New Legislation Provides Grants to Beekeepers

On March 30, 2012, Governor McDonnell signed into law legislation from the 2012 session of the Virginia General Assembly that created the Beehive Grant Fund. Grants from the fund, which will be administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), will be available after January 1, 2013.

The fund will provide up to $125,000 in grants for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 and another $125,000 for FY 2013-2014. Beekeepers can get $200 per hive with a maximum of $2,400 per individual in grants. The grant program is official on July 1, 2012, however a beekeeper cannot apply for the grants until January 1, 2013. One of the reasons for this is a beehive would not have enough time to get established and last through the winter if it was started in July.

Registration procedures and the general requirements to qualify for the grant will be published later in the year and will be distributed to interested stakeholders, including the various local beekeeper associations. Interested beekeepers may add their name to the notification list now by e-mailing VABees@vdacs.virginia.gov to be included in all future mailings.

Beekeepers will find information on VDACS’ apiary inspections, the Virginia Pollinator program and more at vdacs.virginia.gov/plant&pest/apiary.shtml. For additional information, contact Keith Tignor at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 804.786.3515 or keith.tignor@vdacs.virginia.gov.

Virginia Farm Bureau achieves nine out of 11 budget successes

The General Assembly passed a budget on Wednesday, April 18. The next step is for the Governor to review the budget report and offer any amendments or veto the bill. If he signs the bill with no changes then the bill will become law on July 1, 2012.

Virginia Farm Bureau policy was achieved on nine out of 11 on the budget amendments. This brings our final total of successful issues for the General Assembly to 43 out of 51 policy issues.

Where Farm Bureau Policy Prevailed in the State Budget

Coyote Program: $40,000 was added each year of the biennium to bring the funding to a minimum amount of $120,000.

Reforestation of Timberlands Program; Computer Program Needed to Operate RT Program: $130,000 was added each year of the biennium to increase the amount of state matching fund to a total of $557,570. In addition, the General Assembly provided $120,000 each year of the biennium to replace the dysfunctional computer program used to distribute the funds to landowners. This was necessary to keep a functional RT Program.

Soil and Water Conservation District Operational and Technical Assistance Funding: The General Assembly restored $2.046 million for each year of the biennium for district operations. The General Assembly further requested the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a stakeholder group to develop recommendations for a long-term adequate, consistent and reliable funding formula for local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The General Assembly also prohibited the State Soil and Water Conservation Board or Department of Conservation and Recreation from changing any district boundary lines until after the General Assembly had time to respond and act upon the recommendations of the study.

Virginia Cooperative Extension: Both the House and Senate appropriated an additional $500,000 each of the fiscal years for a total of $1 million for the biennium.

Weights and Measures Program: The General Assembly eliminated the per device fee for weights and measures inspections. They added $250,000 for the first year of the biennium to the program to address the $2 million gap that has existed in the program for the last several years.

Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund: The General Assembly maintained the $1 million in funding for each year of the biennium.

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services International Marketing Opportunities: The General Assembly maintained the $260,000 each year of the biennium to support international marketing opportunities for Virginia agriculture and forestry products.

Beehive Grant Program: The General Assembly appropriated $250,000 to support the legislation creating the Beehive Incentive Grant Program.