FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 01/04/2022
Contact: Kathlyn Terry Baker
Chief Executive Officer
Duffield, VA, 01/04/2022 – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been awarded a total of $216,454 in three grants from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. ASD will use the funds to: (1) create a Point-of harvest education program for wild harvesters of native botanicals; (2) build a regional aggregation and distribution network in support of VA specialty crop producers; and (3) make food safety certification and compliance attainable for Virginia farmers facing market and regulatory changes. This strategic, multi-pronged effort aims to better prepare local and regional farmers to enter lucrative retail markets and mitigate supply chain issues in the herbal products and produce industries.
The herbal market has increased for the 15th consecutive year, by more than 8.6% in 2019, according to the American Botanical Council’s market report. In 2019, the report shows specialty crops like black cohosh, goldenseal, and American ginseng ranked as the 15th, 17th and 30th top-selling herbal supplements in the U.S., respectively. As demand grows, discerning consumers and companies are becoming acutely aware of the sustainability concerns surrounding the forest botanical trade and the implications it has on the long-term survival of the value-chain. To address these concerns, ASD will deliver Point-of-Harvest education.
1. Point-of-Harvest (PoH) Continuing Education Program for Wild Harvesters — $73,974
Appalachian Sustainable Development and Virginia Tech will increase the competitiveness, sustainability, and profitability of forest botanicals, by developing and educating a workforce of Point-of-Harvest certified harvesters who have access to price-premium markets. The program will be implemented in coal-impacted and forest-dependent communities of Virginia, then refined and replicated throughout Appalachia. Funding for ASD’s Point-of-Harvest (PoH) Continuing Education Program for Wild Harvesters project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 2021-520. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
As consumer demand for specialty crops continues to grow and price pressures from food safety certification, distribution costs, packaging and labor continue to erode specialty crop farmers’ profit margins, it is vital that ASD maximize efficiencies in aggregation and distribution to reduce costs for farmers and provide greater access to diversified markets.
2. Regional aggregation/distribution network to support VA specialty crops producers — $70,480
Appalachian Sustainable Development will enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems through the development of aggregation sites and
distribution routes so that buyers along distribution routes are able to purchase more local and regional produce. The specialty crop farmers who will be supported through this grant include experienced fruit and vegetable farmers and new and beginning farmers and ranchers; socially disadvantaged farmers; and farmers selling into markets of various sizes such as wholesale, direct sales and farmers markets. Funding for ASD’s Regional aggregation/distribution network to support VA specialty crops producers project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 2021B-566. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
Because countless market opportunities hinge on producers having food safety certification, (required by most large wholesale buyers), and as buyer requirements continue to evolve toward the USDA equivalent of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) model, ASD’s role is critical in preparing local and regional farmers.
3. Food safety certification/compliance for VA farmers facing market/regulatory changes — $72,000
Appalachian Sustainable Development and its partners will ensure that economically disadvantaged, new and beginning farmers can access lucrative wholesale and retail markets by assisting them in obtaining appropriate food safety certification(s) and by interpreting, explaining and assisting with the implementation of individualized food and safety plan of action manuals and technical support. ASD will also train farmers to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Funding for ASD’s Food safety certification/compliance for VA farmers facing market/regulatory changes project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 2021B-571. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Living Better. Locally. It’s what drives ASD’s commitment to propel its mission to build a thriving regional food and agriculture system that creates healthy communities, respects the planet, and cultivates profitable opportunities for Appalachians. Since 1995, ASD has been working in Central Appalachia, providing hope, and making a difference for the people who call the region home. What began as opportunities for struggling tobacco farmers to grow fruits and vegetables have become lasting solutions to regional challenges that impact economic development, workforce development, food access, health, and wellness. Over the years, ASD has expanded its reach from northeast TN and southwest VA to include partners in WV, OH and KY, enabling the organization to bring resources back to the region. For more information, visit: https://asdevelop.org.
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