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Governor Northam announces grants for food system, farmer support

Charlotte, Grayson and Page counties are receiving the funds.
Courtesy The Office of The Governor
Courtesy The Office of The Governor(The Office of The Governor)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 7:12 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A few local counties are receiving a boost to their agricultural development structures in the form of new grants announced Tuesday.

Governor Ralph Northam says 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. These funds are meant to support local agriculture initiatives by leveraging funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC), Opportunity Appalachia and GO Virginia.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry and a critical component of healthy rural economies in Southern and Southwest Virginia,” added the governor. “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.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) handles the distribution of the grants and is now 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.”

A breakdown of the usages for the counties is as follows:

-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”

Questions about the program and application process can be relayed to Jennifer.Perkins@vdacs.virginia.gov. Click here for more about the grants.

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