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PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Haymore Announces Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Initiatives for 2011

Secretary Haymore Announces Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Initiatives for 2011

(excerpts) To read the full release, click here: http://www.ag-forestry.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=547

In the upcoming session, the Governor will propose legislation to preserve working farm and forest lands that will coincide with his goal to preserve 400,000 acres of open space. Legislation will also be introduced in accordance with a recommendation from the Governor’s Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission to create a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries. In addition, family farms and the environment will be aided by two new positions in the Agriculture Stewardship Act program to help them meet water quality requirements in the Chesapeake Bay region and throughout the state while maintaining commercial viability. This is part of the fulfillment of Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) that was recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Also in 2010, Virginia’s wine industry continued to thrive and gain recognition both domestically and internationally. The General Assembly agreed to more than double the amount of funds placed into the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for research, education and marketing programs. First Lady Maureen McDonnell joined Secretary Haymore to play an active role in heightening the profile of Virginia wine by leading trips across the state to wineries and promoting the product in both the United States and abroad. Virginia also landed two top wine industry gatherings in 2010 when both the Wineries Unlimited Trade Show & Conference and the Wine Bloggers Conference announced that they would hold their respective annual events in Virginia during 2011. These efforts and attention resulted in a 13% increase in sales of Virginia wine during last fiscal year over the previous fiscal year. Sales of Virginia wines in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 are up 8% over the same time period of fiscal year 2010.

Initiatives to Support Agriculture and Forestry in 2011

  • $400,000 – Preserves working farm and forest lands by providing meaningful funding of Virginia’s successful Purchase of Development Rights program. This will raise the program’s total appropriation to $500,000 per annum.
  • $280,000 (approx.) – Fulfills the intent of 2010 legislation requiring the full portion of the wine liter tax derived from the sale of Virginia wine be directed to the Wine Promotion Fund.
  • $250,000 – Establishes a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries as part of the Governor’s Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission recommendations. Specifically, this budget amendment and legislation provides for a reimbursable tax credit capped at $250,000 annually for the expansion or installation of a winery or vineyard. The tax credit is to be applied against an individual’s income tax for 25 percent of the cost of such expansion or installation.
  • $185,962 – Provides two new positions in the Agriculture Stewardship Act program. In fulfillment of Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan, these two positions – one located in the Shenandoah Valley, another stationed in Richmond who will focus on state’s Northern Neck, Tidewater, and Eastern Shore regions – will help family farms meet water quality requirements in the Bay region and throughout the state while maintaining commercial viability.

2010 Successes

  • Significantly raised the profile of Virginia wine both internationally and domestically.
  • Worked with the General Assembly to more than double ($580,000 to $1.3 million) the amount of funds placed in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for research, education, and marketing programs
  • Worked with the First Lady McDonnell and her FLITE initiative and team to bring more attention to Virginia wineries and to encourage more restaurants and retailers to sell Virginia wines.
  • Worked with City of Richmond, Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), and wine industry to recruit the annual Wineries Unlimited Trade Show & Conference to Richmond in 2011; it had been held in Pennsylvania for more than 30 years.
  • Worked with the City of Charlottesville, VTC, and wine industry to successfully recruit the Wine Bloggers Conference to Charlottesville in 2011.
  • New reports show that the sales of Virginia wines were up almost 13 percent in the FY10
  • Overall sales of Virginia wine are up more than 8 percent in the first quarter of FY11; distributor sales are up almost 9 percent during same time percent after being stagnant over the previous three fiscal years.
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