New grant program focuses on COVID-19’s impact on agriculture and forestry
Virginia’s first and third largest industries, agriculture and forestry, are the focus of a new grant program, overseen by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Gov. Northam’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Planning Grant Program aims to support these industries during the pandemic. The biggest issue has been farmers losing market access to sell directly to customers and restaurants.
Local governments that take initiatives to address these unique problems caused by COVID-19 will be offered expedited review and award. The program guidelines have been newly revised and allow for more flexibility in the types of projects allowed. Funding shared refrigerated storage facilities, developing websites to connect growers and customers and offsetting “last mile” product delivery fees are possible initiatives. There are also less tangible possible initiatives such as generating policies or programs for the preservation of working lands. The goal is for local governments to cooperate with the agriculture and forestry community. As these two industries are a large portion of Virginia’s economy, their recovery is vital.
Individual communities can apply for grants of up to $20,000. Alternatively, two or more communities can apply jointly for up to $35,000.
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