McAuliffe announces first Mid-Atlantic commercial hops processing operation
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Black Hops Farm, LLC will initially convert 15 acres of former pasture land into a hopsyard and build a new processing facility, thus becoming the largest hopsyard in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic’s first commercial-scale hops production and processing facility.
The new Black Hops Farm facility will revolutionize the hops industry in Virginia, allowing hops growers to harvest and process efficiently their hops for market. The new processing capacity will enable existing Virginia producers to move assuredly in expanding their production and will encourage new producers to enter the market by removing key barriers to the profitable production and marketing of local hops. In addition to supporting current and prospective hops producers, the facility will benefit Virginia’s craft brewery industry as a whole by increasing the amount of hops produced in the state, as well as their quality and their ability to be used by a greater number of brewers.
Speaking at Black Hops Farm about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am pleased to announce that Virginia, thanks to this important investment by Black Hops Farm, will be home to the first commercial-scale hops processing operation in the Mid-Atlantic region. This is a significant win for the Commonwealth as it fills a critical need for current and future craft brewers and builds on my administration’s efforts to increase Virginia’s position in the fast growing craft beer industry. In addition, this entrepreneurial venture is an excellent example of the important role that our diverse agricultural industry can and will play in my economic development strategic plan to build a New Virginia Economy.”
The company, providing important hops processing services for the entire region, will invest about $1 million, create 11 new jobs in Loudoun County, and source more than 60 percent of their hops from Virginia over the next three years. The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with Loudoun County and Black Hops Farm on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).
“This one-of-a-kind facility in Loudoun County represents another step forward for Virginia as we become bigger players in the nation’s fast growing craft beer industry, which saw sales increase by more than 17 percent in 2013,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “This project enhances the Commonwealth’s position in the industry, which had an economic impact of just under $625 million last year, by promoting the research and production of hops, a huge potential cash crop for our agricultural producers.”
Black Hops Farms will invest in the site improvements, buildings, and equipment needed to convert the former residence and horse farm into a commercial hops production and processing facility. A key role for the new processing facility will be to provide hops for Commonwealth Gin, as it is one of the important botanicals used in the production, so it can eventually be a 100 percent Virginia-sourced spirit.
“We’re so excited to be playing a part in the growth of the hops industry in Virginia here in partnership with Loudoun County,” said Jonathan Staples of Black Hops Farm. “Our collaboration with Solomon Rose and Organarchy Hops from Maryland has already made this a regional hops project with the benefit of their skills, expertise, and knowledge of the industry. The Governor’s leading role in projects as large as Stone in Richmond, to our facility in Lucketts, makes clear to us that the state is committed to being a major player in the beer and spirits world and has allowed us to accelerate this project by several years. With so many farmers already growing hops across the state, we’re hoping that we can play a part in making Virginia the hops capital of the East Coast.”
In supporting the AFID grant to Black Hops Farm, LLC, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Shawn Williams said, “This state-of-the-art hops processing facility will sustain the quality and function of Loudoun-grown hops past the harvest season and will set Loudoun as a premier grower of hops on the East Coast. This type of agricultural business exactly fits the Board of Supervisors’ Rural Economy Business Development Strategy, and will contribute to the economic vibrancy of Loudoun County.”
Loudoun County Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer added, “The construction of this hops drying and pelletizing facility will support Loudoun’s emerging farm brewery sector, and strengthen the link between the county’s rural and urban economies. It will encourage more local entrepreneurs to grow hops, because having the ability to process them will expand the market for them. This is the catalyst that we need to increase agricultural production of hops in Loudoun County.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) worked with Loudoun County to secure this expansion for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $40,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist Loudoun County with the project. Black Hops Farm is also committing to purchase at least 3,500 pounds of Virginia hops over the next three years, an average of 61% of their purchases.
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 induces over $17 billion. The 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.
About the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund
The AFID Fund was created during the 2012 session of the General Assembly and is being embraced by the McAuliffe Administration as an important tool in growing the Commonwealth’s agriculture and forestry sector and helping to make Virginia the leading exporter of agricultural and forest products on the East Coast. More information about the AFID grant, which has the flexibility to assist projects large and small throughout Virginia, can be found at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/afid.shtml.