Governor McDonnell Promotes Virginia's Seafood Industry, Tours Vineyard in Visit to Eastern Shore
– Participates in Groundbreaking for New Robert S. Bloxom Eastern Shore Agricultural Complex in Melfa; Highlights Wine Industry at Chatham Vineyards and Winery in Machipongo –
--Melfa Complex Named After Former Virginia Delegate and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Robert S. Bloxom--
MELFA- Governor Bob McDonnell visited the Eastern Shore today to participate in the groundbreaking for a new Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) regional office and seafood packing facility in Melfa. Later he took a tour of the Chatham Vineyards and Winery in Machipongo. The Governor was joined on the trip by First Lady Maureen McDonnell; Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore; and Matt Lohr, newly appointed Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Speaking about the groundbreaking for the Robert S. Bloxom Eastern Shore Agricultural Complex in Melfa, the Governor noted, "Virginia's seafood industry is one of the oldest industries in the United States and one of the Commonwealth's most economically important. We are the nation's fourth largest producer of marine products, trailing only Alaska, Louisiana and Washington. The annual economic impact of the industry is over half a billion dollars a year, and there are approximately 11,000 full and part-time jobs in Virginia connected to the seafood industry. It is a vital part of the Virginia economy of today and tomorrow. And it is with a focus on tomorrow that we are breaking ground on this new facility –it will meet the needs of our seafood industry well into the 21st century. It will also encourage the further development of one of Virginia's greatest natural resources, our fisheries, as well as the expansion of statewide, regional, domestic, and international markets for these great products."
Commenting on the visit to the Chatham Vineyards and Winery, McDonnell remarked, "Wineries and vineyards across the Commonwealth, both large and small, contribute significantly to Virginia's economy, providing jobs and financial benefits. With the help of bipartisan legislation passed this session that supports the Commonwealth's wine and grape promotional and research efforts, the Virginia wine industry, including Chatham Vineyards and Winery, will be able to grow and attract more visitors from all over the world. That is a win-win for Virginia."
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd Haymore, added, "The Eastern Shore is one of the most important agricultural regions of the Commonwealth. "From seafood to vegetables to poultry to grains to wine grapes, the Eastern Shore is responsible for producing some of the highest quality and most in demand products in the nation and around the world. The Robert S. Bloxom Eastern Shore Agricultural Complex and workers manning this new facility will help ensure that the growers, producers, and watermen on the Eastern Shore will have the resources that they need to continue producing these top quality products."
To enhance the economic opportunities for the citizens of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the Commonwealth is establishing a centralized, modern facility for freezing and storing fresh seafood products at the site of the Eastern Shore Farmers' Market. Today's system allows fishermen to unload product directly at the dock for sale to wholesale and retail outlets represented there. With blast freezing and freezer storage, fishermen can spread out the catch instead of flooding the market, and they can add value to the product, thus commanding a higher price. In addition, a new office facility for VDACS will be built to consolidate agency marketing and consumer protection services into one location. Office space for the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District will also be provided in the new office building.
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