INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Tuesday afternoon’s blistering heat didn’t stop West Virginia State University from celebrating a recent bill passed by state lawmakers that will boost the land-grant institution’s mission.

Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice, state Senate President Craig Blair and several other lawmakers were on the Institute campus as Justice ceremonially signed into law the measure that will move the state Agriculture Department lab to WVSU and provide for $50 million to build a new lab.

Justice, who first proposed the funding in his State of the State Address back in January, said the support for State is long overdue.

“A lot of times you got the short end of the stick, you did, but not today,” Justice told the crowd gathered in the middle of campus. “Today you get the long end of the stick and then some.”

WVSU is the only land-grant school in the country without a School of Agriculture. Justice said that will now change.

“You need to take the long end of the stick and go somewhere with it, absolutely do greatness beyond belief,” he said.

Ericke Cage

State current does a lot of agricultural research and other work in the discipline. President Ericke Cage said there’s no more important issue in the world than agriculture and food security.

“West Virginia State University is prepared to help meet those challenges and I believe this project represents a win-win for West Virginia,” Cage said.

WVSU students will work with the state Department of Agriculture in the new lab. Cage envisions students being trained there.

“We are bringing together the expertise of an 1890 land-grant institution with the expertise with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture,” he said.

Cage added the two will work together to solve problems and work together to build a workforce for agriculture.

The state lab for the Department of Agriculture is currently located at Guthrie in Kanawha County. State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt was not at Tuesday’s ceremony but his chief of staff was.

State Senate President Craig Blair said the project will be an example of how West Virginia gets things done by combining efforts.

“This is really a good idea being able to partner the school with the labs so the students can come through and be part of the laboratory–a team–this is what we’ve been designing for all along,” Blair said.

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