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Press Releases

October 19, 2023
Applications for Blue Catfish Processing, Flash Freezing, and Infrastructure Grant Funding Accepted through November 20
Contact: Michael Wallace

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is currently accepting grant funding applications for projects that will help expand blue catfish fishing and processing in the state. Applications for the Governor's Blue Catfish Processing, Flash Freezing, and Infrastructure Grant Program are being accepted, from Oct. 20 through Nov. 20, 2023.

Introduced several decades ago, the blue catfish is an invasive species that has been documented in all of Virginia’s tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay. They eat shad, herring, striped bass, menhaden, clams and blue crabs and there is concern that large catfish populations pose a detrimental impact on the populations of these species.

“Blue catfish are an invasive species that are apex predators and are destroying some of Virginia’s unique aquatic ecosystems. They also happen to be a highly nutritious and delicious fish. This grant funding incentivizes support for blue catfish processing, flash freezing, and infrastructure projects to make blue catfish a commercially viable enterprise for Virginia watermen and fish processors and add this seafood choice for consumers,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr.

“Agriculture is vitally important to Virginia’s economy, and this new program furthers the industry’s ability to be a growth engine and source of jobs in rural Virginia,” said VDACS Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. “Reducing the population of this invasive species by turning it into a revenue stream for Virginia producers is a win-win.”

The Blue Catfish Processing, Flash Freezing, and Infrastructure Grant Program legislation and funding proposals were patroned by Senator Richard Stuart, District 28, and Delegate Keith Hodges, District 98. The new program awards reimbursable grants up to $250,000 to support infrastructure development projects that directly support local food production, enhance environmental sustainability, and demonstrate a broad community benefit. Grant funds should be used primarily for capital expenditures.

Grant priority will be given to the following project types:

  • Projects that create processing, flash freezing, and infrastructure capacity in proximity to small-scale blue catfish watermen.
  • Processing facilities that are primarily locally owned, including packaging, freezing, and labeling facilities that are used for processing blue catfish.
  • Projects that involve or incorporate existing seafood processors and businesses.
  • Projects located in the localities of the Rural Coastal Virginia Community Enhancement Authority or in Planning District 23.

Additional information and application for this grant opportunity are available at www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agriculture-afid-infrastructure-grants-blue-catfish.shtml. Completed grant funding applications should be emailed by Nov. 20 to Rachel Meyers, Office of Agriculture and Forestry Development, at rachel.meyers@vdacs.virginia.gov or postmarked by Nov. 20 and sent by postal mail to:
Rachel Meyers
Office of Agriculture and Forestry Development
Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
102 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219

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