RD11 - The Impact of Agency 229: Leveraging Agency 229 for Greater Economic Growth

Executive Summary:

Agency 229 provides funding to Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station (VAES). Agency 229 impacts are vast and diverse and touch every sector of Virginia’s economy. Innovative and applied research, education and training, and direct assistance to Virginians have led to nationwide recognition of Virginia as a producer of superior agricultural products, better business management practices, and environmental stewardship that improves quality of life and attracts millions of tourists annually. Ultimately, Agency 229 activity creates jobs and new investments through higher returns and profits for producers; technological innovation and new product launches for industry; billions in international exports; and talented, healthy citizens who contribute to a vibrant workforce.

Agency 229 was charged with developing a strategy to leverage state investment with industry partnerships that “result in technological and scientific advancements needed to grow the state’s agricultural and natural resource economy." The Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development (OED) was therefore commissioned to conduct a study of current impacts of VAES and VCE on the economy and to gather recommendations from industry on how funding could be leveraged to drive more innovation and advancement. OED spoke with over 200 stakeholders from private industry, local and state government; VCE agents, specialists, volunteers, and clients; VAES researchers; and many of the agricultural councils and commodity groups that fund and benefit from Agency 229 research and Extension.

This report represents a snapshot of findings with a focus on five key agriculture and forestry industries and four communities. The five industries chosen include: beef cattle; poultry and hogs in vertically integrated production systems (VIMP); food and beverage manufacturing; forestry/wood products/ timber; and row crops. These industries each represent a large share of the Virginia agricultural economy and are supported by Agency 229 in different ways. Pittsylvania County, Prince William County, Washington County and the City of Virginia Beach were selected as representations of urban and rural populations in four Virginia regions.