VIRGINIA COMPANIES RECEIVE GRANTS FOR VALUE-ADDED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that 11 Virginia farmers and agribusinesses have received Value-Added Producer Grants ranging from $37,000 to $300,000 to promote small business expansion and entrepreneurship opportunities. The grants provide local businesses with access capital, technical assistance and new markets for products and services. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded 298 grants valued at more than $40 million to recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage. The Virginia companies receiving grants are:
· The Homeplace Vineyard, Inc., Chatham - $208,571
· Virginia Wineries Association Cooperative, Richmond - $100,000
· Rosemont of Virginia, LLC (vineyard, winery), LaCrosse - $300,000
· Virginia Wineworks, Charlottesville - $149,125
· Messicks Farm Market, Midland - $60,000
· Dairy Energy, Inc., Chatham - $100,000
· Springview Farm, LLC (beef cattle), Jetersville - $37,250
· Baker, Inc. (pork), Mount Jackson - $110,000
· AgriBerry, LLC, Mechanicsville - $300,000
· Grayson Natural Foods, Independence - $280,735
· Virginia Aqua‐Farmers Network, LLC, Farmville - $300,000
One of the examples of how an award can make an impact is AgriBerry, LLC of Mechanicsville, Virginia. AgriBerry is the dream of Anne and Chuck Geyer whose vision is to establish a consumer supported summer berry farm and become an agricultural training facility for first-time workers. They realized the region’s demand for an assortment of fresh, local, seasonal berries and fruits. With the assistance of a working capital value-added grant, AgriBerry has now expanded to more than 35 acres of red raspberries and other fruit. They hire a number of local workers each growing season. Agriberry participates in both the Virginia Grown and Virginia’s Finest programs.
Another example is Baker Farms, Inc., of Mount Jackson, Virginia. Owner Steve Baker raises hogs on his family farm. He has his own brood sows for his replacement pigs. Currently his market hogs go to a custom slaughter and processing plant where they are processed into sausage, bacon and hams that he sells directly to his customers at farmers’ markets and small retail markets, as well as wholesale customers. This grant will allow him to take the whole carcass or carcass cuts to his own processing and cut-and-wrap facility in order to create value-added products. The grant will allow him to control some of his further processing costs. His plans call for a new 3,000 square feet building, with an additional attached pad for future expansion up to 7,000 square feet. When fully operational, Baker Farms will hire up to two full and two part-time local employees in the processing plant. VDACS Office of Agriculture and Forestry Development, Shenandoah County officials and the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assisted Baker with his business expansion and his USDA grant application.
Funds for Value-Added grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants included independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.
Director of Communications
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
102 Governor Street
Richmond VA 23227