McAuliffe announces Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Planning Grants

terry mcauliffeGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced the award of three planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.

The Commonwealth awarded a total of $64,000 to projects by Floyd County and the New River Valley Regional Commission to support the growth of agricultural and forestry industries 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 overall economic development strategies.

“Continuing to support Virginia’s diverse agricultural and forestry sectors is a key part of my plan to build the new Virginia Economy,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “Local and regional efforts to study and support these industries in Virginia, like those being undertaken by Floyd County and the New River Valley Regional Commission, should be recognized as vital parts of Virginia’s larger economic development efforts. We will continue to identify and support initiatives that strengthen agriculture and forestry for localities and regions, which will ultimately bolster one of the largest industries central to the overall success of our economy.”

“I applaud Floyd County and the New River Valley Regional Commission for their strong commitment to Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries, and we are pleased to give them the tools to help them support those industries,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden.  “Floyd County’s comprehensive approach to building entrepreneurial capacity from producer to customer will have lasting impacts on the area’s agriculture and forestry industries. I applaud Augusta, Halifax, Loudoun and Rockingham Counties for partnering with the New River Valley Regional Commission to study the economic impact of agritourism, an important and growing sector of Virginia’s agricultural economy. I am also excited that the AFID program can be part of the efforts to create the Old School Food Center at Prices Fork.  These three initiatives all support Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industry sectors, and are a part of furthering the Governor’s plan to build a new Virginia economy.”

The AFID planning grant program has awarded $754,650 in AFID Planning Grant funds to 37 projects covering 57 unique localities across the Commonwealth. The planning grants are part of the Governor’s AFID program, an economic development tool for agriculture and forestry value-added or processing projects. AFID planning grants are available for political subdivisions of the Commonwealth who have expressed interest in growing or developing their agriculture and forestry industries by strategically targeting practices or integrating practices that add value to Virginia grown agriculture and forestry 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.

Details on the grant awards are below:

Floyd County Ag-Forestry Value-Chain Enhancement Program
ApplicantFloyd County
SummaryFloyd County is implementing an initiative to assist its county agriculture, food and forestry based businesses to achieve greater sales, income, and employees.  This multipronged effort includes surveying local businesses and assets in this sector to identify needs and opportunities, creating a Floyd brand, providing direct assistance to new businesses, and researching options for an online store of made-in-Floyd products.
Economic and Fiscal Impact of Agritourism in Virginia
ApplicantNew River Valley Regional Commission (lead applicant) and Augusta, Halifax, Loudoun and Rockingham Counties (co-applicants)
SummaryAgritourism is an important part of Virginia’s agricultural economy.  Understanding its economic impact to the Commonwealth is critical to sustaining and growing support for this industry.  There is significant interest among the industry and its partners for a new study to be conducted and shared at the 2017 Virginia Conference on Agritourism.   The purpose of this study is to measure the economic and fiscal impact of agritourism in Virginia.  The study will be conducted by Virginia Tech.
Old School Food Center at Prices Fork
ApplicantNew River Valley Regional Commission (lead applicant) and Montgomery County and Town of Blacksburg (co-applicants)
SummaryNew River Valley Regional Commission is leading an effort involving Montgomery County and Town of Blacksburg to redevelop the former Prices Fork Elementary school site to create new mixed income rental housing and a center for food entrepreneurs. Over $1 million in grant funding has been secured to convert approximately 4,000 square feet of the school building into a kitchen, local food restaurant and retail area that could be used to sell foods prepared in the kitchen.  The project will help the Old School Food Center define the Center’s target markets and their specific product/service needs in order to develop a sustainable business model, appropriate kitchen design, and business incubator training curriculum.
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