During Governor McAuliffe’s term, the number of craft breweries in Virginia has grown more than 130 percent and the number of distilleries expanded by more than 141 percent. In FY 2015, hard cider production exploded by a tremendous 200 percent. With more than 275 wineries, the Commonwealth ranks fifth in the nation in wine and wine grape production.
The AFID Fund has allowed Virginia to partner with local governments to attract new and expanding agriculture and forestry businesses to the Commonwealth. To date, the AFID Fund has assisted 26 localities with 34 projects to promote agricultural and forestry development in Virginia.
Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries contribute a combined $70 billion annually to Virginia’s economy and generate more than 400,000 jobs throughout the Commonwealth. Whether it is beer, wine, equine, aquaculture, timber or livestock – Virginia’s agricultural and forestry products are enjoyed locally, used throughout the country and exported around the world.
The Secretariat of Agriculture and Forestry is the voice of two of Virginia’s largest industries. According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, agriculture and forestry have a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually. Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry induces over $17 billion. The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.
The Secretariat oversees and provides policy guidance to three agencies – the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF), and the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC).
The Secretariat also provides leadership of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID), which is administered by VDACS, as well as the Governor’s agricultural export initiative, which seeks to increase exports of Virginia’s agricultural and forest product exports into the global marketplace and make the Commonwealth the East Coast capital of agricultural exports.
Together with the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry represents the Commonwealth with regard to activities involving the Chesapeake Bay Program and its efforts to improve water quality. The secretariat also works with producers to assist them in implementing best management practices that will improve water quality and maintain farm production.
In addition to agencies, the Secretariat provides general oversight of the Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Agricultural Council, and the Virginia Marine Products Board.