December 5, 2016 Newsletter

Virginia farmers are getting help to expand their business and adjust to a changing industry.

During the annual Virginia Farm Bureau convention held last Monday, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a new grant initiative called the Virginia Farm Business Development Program. This new program was established to help farmers and small agribusinesses invest in business development activities such as planning, market research and farm succession development. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) will award approximately 30 Virginia Farm Business Development Program grants of up to $5,000 annually to qualified applicants.

Two operations, including Joe’s Trees in Craig County and Benjamins B. Ellis Jr. Farms in Essex County, were the first to receive money. It will help with farmers with marketing, food safety and website design, among other business needs.

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry and a critical part of the new Virginia economy. This new program encourages our farmers and small agribusinesses to plan for growth, conduct marketing activities and address the transition of the farm from one generation to the next, thus strengthening the future of Virginia’s agriculture and promoting our products in the global marketplace. Farmers and small agribusinesses that have a clear plan for managing economic risk, broadening their income sources and enhancing their marketing strategy are better able to endure the ups and downs than those who fail to plan.

Farmers and small agribusinesses that produce or process agricultural or forest products and have been in business for at least three years are eligible to apply. Small agribusinesses must have no more than 20 full-time employees. Eligible business development activities include, but are not limited to: business plans, business restructuring, farm succession planning, feasibility studies, marketing plans, website design, branding and marketing materials, preparation for marketing, food safety or animal welfare certification, recipe development, and product label development and design. Grants are not available for farm or agribusiness operations such as equipment, facilities or insurance.

The grant program is also designed to help producers transition their farms from one generation to the next. Please feel free to contact my office if you would like to find out how to get an application.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help assist with in any way, please do not hesitate to call me (434) 821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov. You can also keep up with me on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.

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