- Economic Development continues to be a top priority for this administration with the goal of building a new Virginia Economy. Our office is supporting this initiative by overseeing the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).The AFID Fund was created during the 2012 session of the General Assembly and is being embraced by the McAuliffe Administration as an important tool in growing the Commonwealth’s agriculture and forestry sector and helping to make Virginia the leading exporter of agricultural and forest products on the East Coast. More information about the AFID grant, which has the flexibility to assist projects large and small throughout Virginia, can be found at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/afid.shtml.
Leadership and Stakeholder Development
- Leadership is necessary to support, conduct, and maintain the many projects and initiatives related to agricultural and forestry industries around the Commonwealth as we recognize that issues facing our industry today are increasingly complex. The Secretariat works to support community-based leadership by growing the presence of agricultural development officers and boards, showcase the work of industry leaders, and support a pipeline of future leaders through student organizations and leadership development programs. In turn, we leverage future success toward education, technology, health, business, trade, and innovation.
Technology and Innovation
- Technological advancement is extremely rapid. Growth and application for agricultural and forestry industry sectors are particularly robust. With direct impacts on production practice, product development, business development, and education and career development to address complex tech –based problems and solutions, the Secretariat works to encourage and showcase innovation and advancement around agricultural technology.
- Virginia agricultural exports, which also include forestry products, continue to be sought and valued by global markets. Virginia's agricultural exports are competitive in the global marketplace because of the high quality and diversity of products available for export and the Commonwealth’s excellent sea, air, and land port system. Governor McAuliffe’s strategic plan in agriculture and forestry for continuing to grow Virginia’s economy includes helping existing agribusinesses expand operations, recruiting new agribusinesses to Virginia, expanding international markets for Virginia products, and making strategic investments in rural infrastructure that support job growth in these areas. With more than thirty percent of gross farm income linked to exports, access to vibrant international markets is important to Virginia’s future economic prosperity as we position ourselves to be the largest exporter on the East Coast.
Craft Beverage Industry
- Virginia is building its reputation as the top destination for craft beverages on the East Coast. Virginia’s craft beverage industry contributes over a two billion dollar economic impact to the Commonwealth each year. Around the state, wineries, breweries, distilleries, cideries, and meaderies are increasing their local connection by sourcing Virginia-grown agriculture products to create a unique terroir, or taste of place. With more than 280 wineries, 190 breweries, and 40 distilleries – Virginia is fully leveraging our natural resources and long history in agriculture to create value-added products in a high-growth industry.