Loudoun begins initiative to help agricultural businesses

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Loudoun County has begun a year-long initiative to help landowners in developing or expanding agricultural businesses in the western part of the county.

The Department of Economic Development will offer services designed to help agricultural business owners find information, resources and a strategy for achieving their goals.

“Encouraging landowners to use their land for agricultural production benefits everyone,” Kellie Boles, Loudoun’s agricultural development officer said in a statement. “It will increase the number of agricultural businesses, which helps grow the rural economy. Rural businesses contribute more than $69 million to the Loudoun economy per year, diversifying the county’s revenue base.”

The county defines agricultural production as including use of the land to grow crops or raise livestock, as well as making products such as wine, wool or cheese.

The county will begin contacting landowners after Memorial Day, starting with emails that officials have on file. Beginning in July, the county will mail postcards to landowners, zip code by zip code. The county’s goal is to reach all landowners in rural Loudoun by the end of fiscal year 2015.

“Building the county’s agricultural economy offers a key cost-avoidance opportunity,” Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer said in a statement. “Farms require less infrastructure — fewer roads, schools and utilities — than residential communities. A thriving agribusiness sector actually saves the county money in the long run.”

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