By Sally Voth
Shenandoah County's new planner is excited about the possibility of state funding to help with local agriculture and forestry efforts.
Gov. Bob McDonnell this week announced there are grants totaling $250,000 available to boost local industries related to farming or forestry.
"The flexible new grant program encourages localities to think strategically about how to plan for agriculture and forestry businesses that can help their community and their region prosper," a news release from the governor states.
Patrick Felling took the Shenandoah County planning job in late summer, and is interested in the grant opportunity.
"The opportunity to put together a plan with a number of partners in the county is very attractive," he said. "There's a number [of] great partners in the county that we can work with, people that have been promoting for agriculture in different ways. We would want to sit down with them, talk about the best way to pursue this."
Potential partners include the Farm Bureau, Cooperative Extension, the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District and Shenandoah Forum, Felling said.
"Residents of Shenandoah County have made it clear that retaining their agricultural and rural values in the community [is] important, and we want to pursue that in ways that accomplish the priorities of the county and [of] the residents in the county," he said.
McDonnell's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund was created by the General Assembly earlier this year, according to the release. The $1 million fund funnels $750,000 to big grants that would enlarge current agriculture and forestry processing facilities, or bring in new ones, the release states, with the remainder going as small grants to help grow localities' agribusinesses.
Localities can apply for a maximum $20,000 in matching funds in individual grants, or for up to $35,000 for multi-jurisdictional ones, according to the release. They can be used for strategic planning, creating new policies and zoning ordinances, studies and the like, according to it.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org