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Application period opening for agriculture grants

money-newlinksGov. Bob McDonnell announced this week that applications are now being accepted for the Fiscal Year 2014 round of planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund).  The program, which encourages local governments to promote agriculture and forestry and incorporate the needs of these important industries into their economic development planning efforts, is part of the governor’s jobs-creation and economic development agenda.

“Over the course of my Administration, I have encouraged local governments to join me in focusing on creating jobs and opportunities for all Virginians,” said McDonnell.  “Since agriculture and forestry are two of the Commonwealth’s largest industries and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs across the state, it is important that we support local and regional governments in their efforts to make these industries part of local governments’ plans for economic growth and prosperity.”

The competitive grant program allows individual localities to apply for up to $20,000 in matching funds, or up to $35,000 for multi-jurisdictional applications, to undertake efforts that support agriculture and forestry-based businesses.  These efforts might include developing a strategic plan for agriculture and forestry economic development, creating new local policies and zoning ordinances that better support these industries, or funding feasibility studies and predevelopment work for new facilities that bring significant and lasting benefits to the local agriculture and forestry sectors.

“We hoped the flexible funding the AFID planning grants program offers would generate a variety of innovative and thoughtful projects supporting the interests of the agriculture and forestry sectors, and we have not been disappointed.” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.  “The eleven projects awarded funding in the last round of AFID planning grants are helping to facilitate new ideas and plans for productive economic development opportunities within the Commonwealth’s diverse agricultural and forestry industries.  We expect the same quality of applications in this round, as well.”

Applications for the FY 2014 round of funding are due September 16, 2013, with award announcements expected in October.  Two virtual application workshops will be held.  The first workshop will be on July 30, and the second on August 21.  Both will be from 10 – 11 a.m.  Localities interested in applying for an AFID planning grant should first reach out to their local and/or regional agricultural and forestry community to discuss potential projects, as well as local economic development professionals and other key stakeholders.  A two-page program description and the required grant application are available at: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/planning.shtml.  For additional information about the program and the application workshops, e-mail Stephen Versen, AFID program contact at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) atstephen.versen@vdacs.virginia.gov.

According to a 2013 economic impact study, 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.

 

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).

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