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Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: February 23, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Michael Wallace, Michael.Wallace@vdacs.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Awards Grants to Strengthen Local Food Systems, Support Minority Farmers and Innovative Livestock Production

Charlotte, Grayson, and Page counties to receive funding from Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund

CHARLOTTE COUNTY—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Charlotte County, Grayson County, and Page County will each receive a grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture initiatives. The grants will leverage funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC), Opportunity Appalachia, and GO Virginia.

This announcement followed Governor Northam’s visit to Charlotte County today to where he highlighted one of the three projects receiving AFID Planning Grants. Governor Northam toured Archlynn Farm and met with members of the Southside Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association, a group of small and minority-owned farmers working collectively to aggregate and market produce. Photos from the Governor’s visit are available below.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry and a critical component of healthy rural economies in Southern and Southwest Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “Our administration is pleased to support the innovative efforts in Charlotte, Grayson, and Page counties that are helping local agricultural producers and agribusinesses diversify their operations and create sustainable growth.”

Charlotte County will use the $20,000 AFID Planning Grant to support efforts to diversify its agricultural sector. The funding will help facilitate the growth of the Southside Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association by providing administrative support and equipment upgrades at a new TRRC-funded facility. Association members include former tobacco producers who are shifting to fruit and vegetable production as a way to maintain the health of their farms’ finances and to keep the land in the family.

Grayson County will leverage its federal Opportunity Zone designation, an investment from Opportunity Appalachia, and support from LOCUS Impact Investing to help make the county a hub for specialized livestock production. A $20,000 AFID Planning Grant will be used to provide the professional investor recruitment services needed to bring the production of high-value, pathogen-free sheep for biomedical research and associated applications to Grayson County.  

Page County will use the $12,000 AFID Planning Grant to support its Fresh Food Project to connect local farmers with local consumers and tourists with the goal of strengthening the region’s food system. This project will build on the GO Virginia-funded Agricultural Enterprise Center Feasibility Study in Region 8 by identifying ways to establish a supply chain for locally-grown foods.

“Partnership and innovation are essential ingredients to the success of agriculture and forestry in Virginia,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I commend our local government and agriculture partners for finding new resources and new ways for us to work together to ensure agriculture has a bright and dynamic future in the Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) administers the AFID Planning Grant program and is accepting applications on a rolling basis. Successful applicants 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. Questions about the program and application process should be directed to Jennifer.Perkins@vdacs.virginia.gov.

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