Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is making it clear: Virginia is for CEA. On May 16, Youngkin signed House Bill 1563 and Senate Bill 1240, expanding the Commonwealth’s agricultural sales tax exemption to include items used to produce agricultural products for market in a CEA (controlled environment agriculture) commercial facility — including tangible personal property items that are used in construction of a CEA facility. Previously, CEA facilities could receive sales tax exemptions for some, but not all, of their purchases.
“Targeted investments and support for advanced training in cutting-edge agricultural technology training is vital in making Virginia the number one destination in the nation for controlled environment agriculture,” said 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.
‘Great Indoors’ symposium set for September
Following the signing at Virginia Tech’s Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Raphine, Virginia, Youngkin announced the “Great Indoors” Virginia symposium to address global food security through innovation is slated for September 25 and 26th.
The symposium will bring together leading innovators and senior leadership from across the public and private sectors to explore CEA’s role in helping address global food safety and security concerns, as well as how to scale new technologies to address food insecurities. The agenda also targets discussion on how to address challenges faced in outdoor farming, including extreme weather, labor costs and availability, soil erosion, water availability, and increased pest pressure and pesticide resistance.
Strategic CEA destination of choice
Along with Virginia growers such as Better Future Farms co-founders CEO David Drescher and COO John McMahon, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Matthew Lohr, was on hand for the signing at Virginia Tech’s Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
“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,” said Secretary 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.”