Grown Here at Home: Governor Youngkin hopes to increase AFID grant funding in budget proposal

A grant program put in place 10 years ago, continues to help both large and small businesses in the ag and forestry industries.
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 7:28 AM EST
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FRANKLIN CO., Va. (WDBJ) - On December 17, 2012, Homestead Creamery became the first recipient of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund award. The grant allowed the creamery to undergo a $1.1 million expansion and upgrade, and created 20 full-time jobs.

“I believe the results of the AFID program have shown that it was a great decision and a wise investment,” said Franklin County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ronnie Thompson.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services hosted a 10th anniversary celebration at Homestead Creamery. Legislators and government officials who helped make the program a reality attended the event. From the very beginning, AFID has received bi-partisan support.

“I went back and looked and pulled the summary of the bill. It got through the house and the senate without any dissenting votes,” said Augusta County 17th Clerk of Circuit Court Steve Landes.

Agriculture is the number one industry in Virginia; forestry is number three. The two play a huge role in driving our local economies.

“Agriculture and forestry in the last five years have rebounded better than other industries. In fact, it went from a 91-billion-dollar industry to a 105-billion-dollar industry,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matt Lohr.

AFID grants are awarded in partnership with local governments that provide matching funds. Since 2012, grants have supported 125 projects. Over 12-million dollars has been awarded to help new and expanding ag and forestry businesses in the Commonwealth – creating over 4,000 jobs.

“Value added products allow farmers or agribusinesses to capture more of the consumer dollar as in the case with Homestead Creamery. It is this customer value that drives the growth of the ag and forestry industry in Virginia. The AFID grant program really filled a gap whereby these types of value-added businesses wouldn’t qualify for traditional economic incentive grant programs,” said Senior Vice President of Governmental Relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Martha Moore.

Right now, the AFID program receives about $1 million from the state. Governor Glenn Youngkin is asking the General Assembly to double that amount. He’ll deliver his budget to the money committees on December 15th.