
  • Shale activity spurs WesBanco growth

    Shale activity spurs WesBanco growth

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 14:00:29 GMT
    Managing growth has been a problem for some companies in the shale gas region of West Virginia, leading WesBanco to provide services to help them.
    Managing growth has been a problem for some companies in the shale gas region of West Virginia, leading WesBanco to provide services to help them.
  • WV workforce lacks oil and gas expertise — for now

    WV workforce lacks oil and gas expertise — for now

    Sunday, August 31 2014 5:00 PM EDT2014-08-31 21:00:19 GMT
    Despite the relatively high amount of natural gas production in West Virginia, less than 3 percent of employees in some of the major occupations that make up the sector's workforce live in the Mountain State.
    Despite the relatively high amount of natural gas production in West Virginia, less than 3 percent of employees in some of the major occupations that make up the sector's workforce live in the Mountain State.

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that could help West Virginia's rural farmers, which pleases Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick.

The bill passed June 10 and includes provisions that will expand broadband services to rural communities by giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture the ability to provide more grants and loans.

"This is an important piece of legislation for our country and our state," Helmick said. "Provisions to support broadband technology, water services and agribusiness development are important to the future of our small, rural communities.

"Modern infrastructure must be present in our farm communities if we want to attract the next generation to agriculture as a profession."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., voted in support of the bill, which passed 66-27, with seven senators not voting, including Sen. Joe Manchin, also D-W.Va.

After passage, Rockefeller said the continued support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and increased assistance through The Emergency Food Assistance Program help protect West Virginia children and families.

"The farm bill includes important safety net programs so those most in need don't go hungry," he said. "And it goes a long way toward helping to alleviate stressful situations many families face when it comes to finding their next meal.

"This is the least we can do to help the most vulnerable. It's time to get this legislation signed into law."

The bill also works to improve programs that support fresh and local food sources. It reauthorizes the Fresh Program, which distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and service institutions; the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which gives low-income seniors across the country coupons in exchange for fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets; and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which encourages direct producer-to-consumer sales.

The bill also maintains the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program that gives school districts with a high number of low-income students free fruits and vegetables for elementary school students.

Helmick said he is also glad to see those programs continue.

"I also support the reauthorization of programs that are putting fresh, healthy produce in the hands of our schoolchildren and senior citizens," Helmick said. "These programs have been very beneficial to the Mountain State over the years. They encourage healthy eating habits and support farmers throughout West Virginia."

The bill now must pass the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law.