McDonnell signs ag, forestry development bills

During a visit to Cave View Farm in Weyers Cave today on his “Virginia: Growing Strong” statewide tour, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed agriculture and forestry development legislation passed during the recently concluded 2012 session of the General Assembly.

All four pieces are part of the governor’s jobs and economic development legislative agenda.  The governor was joined by members of the General Assembly, representatives from the agriculture and forestry industries as well as local economic development associations and chambers of commerce.

During the event he signed legislation establishing the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund which will function similar to the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.  He also signed legislation adding the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and the Secretary of Technology as voting members of the board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority to increase coordination among economic development entities.

Cave View Farm is a 2,000 acre dairy and crop farm, with 1,100 cows and the highest silo in Virginia, which stands 148 feet high.  In 2010, Cave View Farm received the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s “Shenandoah Basin Clean Water Award.”  McDonnell first visited the farm as a candidate for governor in August 2009.

“Three years ago we came to this farm to discuss our vision for how to grow Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries to help create more good paying jobs for our citizens,” McDonnell said. “Today, we can point to the results of that work. Virginia agriculture exports reached an all-time high in 2011, as we exported a record $2.35 billion worth of products.  Working with the General Assembly, we’ve significantly increased international marketing funds to help us capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities in countries like China and India and other key regions in the global marketplace.”

Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill) noted, “We are seeing an agricultural boom in Virginia and the Governor’s focus on growing the industry is showing results.  With so much exciting news about exports and growth being announced over the last two years, it is further testament that this is a critically important industry in Virginia.  By implementing measures that better coordinate economic development entities in the Commonwealth to help grow the agriculture and forestry industries, we will be able to attract new agribusiness to the state and export more of our products and goods to emerging markets.  This will lead to new opportunities for the agriculture and forestry communities and result is more record growth of Virginia’s largest industries.”

 

Bills signed today

HB766 (Landes)/ SB128 (Stanley) – Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund

·         Creates the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund

·         The bill establishes an economic development grant and loan program targeted specifically at agricultural and forestry operations.

·         Despite agriculture and forestry being the two largest industries in the Commonwealth, this legislation is the first to create an economic development incentive targeted specifically at these industries.

·         AFID is structured much like the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, but is specifically designed to accommodate the unique aspects of agriculture and forestry projects.

·         AFID will provide grants for projects that utilize Virginia grown products in value-added or processing facilities.

·         These agriculture and forestry value-added or processing facilities can have tremendous impacts on the regions in which they locate.

o   Areas where these facilities typically locate are rural with higher unemployment

o   Agriculture is already a core economic driver in the area, so facilities of this kind can build on the region’s existing strength.

o   These facilities have a greater economic ripple effect as a result of growers in the region having a new market in which to sell products.

§  Farm revenue increases as a result of these facilities

§  Jobs are created on the farm and in the facility

§  Greater opportunities to increase farm profitability lead to more farmland preserved

§  The entire region sees an economic benefit from revenue generated on the farms and at the facility

HB292 (Scott, Ed)/ SB405 (Hanger) – Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; increases membership of board of directors

·         Adds the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry (SAF) and the Secretary of Technology (SOT) as voting members of the board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority

·         Legislation continues the Governor’s strategy to fully integrate agriculture and forestry, the two largest industries in Virginia, into the broader economic development and job creation efforts of Virginia.

·         Having SOT on the VEDP board will bring insights regarding emerging technology markets and provide technical insight into the type of infrastructure necessary to support technology adoption.

·         SAF membership on VEDP board indicates to prospective companies that agriculture and forestry interests are important parts of Virginia’s economic development efforts.

·         As a VEDP board member, SAF will play an even greater role in shaping the programs and policies which will further investment and job creation in agribusiness and related sectors.

·         Technology remains an economic engine in the Commonwealth and SOT’s presence on the VEDP board will provide valuable opportunities to leverage expansion/relocation activities in the IT sector into valuable job opportunities.


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