This news release is from the previous Governor's administration.
For Immediate Release: November 9, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, 804-225-4260, | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Elaine Lidholm, (804) 786-7686,

Governor McAuliffe Announces Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Planning Grant for Virginia Oyster Trail

~Communities in Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore Benefit~


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the award of a $35,000 planning grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to the Virginia Oyster Trail project by the Northern Neck Planning District Commission (PDC) and partner communities throughout the Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore.  The AFID planning grant program encourages local governments to promote agriculture and forestry and incorporate the needs of these industries into their strategic economic development plans. 

“Identifying and supporting initiatives that strengthen agriculture while promoting tourism build on these crucial sectors of our economy, and pave the way for future innovative collaborations,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “Programs like the Virginia Oyster Trail will continue to diversify the economy in these regions and attract visitors and jobs to these communities. Supporting Virginia’s diverse agricultural sectors is a key part of my plan to build the new Virginia economy.” 

“I applaud the Northern Neck Planning District Commission and their partners in Accomack, Gloucester, Lancaster, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties for their strong commitment to Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries – which include oyster aquaculture – and we are pleased to give them the tools to help support those industries,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore.  “The Virginia Oyster Trail program will continue to promote and foster agritourism in the area, and will further increase rural economic and regional development.  Agriculture and tourism are Virginia’s top private sector industries and both are playing key roles in the Governor’s plan to build a new Virginia economy.” 

The AFID planning grant program, developed in 2012, encourages local and regional governments to enhance their strategies for supporting and integrating agriculture and forestry-based industries into their communities’ job creation and economic development efforts.  The planning grants are part of the Governor’s AFID program, an economic development tool meant to help localities locate new or expanding agriculture and forestry value-added or processing projects.  AFID economic development grants are available for political subdivisions of the Commonwealth who have expressed interest in growing or developing their agriculture and forestry industries by strategically targeting or integrating practices that add value to Virginia-grown agriculture and forestall products. 

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) administers the AFID program and planning grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  Successful funding requests must demonstrate a clear need, a proposed solution, strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community, and the ability to provide cash or in-kind matching funds.   Localities interested in applying may visit or contact AFID Fund Coordinator Stephen Versen at or 804.786.6911 for more information. 

Details on the grant award is below:


Project Title:

Building Communities in Coastal Localities:  Creating a Virginia Oyster Trail



Northern Neck Planning District Commission (PDC) – lead applicant; Accomack, Gloucester, Lancaster, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties – co-applicants






On August 19, 2014, Governor McAuliffe announced the creation of the Virginia Oyster Trail, a major tourism and community development project to connect travelers to Virginia oyster producers, purveyors, and related agricultural and tourism assets throughout the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  This project implements a Virginia Oyster Trail development plan created over the past year by a wide variety of state and community stakeholders.  Major deliverables include an interactive website connecting the participating communities, seafood producers, and trail participants, development and distribution of promotional materials and signage, and bringing on regional staff to assist in trail development.