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William "JR" Keplinger, candidate for West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture

This is one of a series of guest columns from candidates in contested races in the June 9 West Virginia Primary Election.

Hello, I am William “J.R.” Keplinger, and I want to be your agriculture commissioner for the state of West Virginia in 2020. Agriculture is a bright spot in West Virginia’s economy. Even in these times of uncertainty in our international trade arenas, our agriculture can and will continue to benefit the citizens of our state. We are part of the bigger picture!

We need to encourage all West Virginians to become a part of the exciting opportunities that our abundant natural resources provide to our citizens. We need to help those who are passionate about agriculture to get involved. Technology is changing the way we produce food at an amazing pace. Education is an essential part of growing our agriculture industry. Our youth need more opportunities to become part of our agriculture future. Knowing where our food comes from needs to be appreciated and hopefully consumers will consider purchasing locally grown West Virginia products.

I am a third-generation farmer from Moorefield, West Virginia. I attended Moorefield High School and went on to attain a bachelor of science degree from West Virginia University in resource management and economics from the School of Agriculture. After graduating in 1991, I started a business that provides bedding for farm animals called Keplinger Shavings, which is still in operation today. In 2000, I was elected to serve as a Hardy County commissioner and served in this capacity for 18 years. Now, I have placed my sights on further service to our citizens as agriculture commissioner for the state of West Virginia.

Family is important to me. I am married to Stacy, my lovely wife of 18 years, and we have two beautiful children: our daughter, Makenzie, and our son, William. I want them to have the opportunity to be a part of the exciting things that a career in agriculture holds and to be a part of this community. Our family farm is located just outside of Moorefield in Hardy County. We raise approximately 700,000 broiler chickens per year and have 65 head of cows. I am fortunate to also have the love and support of my parents Bill and Rosemary, who are still farming as well.

As a youth I was involved with 4-H and FFA and was on numerous judging teams throughout my high school years as well as during my college years. These youth development organizations are very important to our youth to help them to develop skills and understanding about agriculture, citizenship, leadership and community. I continue to support the youth involved in these programs in various ways.

I welcome the opportunity to be your next agriculture commissioner. As a farmer and businessman, I know the hard work and challenges that a farmer faces and the things most citizens in the state face. Working together we can improve the economy of our state. There are marketing opportunities and the potential of new agriculture businesses that will create new jobs for our citizens.

I am still passionate about our state and her people and have the drive and the heart to want to make a positive difference in our state in the future. On May 12, I appreciate your support in electing me as your next agriculture commissioner.

William “J.R.” Keplinger, a resident of Moorefield, is a Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner of West Virginia.

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