~ Press release issued by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin affirmed his commitment to supporting Virginia agriculture by allocating $40,000 in Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund facility grant funding to Madison County-based Hidden Pines Meat Processing LLC.
The grant will allow the business to expand operations to meet “surging consumer demand for locally produced meats” and to help improve Virginia’s meat processing infrastructure.
Youngkin doubled down on this pledge in early October, announcing that Fauquier County received $20,000 in AFID planning grant funding. The funding will be used to conduct a study to examine the viability of operating a meat processing facility at the Fauquier Livestock Exchange in Marshall.
“Increasing Virginia’s meat processing capacity has been a priority of livestock producers for quite some time, but achieving that goal is something that cannot be accomplished by individual stakeholders,” said Stefanie Taillon, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation senior assistant director of governmental relations.
“AFID planning grants are an incredibly important tool, not only from a funding perspective, but because collaboration between local government and Virginia’s agricultural and forestry communities is essential to long-term growth of the industry, while also addressing immediate needs.”
Fauquier County Farm Bureau, Fauquier County local government and the PATH Foundation contributed an additional $20,000 in matched funds for the study. The Fauquier County Agricultural Advisory Committee will oversee the venture.
Fauquier Farm Bureau President Tim Mize noted that livestock farmers in Virginia’s northern Piedmont are facing as much as a year-long wait to have their animals processed.
“One of the biggest concerns that we have from an ag-development standpoint in Fauquier County is the loss of infrastructure, and being a livestock county, processing of livestock is very important,” Mize said.
“It’s become a bottleneck, and any investment that helps localities develop needed infrastructure that supports agriculture is always going to be popular with farmers and consumers who’ve become much more interested in where they’re buying food from,” he added. “This grant will help with local infrastructure, and it certainly supports our local producers.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences is accepting applications through Nov. 15 for AFID infrastructure grants up to $50,000 to support improvements to farming and food-processing operations.
Applications are made by local economic development offices and require matching funds. Grant funding is reserved for projects that serve commercial kitchens, farmers markets, new and existing food hubs and value-added facilities such as dairy, meat and produce packaging and processing facilities.
Interested localities are encouraged to email a draft application to Stephen Versen, manager of VDACS’ office of agriculture and forestry development.
Program guidelines, applications and other program documents may be