Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that three projects – two to make locally grown produce available year round and one seeking to bring a major poultry producer to Southside Virginia – were awarded $60,000 in planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture & Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID). The AFID planning grant program encourages local governments to work with the agricultural community to identify projects and opportunities that can bring important benefits to local producers, and the community as a whole.
“Supporting Virginia’s diverse agricultural and forestry sectors is a great way to expand and diversify our economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Assisting localities in identifying potential new projects and implementing programs that strengthen agriculture and forestry in their communities and will contribute to building a 21st Century Virginia economy. Laying the foundation for possibly larger future projects in these communities, the relatively small, but important, amount of state support provided today allows localities to plan strategically and creatively about how to incorporate two of the state’s largest industries into their economic development efforts.”
The AFID planning grant program, funded annually at $250,000, was developed in 2012 to encourage local and regional governments to think strategically about how they can better support and integrate agriculture and forestry-based industries into their community’s overall economic development efforts. The planning grants are part of the larger Governor’s AFID program, an economic development tool specifically for agriculture and forestry value-added or processing projects. AFID economic development grants are available for political subdivisions of the Commonwealth interested in growing their agriculture and forestry industries by strategically targeting businesses that add value to Virginia grown agriculture and forestal products.
“Partnering with local governments to leverage their resources and innovative ideas on growing and supporting Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries, like we do with our AFID program, is good policy;” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd P. Haymore. “From innovative facilities that preserve locally grown produce for sale throughout the year to recruiting a major new industry to Southside, the projects funded today highlight the innovation and diversity of Virginia agriculture. Benefits from allowing localities to explore and capitalize on these kinds of opportunities have the potential to be felt throughout the business chain, from the individual producer level to the value-adding enterprise.”
Applications for AFID planning grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year. Successful funding requests must show a clear need to be addressed, a solution to be undertaken, demonstrate strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community, and be able to match each dollar requested with a dollar of local government funds, or allowable in-kind contributions. Localities interested in applying may visit http://vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/planning.shtml or contact Stephen Versen at email@example.com or 804.786.6911 for more information.
According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, agriculture and forestry are two of Virginia’s largest industries, with a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually. Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry induces over $17 billion. The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.
Details on the three grant awards are below:
1. Project Title: Local Food Initiative
Applicant: Franklin County
Summary: Franklin County is seeking an AFID Planning Grant to help Ferrum College implement a shared vision for making locally produced food a part of the County’s economic development strategy. Included in the project is the operation of a flash freezer and storage freezer that will assist in furthering use of local food production. This equipment will allow the College to double their purchases of local foods, increasing their local sourcing for campus food from an already impressive 30% to 60% from Virginia producers. In 2012, Ferrum College’s Dining Services purchased $250,000 worth of product from local producers. The roughly $100,000 project is also benefitting from $49,402 in Tobacco Commission funds. The project will allow for at least one Full-Time Equivalent position on campus and provide additional access to local foods for their 1,500 primarily-residential students and 300 faculty and staff. Ferrum is also working with Franklin County Public Schools on a pilot basis to provide fresh, local food to them as well.
2. Project Title: Virginia Produced: A Light Processing and Flash Freezing Hub for Virginia-Grown Produce
Applicant: City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County
Summary: This project will yield an actionable business plan for a flash freezing and light food processing hub, building on a feasibility study already completed by the Jefferson Area Board for Aging. The resulting business entity would source Albemarle County and Virginia-grown produce supplied by the Local Food Hub and distribute flash frozen bulk and retail packs and prepared meals to institutional customers such as the University of Virginia, Virginia Area Agencies on Aging, and specialty grocery retailers such as Whole Foods. Growers stand to benefit through greater demand for their crops and exposure to new purchasers. Local, wholesome food could be available year round for consumption by the local community.
3. Project Title: Integrated Poultry Industry Feasibility Study
Applicant: Pittsylvania County
Summary: To conduct an in-depth and independent feasibility study focused on attracting integrated poultry companies to Pittsylvania County. The study will inventory which companies are considering expanding, how and where a poultry complex could be located, which attributes of an area are attractive to poultry companies, and how the county can enhance its profile and marketing strategies to lobby these poultry companies. This feasibility study and the data it produces will be utilized to develop promotional pieces and to assist the county in the manner best suited to invite an integrator to Southern Virginia.