RICHMOND -- The Virginia Farmers Market Board will ask the state to spend more than $15 million over the next two years to build farmers markets across Virginia.
"We've got to start getting Virginia products on Virginia tables and this is one way to do it," said Rob Mays, a board member from Virginia Beach.
Board members voted Thursday to ask the 1988 General Assembly to fund the entire market package instead of starting with wholesale facilities and phasing in the market system over several years as originally planned.
The package includes a $3.4 million shipping point market in Accomac County on the Eastern Shore and a $3 million retail and wholesale farmers market in Hanover County.
"By including the retail facilities as well as the wholesale and shipping point markets, we'll be helping the Virginia consumer as well as the Virginia farmer," Mays said.
"I think we ought to go ahead and ask for the whole works," said Champ Clarke, a board member and southwester Virginia cattleman.
Gov. Gerald L. Baliles has supported the farmers market concept, particularly the wholesale and shipping point markets that would help Virginia farmers get better prices for their produce, Agriculture Commissioner S. Mason Carbaugh said.
Carbaugh would not predict whether Baliles will include the $15 million market plan in his 1988-89 budget.
Baliles appointed the 12-member market board about 15 months ago to come up with a plan to improve state markets for farm products. The board hired a consulting firm to make recommendations.
Those findings, released last month, identified Accomac County as the best location for a shipping-point market where produce would be collected, graded, packed and shipped to retail facilities along the East Coast.
The largest proposed market would be the $3 million Hanover County market.
A $1.3 million farmers market in Chesapeake would primarily be a retail market for the Hampton Roads metropolitan area with limited shipping facilities for area farmers.
Other proposed market areas are Carroll County, Halifax, Williamsburg, Lynchburg, Marion County, and Northern Virginia.