RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 27, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is providing $4 million in funding for 16 projects to create new and better markets for Virginia growers and rural entrepreneurs and strengthen the nation’s food supply chains in the process.
Investments made through the Value Added Producer Grants Program (VAPG) will help a broad range of Virginia agricultural operations expand their markets and develop/package new products for farmers market, online and direct farm sales. The associated economic opportunities will spur competition, resulting in more affordable prices for consumers.
“Virginia has consistently ranked among the top states for numbers of awards and total VAPG funding provided over the past 20-plus years and today’s announcement offers further evidence of that commitment to creating more opportunities and revenue for farmers and rural entrepreneurs,” said Perry Hickman, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director.
In fiscal year 2023, Virginia Rural Development (RD) awarded $250,000 VAPG grants to eight vineyards, two breweries/distilleries, two vegetable operations, three meat and seafood businesses and one goat farm. The full list is provided below with a short description of the activities to be undertaken with RD and matching funds.
- Briedé Family Vineyards in Winchester will elevate processing and marketing of small batch, one-of-a-kind wines. The project is expected to create one job and bring additional revenue to the business through additional sales in the tasting room.
- Paradise Springs Winery in Fairfax will increase direct-to-consumer retail sales at the family-owned and operated historic farm, which borders the Bull Run River.
- Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville will ramp up marketing activities and processing capacity at the 30-year-old winery nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- King Family Vineyards in Crozet will use the working capital for operational and labor expenses to grow its Crosé product line.
- Keswick Winery near Charlottesville will leverage the working capital to expand its offerings and attract new customers to the family owned and operated vineyard, which specializes in lots of small high-quality Virginia wines and offers amenities like a family-friendly tasting room, mini-golf course, dog park and live music.
- Crosskeys Vineyards in Mount Crawford will fund marketing initiatives to increase overall sales of its award-winning wines and boost revenue by adding more than 200 wine club members during the grant period.
- Cave Ridge Vineyards in Mount Jackson will ramp up marketing and direct-to-consumer sales of its sustainably produced wines.
- The Winery at Kindred Pointe in Mount Jackson will fund marketing initiatives to increase overall sales of its award-winning products and hire additional employees to support continued growth as a brand and event venue with panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley.
- Old House Vineyards in Culpeper will boost beer processing capacity and fund marketing initiatives to make it a regional brand. The licensed winery, distillery and brewery bills itself as "Virginia's first trifecta," successfully producing and selling all three products in one location.
- Mor-Industries in Crystal Hill will use the working capital to cover supplies, labor, marketing and operational expenses to scale up production of hemp-infused spirits sold in alcohol package stores under the "Tusk" brand.
Vegetable and Dairy Producers
- Shenandoah Seasonal in Clear Brook will use the funds to help offset costs for year-round sustainable vegetable production in high tunnels and on raised beds. The project will not only provide working capital for washing, packing, and selling the locally grown produce but also enable Shenandoah Seasonal to serve more than 2,000 new customers throughout the grant period.
- Schwarzgold C&E Group in Kenbridge is finalizing required documents to obtain working capital to expand production capacity and markets for high-quality garlic grown for sale to consumers and restaurants.
- Bates Family Farm in Cedar Bluff will increase processing capacity and marketing of specialty spa and household items produced on site in Southwest Virginia. The additional funding will help the veteran-owned business ramp up manufacturing of goat milk-based skincare lines to meet a growing local demand and introduce the products to a new audience.
Meat and Seafood Operations
- Purcell's Seafood in Reedville will leverage this working capital to help expand the customer base for its shucked oysters. The family-owned business has been operating on the Little Wicomico River for more than 40 years and provides whole and shucked varieties to high-end retail stores.
- Ballard Fish & Oyster Company in Cheriton will use the funds as working capital to support processing improvements and other initiatives to grow markets for local clams and oysters and ramp up capacity to provide fresh seafood to a growing list of customers. The previous VAPG recipient operates in one of the state’s most impoverished counties and will also leverage matching funds to purchase supplies for the business.
- Farmhouse Butchery in Pittsylvania will use the working capital to expand operations at the family-owned business, which specializes in processing farm-raised beef for sale to local consumers and restaurants.
Today’s funding builds on prior investments made by USDA under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to increase competition, enhance independent meat and poultry and other diversified food processing capacity, strengthen local and regional food systems and expand domestic, innovative fertilizer production.
The Virginia awards are part of a total USDA investment in 185 projects worth nearly $196 million to create new and better market opportunities for producers and entrepreneurs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.
USDA Rural Development provides loans, loan guarantees and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, community facilities, and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. More information is available at www.rd.usda.gov.
Visit www.usda.gov to learn more about how USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production using climate-smart food and forestry practices. These efforts also include an emphasis on fairer markets for all producers; more accessible, safe, healthy and nutritious food; and new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers.