Plans to expand the facilities at the Agriculture Marketing Center in Scottsburg took another step Monday evening when Halifax County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution authorizing and accepting grant funding of $98,986 from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Grant Program for expansion of the agriculture marketing center.
The Halifax County Agriculture Marketing Center is located at 1001 Farm Way Lane in Scottsburg.
ED-1 supervisor Ricky Short made the motion to sign the resolution, which was seconded by ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon, and unanimously approved by the board.
County administrator Scott Simpson explained that the grant is in the final stages of approval.
Per information provided by Rebakah Slabach, agriculture extension agent for Halifax County, “The county has completed several administrative tasks to be positioned to receive the funds. The county was successful with our application submitted to the tobacco commission just last week for an amount of $45,000 to assist with this project. One of the final tasks for the USDA-RBDG grant is the board of supervisors adoption of a resolution authorizing receipt of the funds and completion of the final tasks.”
The county was awarded a $45,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission when it met electronically on Thursday, May 27.
In speaking on pursuing grants for the ag center, Slabach said, “Pursuing state and federal grant opportunities has been a process in the making behind the scenes for over a year now. A project like this takes wide support from the livestock organizations to industry contacts to government leaders. Agricultural producers are small business owners and expanding the AMC is an investment in the local economy. Livestock sales will be able to grow and see new marketing opportunities now.”
The idea is to be able to have space to accommodate larger livestock sales that will support two regional agricultural producer membership associations that will utilize the center for livestock related events and sales activities.
Two new shed structures off of existing structure and acquisition of holding pens and corrals for management livestock are in the plans. At least 24 new producers will use the facility, with each expected to realize a premium of $125 a head for beef producers and $20 a head for goat producers, according to the county’s grant application to the tobacco commission.
The ag center currently supports the Southside Marketing Group and the Southern Virginia Meat Goat Association. Their combined membership include 96 producers from seven counties in Southern Virginia. It also supports the Halifax County Cattleman’s Association.
The closet livestock market is approximately 60 to 85 miles away, as stated in the grant application, and this ag center would be an average of 25 miles away from association members.
“The upgrades and improvements are necessary to retain and support growth opportunities for these producers,” county staff wrote in its grant application.
With the expansion, the ag center can involve more farms, which represent valuable small businesses, with livestock sales opportunities. In turn these livestock sale opportunities will provide jobs for the community and tax income for the economy, according to Slabach.
ED-2 supervisor Jeff Francisco explained that additional corral pens were needed to support the quantity of cows and sheep that come to the agriculture center.
“The current facility is not large enough to hold the cows… This allows us to expand and have all the cattle under one roof and the goats and sheeps’ sales separately,” said Francisco.
“I believe this project will end up being 100% grant funding, which is awesome. Agriculture is the largest industry in the county. There’s so many things people don’t realize from vineyards moving in to farmers growing garlic,” said Francisco.
According to Slabach, animal production ranked 6th among top exporting industries in Halifax. For every $1 spent on animal production in Halifax, she said an additional $1.23 is generated in household income.
In other action Monday evening by the board of supervisors, they also unanimously approved a conditional user permit for Halifax CSG, LLC to install a 4.15 megawatt solar facility on the east side of R. O. Harrell Trucking Company. Supervisors also put a condition on the permit that says they are not allowed to burn materials.
Zoning administrator Detrick Easley explained there is a total of 42 acres in the two parcels with only 21 acres of the back portion of the land planned for use by the solar facility.
The applicant plans to dedicate the front of the 9.68 acres as “real property to Halifax County” for future development, and would also mean that the solar facility would be visible from the road, according to Easley.
Prior to approving the permit, supervisors also determined that the solar facility is in accordance with the Halifax County Comprehensive Plan.
Also approved was a secondary six-year plan that allocates $193,464 to add White Lane, Talley Loop and Wild Turkey Run to the list of roads to be paved following a public hearing in which no one spoke.
Supervisors also signed a resolution declaring Jenny’s Ruff Trail to be a Rural Rustic road so that ConEdison Development, who has a solar project in Nathalie, could pave the road. They have agreed to pay to pave the road.
Also approved was two recommendations by the solid waste committee, one to approve and execute a task order for Crutchfield and Associates to perform the survey, plat and title review of a proposed site for a new convenience center in Scottsburg. The other approved recommendation was to authorize the county to purchase a new skid steer loader at a cost up to $50,000.
Supervisors also signed a resolution authorizing and directing the Halifax County General Registrar to request a waiver from the state board of elections pursuant to section 24.2-307 of the Code of Virginia to administer certain precincts as split precincts for the 2021 election.
County administrator Scott Simpson explained that this does not change any voter boundaries. The governing body was to establish precinct boundaries this year, but due to delay of the 2020 census, supervisors have not adopted district boundaries. Therefore, he said, they must apply for a waiver.