RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) – On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam announced eight projects will receive nearly $160,000 in funding through the inaugural round of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) Fund Infrastructure Grant Program.

Projects that will benefit from this round of funding will support local food systems and includes new and existing meat processors, goat dairies, farmers’ markets and community canneries.

“With agriculture as our largest industry and often the biggest driver of our rural economies, making targeted investments that our farmers and food producers rely on is vitally important. These grants will help to diversify Virginia’s agriculture across every corner of the Commonwealth. I congratulate the communities on putting forward such compelling projects and thank them for their partnership.”  

Gov. Ralph Northam

The AFID Infrastructure Program funds a wide variety of projects that will have a direct impact on both producers through infrastructure improvements and on consumers by expanding access to fresh, local products.

Over half of the projects are in economically-distressed communities with several focusing on expanding fresh food access to underserved communities through the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Virginia Fresh Match.

Below are the projects that will receive funding from the grant program:

Equipment for New Meat Processor

  • Floyd County ($23,124)
    • The Economic Development Authority of Floyd County is partnering with Firehouse Farms to establish a new meat processing facility for local livestock farmers. The facility will open as a custom-exempt facility later this winter and will become a USDA-inspected facility in two to three years. Funding will be used to purchase needed equipment for the facility, including meat saws, a meat grinder, and a vacuum sealer. 

New Boilers for Community Canneries

  • Franklin County (25,000)
    • Funding for this project will support infrastructure improvements for the Callaway Cannery and Glade Hill Community Canneries. The canneries allow for community members and local producers to support each other and preserve their harvests. Funds will go toward replacing the boilers at the facilities, which have been in operation for 80 years.

Meat Processor Improvements

  • City of Harrisonburg ($25,000)
    • The City of Harrisonburg seeks funding to make necessary infrastructure improvements to T&E Meats, a small, USDA-inspected red meat slaughterhouse and meat packing facility that has been in operation since 1940 and serves roughly 300 producers each year. Funding for this project will be used to replace the packing room’s outdated cooling system and purchase a new patty making machine.

Farmers’ Market Improvements

  • Henrico County ($16,000)
    • The County of Henrico seeks funding to support the Dorey Park Farmers’ Market (DPFM). DPFM recently completed their fourth year in operation, hosting 25-30 vendors, 17 of whom are producers or create value-added agriculture products from Virginia-grown products. DPFM offers SNAP benefits and a SNAP Match program for purchases of fresh food. Funding will be used to add electricity for vendors, landscaping to outline the market space, signage, and a structure to house market management and SNAP benefits. 

Processing Equipment for Goat Dairies

  • King William County ($16,675)
    • King William and King & Queen Counties partnered to apply for funding for new equipment that will serve three goat dairies (Bees Knees Farm, Riverwatch Farm, and Cardinal Lane Farm). The farms practice sustainable agriculture, source local hay, and sell their products to local retailers and wineries. Funding will be utilized to purchase a commercial milking system, cheese processing equipment, and milk house expansion.

Farmers’ Market Improvements

  • City of Martinsville ($4,088)
    • This project will assist the City of Martinsville in improving the Uptown Martinsville Farmers’ Market. Funds will be used to purchase shades to protect produce and vendors from the sun, new commercial grade scales to speed transactions, and a storage shed. In addition to securing valuable items when the market is closed, it will serve as an office for the market manager and provide an easily identifiable location for customers to go to take advantage of SNAP benefits.

New Boiler for Community Cannery

  • Prince Edward County ($25,000)
    • Prince Edward County seeks funds to replace the nearly 50 year old boiler system at the Prince Edward County Cannery, which has been unable to keep pace with growing demand. As an FDA-registered Food Canning Establishment and VDACS-inspected commercial kitchen, the facility serves both public and commercial clients through an innovative partnership with the non-profit Virginia Food Works.

Produce Aggregation Infrastructure

  • Shenandoah County ($25,000)
    • Shenandoah County, in partnership with Town of New Market, requests funding to enable local produce aggregator Jon Henry General Store to flash-freeze high volumes of Virginia-grown fruits and vegetables from producers in the Shenandoah Valley region and then package the frozen produce into retail ready bags for wholesale distribution to local retailers. Funds will be used to offset the cost of the purchase and installation of a new flash freezing unit and walk-in freezer.  

The next round of applications for the AFID Infrastructure Grant Program will take place this spring from April 1 through May 15, 2022, with award announcements being made by June 30, 2022.

For more information about the program, click here.