Virginia Farm Business Development Grants available

The long awaited Virginia Farm Business Development (VFBD) Program is now accepting applications, announced Halifax County Agricultural Marketing Director Kimley Blanks.

This program is granting awards for up to $5,000 per grantee and covers business plans, feasibility studies, marketing plans, branding and more.

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.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry and a critical part of the new Virginia economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “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 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.

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“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,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden. “A resilient Virginia agriculture is better all around – for the farmer, our economy and, ultimately, the consumers.”

The Virginia Farm Business Development Program will award 30 grants of up to $5,000 each fiscal year. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Grants will be awarded quarterly until all available grant funds are committed.

Blanks said, “This program is an excellent opportunity for smaller agribusinesses to get assistance and a boost in marketing their products through developing a marketing plan, designing a website or branding of their products. I hope producers in Halifax County take advantage of this program. Please contact me at 434-476-3300 ext. 3331 for assistance,” Blanks said.

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