RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Floyd County and Loudoun County will each receive a grant of $20,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both projects fill an immediate need for farmers in these communities who are struggling after the loss of sales to restaurants and at farmers’ markets. The grants will be matched by more than $80,000 in additional funds coming from the applicant communities and their non-profit partners.
Agriculture plays a critical role in the local economies of both Floyd and Loudoun counties. These grants will help agricultural producers mitigate the short-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future growth by providing support as they establish methods for marketing and selling their products online.
Floyd County will use this funding to create a new digital marketplace for its farmers and provide technical assistance for using it. The County will also add new refrigerated drop-off locations that will allow producers to serve consumers throughout the week.
Loudoun County will launch a new e-commerce platform, “Loudoun Made, Loudoun Grown Marketplace,” to better connect farmers with the region’s consumers and provide support through advertising, technical assistance, and establishing drop-off locations.
“Our administration is committed to using every tool at our disposal to support Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries during these uncertain and challenging times,” said Governor Northam. “I commend the efforts of Floyd and Loudoun counties to partner with stakeholders in their communities and help local farmers adapt to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In June, Governor Northam announced newly revised guidelines to better equip the AFID Fund Planning Grant program to function as a resource for local governments seeking to assist their agricultural communities during the COVID-19 emergency. This included a commitment to expediting the review and award process for applications that address challenges related to the public health crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed opportunities for improvement in our food supply chains and highlighted the significance of having local options for fresh products,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased that we can partner with these localities and make good use of the AFID Planning Grant program to build innovative new connections between producers and consumers that will strengthen our local agriculture sector.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the AFID Planning Grant program, is accepting applications on a rolling basis. Successful applications will demonstrate a clear need, a proposed solution, strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community, and the ability to provide matching funds. Additional information about the AFID Planning Grant program is available here. Please direct questions about the program and application process to Jennifer.Perkins@vdacs.virginia.gov.
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