Halifax County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was awarded $161,778 by the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission for its agribusiness project titled Southern Virginia Pasture Infrastructure Program (SVPIP).

The program is a joint effort between Halifax, Lake Country and Southside SWCDs, Virginia Cooperative Extension and Halifax County Agricultural Development covering Halifax, Amelia, Brunswick, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.

SVPIP utilizes a 25 percent cost-share incentive to encourage producers to establish new pasture and increase the ability of livestock producers to implement rotational grazing, along with converting endophyte-infected tall fescue pastures into novel-endophyte tall fescue or warm season grasses.

The primary goal of the program is to install practices that increase the ability of producers to graze their livestock (cattle, goats, sheep) more efficiently.

The fencing portion of the program is based around increasing the number of grazing acres and the ability to intensively manage livestock for enhanced forage utilization.

The conversion of traditional endophyte infected tall fescue pastures into novel-endophyte tall fescue or warm season grass pastures will further enhance grazing efficiency and livestock productivity.

By implementing these practices, producers will improve utilization of pasture and decrease reliance on supplemental feed, resulting in an increase in net farm income.

By increasing herd efficiency, this project allows producers to capitalize on greater profitability.

In times where cattle markets have been unpredictable, this program plans to educate on and implement practices that have been continuously proven to have high returns on investment.

Along with this, consumer demand for locally raised, grass-finished or pasture raised beef is rising, creating a need for more grazing acreage to finish livestock.

Goat and lamb meat is an emerging market, and price and demand for these products are increasing to meet consumer needs of the east coast metropolitan areas.

Southern Virginia is ideally located 800 miles from 75 percent of the U.S. population, allowing the SWCD to take advantage of these value-added markets.

For additional information about the program or the orientation sessions, producers should contact their local SWCD or VCE office.