2022 Estimated Use Values from SLEAC

The 2022 land use value estimates have been posted online and you can not only see the values for each category, you can see brochures that show detailed information for the data used and crops making up the counties’ composite farm. Review the information at the Virginia’s Use-Value Assessment Program website.

The average change in value for all counties that have land use assessment was an increase of $48/acre from last year.  The SLEAC values are based on a 7-year Olympic average where the highest and lowest values are dropped from the average.  As noted from Virginia Tech, “Generally, increases were due to increased net returns in pasture and soybean enterprise budgets and federal program payments. Statewide, yield and price increased significantly for soybeans, with a yield of 42 bushels an acre (8 bushel increase from the prior year) and price increased to $10.50 per bushel ($1.70 increase from the prior year) for 2020. Tax year 2020-2022 pasture budgets include updated data reflecting common production practices, resulting in lower variable and fixed costs most associated with fertilization and establishment. Counties seeing decreases generally were due to decreases in profit from corn. For specific comments refer to your county in the attached documents.

2021 Redistricting in Virginia

You may remember voting “yes” or “no” on last year’s ballot to amend the state’s constitution and authorize the establishment of the Virginia Redistricting Commission to develop new electoral maps for Virginia’s state and congressional legislative districts. That measure passed and marked a significant change to the redistricting process, as the General Assembly has been responsible for drawing maps in the past. The bipartisan commission, which is composed of four members of the House of Delegates, four members of the Senate of Virginia, and eight citizen members, began work this year, but has faced delayed Census data, multiple procedural issues, and a consistent lack of consensus, all while operating under a tight deadline. So, if you are confused as to where they are in the process, you’re not alone.

The commission must submit new state House and Senate maps to the General Assembly for approval by October 10, 2021 and new Congressional maps by October 25, 2021. When drawing the maps, criteria that must be followed include guidelines related to population equality, voting rights and political participation, communities of interest, and political neutrality.  A Democratic consulting team and a Republican consulting team have each drawn draft maps to present to the commission for review. While the goal was to submit one House and one Senate map to the public for comments prior to the deadline, the commission was unable to agree on what those maps should look like; therefore 41 different maps are now available online, including several submitted by citizens.

Without a doubt, for both commission members and the general public, this is an overwhelming amount of data to digest. Fortunately, the Virginia Public Access Project has done an excellent job at covering the current redistricting process. Just by inputting your address here, you can see how the different plans would impact your representation.

Concerned about how the plans may affect you or your locality? The commission has presented several opportunities for public comment:

Written Comment

1. Submission through email. Comments may be emailed to varedist@dls.virginia.gov and will be posted on the commission’s website at: https://www.virginiaredistricting.org. These comments will be available to the commission for review and consideration.

2. Submission through regular mail. Comments may be sent by regular mail to the following address:

Virginia Redistricting Commission – Pocahontas Building, 8th Floor 900 E. Main Street – Richmond, VA 23219

3. Submission through public comment portal. The various proposed maps are posted on the commission’s website. These interactive maps have a feature that allow members of the public to select an area of interest on the map and enter their comments about that area.

Live Comment

1. In person. At in-person public hearings of the commission, members of the public can attend the hearing and provide live, in-person comments to the commission. Sign-up will be on site, beginning one hour prior to the hearing start time and ending one hour after the hearing begins.

2. Virtual. At both in-person and virtual public hearings of the commission, members of the public may attend the hearing virtually and provide live comments to the commission. Those wishing to provide virtual comment at a hearing must sign up prior to the hearing, using a link that will be provided in advance of the hearing on the Meetings & Public Hearings page of the commission’s website. Members of the public must register at least 24 hours before the time of the in-person or virtual public hearing.

A public hearing schedule by region can be found here, and public hearing FAQs can be found here.

More to come as this process continues to unfold!

Stefanie K. Taillon – Senior Assistant Director, Governmental Relations

Governor Northam Announces New Grant Program Supporting Local Food and Farming Infrastructure 

Local governments can apply for grants to support farmers markets and small-scale agricultural facilities October 1 through November 15

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a new grant program designed to support equitable and sustainable local food systems for small-scale agricultural producers, farmers markets, and food hubs. It is a new component of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.

This Infrastructure Program competitively awards matching grants of up to $25,000 in partnership with local governments for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. Special reduced match requirements are available to projects in economically distressed localities, underserved communities, or for those benefiting multiple small-scale producers.

“Ensuring equitable access to healthy and affordable food for all Virginians has always been a priority of this administration,” said Governor Northam. “One of the best ways we can do this is by partnering with local governments to make strategic investments in our local food systems.  The local infrastructure created by this new program will enable Virginia’s small-scale farmers and food producers to thrive, grow local economies, and improve food access.”

“One of the greatest strengths of Virginia agriculture, the Commonwealth’s largest private sector industry, is its diversity,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased that the new Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Infrastructure Program provides another economic development tool for localities. These resources make funding accessible to communities that need it most and benefit farmers and producers, as well as our local food systems.”

Delegate Sam Rasoul’s House Bill 2068 created this grant program during the 2021 General Assembly session. The legislation authorizes the Governor to award grants of up to $25,000 to political subdivisions.

The reimbursable grants are primarily for capital projects at new and existing food hubs, farmers markets, commercial kitchens and other value-added facilities such as those for the processing and packaging of meats, dairy products, produce, or other Virginia-grown products. Small farmers, food producers, local food systems advocates and others interested in building their community’s local food and farming infrastructure are encouraged to learn more about the program and work with their localities to identify and develop suitable projects.

Applications for this funding can be submitted October 1 through November 15. Final award announcements will be made no later than December 31 of this year.   

“The Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Infrastructure program, with its focus on supporting local food and farming, benefits both our communities and farmers,” said Delegate Rasoul. “The money spent with local farmers and growers stays close to home and is reinvested with the businesses and services in our communities.”

The new Infrastructure Program joins two other the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development funded programs, all of which are administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Facility Grants Program is a Governor’s discretionary economic development incentive for new and expanding facilities that, in addition to creating new jobs and investment, add value to Virginia-grown products. The Planning Grants Program funds a wide range of activities that support agriculture and forestry-based industries more broadly and is designed to empower localities to develop creative solutions tailored to their unique needs.

Additional information about the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Infrastructure program is available here. Questions about the program and upcoming application workshops should be directed to Jennifer.Perkins@vdacs.virginia.gov.