For Immediate Release: June 10, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Contact: Elaine Lidholm, (804) 786-7686, Elaine.Lidholm@vdacs.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Announces Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Planning Grants in Halifax and Botetourt County

~Two Projects Receive State Grants to Support Agricultural Development in Localities~

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the award of two planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.  Halifax County and Botetourt County have each been awarded $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, to support planning for the growth of agricultural and forestry development in the Commonwealth.  The AFID planning grant program encourages local governments to promote agriculture and forestry and incorporate the needs of these industries into their strategic economic development planning efforts. 

Speaking about the AFID planning grant awards, Governor McAuliffe said, “Identifying new ways to support Virginia’s diverse agricultural and forestry sectors is an important part of building a new Virginia economy.  Assisting local efforts to maintain and grow these critical industries and economic drivers lays the foundation for future projects in these communities and aids in the larger goal of continued growth in agriculture and forestry throughout the Commonwealth for years to come.  I applaud the leadership in Halifax and Botetourt Counties for exploring new ways to creatively incorporate these two industries into their overall economic development efforts.” 

“I am pleased to see localities continue to use the Governor’s AFID planning grant program in order to more fully integrate agriculture and forestry into their current and future economic development plans,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “Both Halifax and Botetourt Counties will use AFID grant funding to continue to incorporate agriculture and forestry into their strategic economic development plans both in the present and in planning for a future of innovative practices and growth. The continued success of the AFID planning grants program is encouraging localities to advance the new Virginia economy.” 

The AFID planning grant program 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 job creation and economic development efforts.  The planning grants are a part of the Governor’s AFID program, an economic development tool specific to agriculture and forestry value-added or processing projects. AFID economic development grants are available for political subdivisions of the Commonwealth who have expressed interest in growing their agriculture and forestry industries by strategically targeting businesses or practices that add value to Virginia-grown agriculture and forestal products. 

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) administers the AFID program and planning grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year.  Successful funding requests must demonstrate a clear need, a proposed solution, strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community, and the ability to provide cash or in-kind matching funds.  Localities interested in applying may visit http://vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/planning.shtml or contact AFID Fund Coordinator Stephen Versen at stephen.versen@vdacs.virginia.gov or 804.786.6911 for more information.

 

Details on the grant awards are below: 

 

Project Title:

A Strategic Plan for Agriculture in Halifax County

Applicant:

Halifax County

Award:

$20,000

Summary:

Halifax County is seeking funding to develop a strategic plan for agriculture to better understand the current and future capacity for agriculture and forestry operations in Halifax County while building on the rich agricultural heritage of the county.  The project will begin with the hiring of an experienced consultant, who will assess the local agricultural community through public meetings and will work closely with the AFID Grant Committee to develop a strategic plan.  The plan will contain a detailed assessment of the agriculture and forestry industries in Halifax, and, based on this assessment, will develop a comprehensive long-term prioritized strategic plan, with a corresponding implementation plan to be presented to the Agriculture Development Advisory Committee.

 

 

Project Title:

Agriculture Planning Study

Applicant:

Botetourt County

Award:

$10,000

Summary:

Botetourt County is seeking funding for an agricultural study and strategic plan, carried out in part by UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, to examine the current economic characteristics of the County’s and region’s agricultural industry and identify industry trends.  The study will examine the County’s future economic potential of agriculture and agriculturally-related business, and will gather information from focus groups, which will include the local agricultural community, businesses, and the general public.  This information will be used to develop strategic priorities and policy recommendations that will dovetail with the existing overall economic strategic plan and the existing tourism strategic plan.

According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, 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 generates more than $17 billion. These industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. More information about the Weldon Cooper Center’s study can be found at http://www.coopercenter.org/node/2/publications/economic-impacts-agriculture-and-forestry-virginia-revised-2012.

 

 

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