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WHEREAS, berry crops are enjoyed by millions of consumers every day, and Virginia berry production provides over 6 million pounds of fresh, nutritious, wholesome berries and have an estimated value of $8 million in farm income annually; and
WHEREAS, the berry production industry is a part of Virginia's rich agricultural diversity that includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries; and
WHEREAS, through the cooperation of producers, allied industry, land grant universities, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, hundreds of berry farms are flourishing across the state, and berry crops are recognized as potential profitable agricultural enterprises for Virginia farmers; and
WHEREAS, the production of berries provides employment for many of our Commonwealth’s citizens and provides supplemental income for a number of rural families who farm on a part-time basis; and
WHEREAS, with increasing consumer demand for locally-produced food, berry production provides an opportunity for families to travel to U-pick locations and farm stands and shop at farmers markets and local stores for fresh and wholesome locally grown berries; and
WHEREAS, berry crops offer a wide variety of tastes, flavors, textures, and colors to the consumers’ diet, are nutritious food choices, and ranked high for their health benefits, in particular, their antioxidant properties; and
WHEREAS, berry crops are an important component of an ecological balance, providing natural diversity and a good source of pollination for bees; and
WHEREAS, Virginia Berry Month recognizes berry producers’ stewardship of Virginia’s farmland, their positive environmental and economic impacts, and appreciates the social and cultural significance that berry production provides to the Commonwealth;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize June 2018 as VIRGINIA BERRY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.