Water and Land Use in Virginia State Government News Releases for Jan. 30—Feb. 12, 2015: Specialty Crops Grants, Ag. Trade Conference in March, Land Conservation in Fed. Budget, USDA Grants for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, New Natural Area Preserve in Brunswick County, and Speckled Trout Harvest-quota Update

Following are titles and short excerpts from Virginia state government news releases for January 30 to February 12, 2015 (as of 4 p.m. on Feb. 12) that relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses that may affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title, or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE – https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/

Governor McAuliffe Announces $565,000 in USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants Available for Virginia Agricultural Interests; Request for Applications Now Open, Deadline for Submittal is April 2, 2015, 2/12/15. Excerpt: [T]he Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is accepting applications for federal grants benefitting specialty crops. The Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant is offered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agricultural associations, industry groups, community-based organizations, and producer groups that seek to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in Virginia are eligible to submit proposals for grants up to $60,000 per project.  VDACS anticipates administering nearly $565,000 in funds for the development of specialty crop projects.  The deadline for returning applications is April 2, 2015.”

Governor McAuliffe to Co-Host 7th Annual Conference on Agricultural Trade March 9-10 in Richmond, 2/6/15. Excerpt: “The two-day conference, entitled ‘Facilitating New Opportunities in the Global Marketplace,’ is co-hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA).  The event will bring together producers, agribusinesses, entrepreneurs, exporters, foreign ambassadors, embassy ministers, land-grant university leadership, state and federal government officials, and others to discuss challenges and opportunities for global exports.  A moderated panel discussion and private meetings regarding the international trade of agricultural goods will be held as well.”

Governor McAuliffe Applauds Land Conservation Funding in President’s Budget, 2/4/15. Excerpt: “…President Obama [included] up to $37.8 million in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget to fund land conservation projects within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In his budget the President proposes as much as $32 million for Virginia projects, including the multi-state Captain John Smith Trail. … The President’s proposal drew heavily from the multi-jurisdictional “Rivers of the Chesapeake” proposal that was supported by a partnership of states, federal agencies, Indian tribes and nonprofit organizations.  In the proposed budget, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service will conserve key lands along the Chesapeake’s great rivers that stretch into Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.”

DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES – http://vdacs.virginia.gov/news/press.shtml

USDA Announces Funding for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects, 2/10/15 [U.S. Department of Agriculture news release]. Excerpt: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. … The resources announced today are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. … USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested. Details on how to apply are on page 78029 of the December 29, 2014, Federal Register or are available by contacting state Rural Development offices.

Just How Big is Agriculture in Virginia? – Really Big, 1/30/15. [This links to “Old Dominion Agriculture by Numbers,” a post on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Blog by Herman Ellison, the Virginia State Statistician for the National Agricultural Statistics Service.] Excerpt: “[The] 2012 Census of Agriculture counted more than 46,000 farms, which cover more than 8.3 million acres of farmland in the commonwealth. That’s nearly a third of our entire state! In fact, according to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agriculture is our state’s largest industry. In the most recent census, Virginia farmers reported selling more than $3.7 billion worth of agricultural products.”

DEPT. OF CONSERVATION AND RECREATION – http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/pr_relz.shtml#prarch

Virginia designates 62nd natural area preserve, 2/2/15. Excerpt: A privately owned property containing a granite outcrop has become Virginia’s 62nd natural area preserve. Located in Brunswick County, the 11-acre tract has been protected with an open-space easement and dedicated as a natural area preserve. It is designated as Dundas Granite Flatrock Natural Area Preserve. Rare-species habitat and exemplary natural communities are protected permanently through the Virginia Natural Area Preserve System. The statewide system now contains 55,371 acres. … [The site] was studied by Natural Heritage Program scientists with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The granite flatrock and shallow soils around it support a Southern Piedmont hardpan forest and two rare plants — Small’s purslane and granite-loving sedge. The conservation status of these resources is rare on global and state scales.”

MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION – http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/whatsnew.shtm

Speckled Trout Harvest-quota Update, 2/12/15. “The Commission would like to remind commercial harvesters and buyers that 80 percent of the 51,104 pound commercial landings quota for speckled trout has been taken for the season that began on September 1, 2014 and will extend through August 31, 2015. It is unlawful, for any commercial fisherman registration licensee, to take, harvest, land or possess a daily bycatch limit of more than 100 pounds of speckled trout. That daily bycatch landing limit of speckled trout shall consist of at least an equal amount of other fish species.”

NO RELEASES DURING THIS PERIOD

Dept. of Environmental Qualityhttp://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/NewsReleases.aspx

Dept. of Forestryhttp://www.dof.virginia.gov/press/index.htm

Dept. of Game And Inland Fisherieshttp://www.dgif.virginia.gov/news/

Dept. of Healthhttp://www.vdh.virginia.gov/news/PressReleases/2015/index.htm (no water-related releases)

Dept. of Mines, Minerals And Energyhttp://www.dmme.virginia.gov/DMME/Newsroom.shtml

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