How our organization was formed.

Cooperative Extension facilitated meetings of various agriculture and natural resource-related groups began meeting in mid-2005 including:

  • Farm Bureau
  • Bedford Agriculture Council
  • Bedford Citizens for Land Preservation
  • Cooperative Extension
  • USDA Agencies
  • Others involved in the agriculture community

The purpose was to discuss areas of common interest. Namely, concerns over the future of
agriculture – profitability, loss of farmland, etc.

It was determined a combined committee would be more effective and visible. Loosely
arranged coalition – “agriculture development committee.”

The committee agreed to review and make comments on the draft comprehensive plan
which was/is under major revision. Focus on how the plan addresses agriculture issues.
The committee continued meeting from late 2005 – into early 2006 trying to determine their focus.

In March 2006, the Director of Economic Development and a Board of Supervisors
member got involved to see what the county government could do and what the agriculture
community wanted local government to do.

The committee determined that the focus of this effort should be on economic
development. It is not enough to just preserve land – farming needs to be profitable to be sustainable.

The committee reached the consensus that staff dedicated to this effort was needed. There
are other pre-existing government departments that can help (Extension, Economic
Development, Tourism) but they have their areas of expertise and responsibility. It was determined that this effort needs to be consolidated and championed by a single entity. Furthermore, volunteers (those in the agriculture community) were willing to help, but can only do so much.

The committee made plans, through consultation with the County Administrator, to make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors regarding this issue. This occurred in May 2006 – focused on the state of agriculture in Bedford, economic impact, assets, and challenges, suggested components of an agriculture development program, and the need for dedicated staff to carry out this plan.

The Board of Supervisors asked the committee to draft a more detailed plan and come
back to the Board for consideration. This was accomplished and brought to the Board of Supervisors in June 2006. The Board adopted the “Bedford County Agriculture Development Program” at that time.

July – November 2006:

As the next steps, two roundtable meetings were held for the agribusiness community. This was led by the Economic Development office and fashioned after the roundtable
meetings they do for other sectors such as manufacturing, etc. The purpose was to
explain the efforts underway, further assess their needs, and ask for input on how to

The discussion led to a decision that it would be helpful to have a panel of localities that
have programs in place to present their programs at a meeting held on Nov. 2, 2006. The localities invited were Augusta County, Halifax County, and Lancaster County, PA.

Also at this meeting, a survey was distributed to assist in program direction and to what
extent various strategies would be helpful.

In late Nov 2006, County Administration made a proposal to the Board of Supervisors to
do the following:

  • Adopt resolution re-affirming support of the Land Use Tax program
  • Create a board-appointed agriculture economic development advisory board
  • Consider adding staff to implement the plan based on input from the board