Governor Bob McDonnell has announced the first-ever grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to Homestead Creamery, Inc. during a visit to the Franklin County company’s processing facility and market in Burnt Chimney. Over the next three years, Homestead will invest $1.1 million in a facility expansion and upgrade, almost double the number of full-time employees by hiring an additional 20 full-time positions, and increase its purchases of Virginia grown agriculture products by almost $1.5 million.
“Awarding the first-ever AFID grant to a company like Homestead Creamery, with its full commitment to Virginia farmers and Virginia grown products, is the perfect way to launch this new program from my administration’s economic development and jobs creation agenda,” said Governor McDonnell, who proposed the AFID during the 2012 General Assembly session. “Homestead is just the type of company for which this program was built, one that can take the high quality agricultural products Virginia has to offer and turn them into value-added products consumers are seeking. I’m certain the AFID will provide further growth opportunities for Virginia’s diverse agricultural economy, the Commonwealth’s largest industry.”
“The creation of AFID was about incentivizing new and expanding agricultural processing facilities, but it was also about generating additional revenue and growth opportunities for Virginia farmers,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd P. Haymore. “The Homestead Creamery project is exciting because with the assistance of AFID, Homestead is going to be able to increase its product offerings and double its employment numbers while also increasing its purchases from area farmers, helping those individual farming operations realize greater revenue in the process as well.”
“Homestead Creamery is best known for delicious ice cream and all natural, fresh milk and dairy products,” said president Donnie Montgomery, a third-generation dairy farmer. “On behalf of our company, I thank the governor, our local elected officials and the tobacco commission for their support and confidence. We look forward to growing Homestead with traditional dairy methods that consumers are embracing as they seek all-natural products for their families.”
“Agriculture is big business in Franklin County, and we’re delighted to be the first locality in the Commonwealth with a business benefiting from a new state incentive program that recognizes the economic benefits and contributions of local farmers and growers,” said David Cundiff, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors and a commissioner of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.
The three-year expansion project will add warehousing and cold storage space and production capacity for new dairy products, including cheese, yogurt and sour cream. The new production lines and processing capacity will enable the company to balance its milk supply and increase the volume and variety of products offered through all of its distribution channels. Homestead projects that more than 45 agricultural producers in the Commonwealth will be impacted by the project as a result of increased production at its operations in Franklin County.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agriculture and Forestry Development Services (AFDS) worked with Homestead and Franklin County to finalize the grant. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership also provided additional analysis of the grant proposal, as well as assisting AFDS and the Agriculture and Forestry Secretariat with counsel in launching the AFID program. Governor McDonnell approved a $60,000 grant from the AFID to assist Franklin County with the project. Matching funds are being provided through a $45,000 grant from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, administered by the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, and a Franklin County grant of $30,000.
About Homestead Creamery, Inc.
Homestead Creamery, Inc. is a producer and distributer of bottled milk, ice cream and other dairy products that also maintains a store featuring Virginia’s Finest and Virginia Grown products at its production facility in Burnt Chimney. The company distributes to a number of grocery and specialty stores, college dining facilities and also maintains home delivery service of their products and local produce. All of the milk, cream, eggs and produce used by Homestead in its products are 100 percent Virginia grown.
About the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund
The creation of the AFID was part of Governor McDonnell’s jobs-creation and economic development agenda during the 2012 session of the General Assembly. Funded at $1 million in each year of the biennium, the AFID is broken into two categories with $750,000 going to large grants to assist local efforts in expanding current or attracting new agriculture and forestry processing facilities using Virginia-grown products (http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/afid.shtml) and $250,000 dedicated to small grants to assist localities in improving local economic development efforts relating to agribusiness (http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/planning.shtml).