Governor Glenn Youngkin signed HB1563 and SB 1240 into law, underscoring Virginia’s ongoing commitment to Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). These legislative actions, taken at Virginia Tech’s Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Raphine, VA, broaden the agricultural sales tax exemption to encompass items used for producing agricultural goods for market within a CEA commercial facility.
Following the signing, Governor Youngkin announced the forthcoming “Great Indoors” Virginia symposium, set for September 25 and 26. The event will focus on addressing global food security through innovative practices.
“Targeted investments and support for advanced training in cutting-edge agricultural technology are vital in making Virginia the number one destination in the nation for controlled environment agriculture,” stated Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Innovation is critical to creating a resilient food system that prevents a rapidly growing world population from suffering food insecurity while responding to consumer demand for healthier, more sustainable food options.”
CEA facilities can obtain sales tax exemptions for some, but not all, purchases they make. The new agricultural technology tax exemption legislation, sponsored by Senator Mark D. Obenshain of Senate District 26 and Delegate Hyland F. “Buddy” Fowler, Jr. of House District 65, expands the exemption to include tangible personal property items used in constructing a CEA facility.
The upcoming “Great Indoors” symposium plans to gather top innovators to discuss CEA’s role in confronting global food safety and security issues. In addition, the conference will gather senior leadership from the public and private sectors to strategize on how to scale new technologies to tackle food insecurities while also addressing challenges commonly encountered in outdoor farming, such as extreme weather, labor costs and availability, soil erosion, water availability, and growing resistance to pesticides among pests.
“Virginia is quickly becoming the destination of choice for CEA operations to locate and expand due to the state’s strategic access to domestic consumer markets, plentiful and competitively priced resources, skilled workforce pipeline, and the availability of public and private partnerships,” noted Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr. “The Governor’s budget amendments seek to capitalize on these advantages and solidify Virginia’s position as the best state for CEA business in the nation.”
Governor Youngkin’s 2023 budget amendments will allocate an additional $1,250,000 in FY2023 and FY2024 for agricultural technology grants or loans. These funds will further the industry, aid in developing agricultural products, and enhance infrastructure growth, productivity, or efficiency. Moreover, from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) program, $1,000,000 is set to fund agricultural technology research projects over the biennium in FY2024.