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Lunenburg receives 35K grant

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday, June 28, that Brunswick, Lee, Lunenburg and Rockingham counties will each receive grants from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture initiatives.

“We are pleased to see localities continue to use AFID Planning Grants to further embed agriculture into their current recovery efforts and long-term economic development plans,” Northam said. “Identifying and supporting local initiatives like these that strengthen and diversify Virginia’s agricultural economy is critical to positioning this vital industry for success in the years to come.”

Brunswick and Lunenburg Counties submitted a joint application for $35,000 in AFID funds to help develop architectural and engineering plans for a proposed large-scale produce processing facility.

The facility will be operated by Southside Virginia Vegetable Packing, LLC (SVVP) and provide infrastructure that allows the region’s former tobacco producers to transition to vegetable production. Organic and conventional vegetable crops offer former tobacco farmers a stable and growing market opportunity that leverages existing farmland, labor and production equipment to maintain and expand their operations. SVVP has seen tremendous growth through its existing fruit and vegetable production, aggregation and distribution, leading to the need for a larger produce processing facility to meet increasing demand.

The AFID Planning Grant award will leverage an additional $90,000 in local funds.

“Embracing innovation and exploring new opportunities in agriculture is key to the growth and prosperity of rural communities,” Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring said. “Congratulations to Lee County, Rockingham County and Brunswick and Lunenburg counties for recognizing the importance of our local agriculture industries and supporting local farmers and producers by creating and expanding new markets to maintain and grow their farms.”