Governor announces grant to Montague Farms

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In four years, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he is committed to taking Virginia's agriculture exports from No. 4 on the east coast to No 1. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

In four years, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he is committed to taking Virginia’s agriculture exports from No. 4 on the east coast to No 1. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

WINDSOR—Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday afternoon that Montague Farms Inc. has received an Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development grant of $14,100 – which was matched by Isle of Wight County – to expand its business even further overseas.

The family-owned company, which is based in Center Cross, produces and exports specialty soybeans for markets in Japan and now to South Korea.

Standing before the public gathering, McAuliffe said he wants to grow and diversify the Virginia economy and do it in a bipartisan way.

“Virginia is the nation’s best place to do business in 2013, with $2.85 billion in exports, an eight percent increase from 2012. This year we’re going to go to $3 billion.

“This is the first agriculture grant of my administration,” which McAuliffe said will assist the farm. The company has invested over $600,000 for a high-tech packaging system, a testing laboratory and warehouse.

In addition to creating three more jobs, Montague Farms will buy more than 4,000 metric tons of Natto beans from Virginia soybean producers over the next few years. More than $7 million could be earne,d mostly by Isle of Wight farmers.

“We in Richmond are your partners,” said the governor. “Virginia is the 14th largest exporter in the United States, and fourth on the East Coast. In four years, I want us to go from fourth to first place. That’s my commitment.”

Present for the ceremony were William “Bill” Taliaferro, president of Montague Farms, and his son, Tom, operations manager, along with Todd Haymore, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry.

“Your presence makes a huge statement about what we’re doing,” said Bill to the governor and secretary.

He then told the story of his grandfather whose business philosophy was to “sell what the market wants and go home and make it happen.”

“Brian [Taliaferro] and his staff “made it happen,” said Bill about how his brothers, Brian and David, helped bring the project to fruition.

Tom said the expansion is “a significant capital investment.” He mentioned the robotic arm that does the seven paper bags per minute packaging even has a name: “Bob,” which his daughters decided on.

“We’re in agriculture, which is legitimized gambling,” Tom joked, but quickly added that he’s really confident about the company’s growth.

“We have top-notch partners,” Tom said, and also credited Rachel Chieppa, Rural Economic Development manager for the county, and Dr. Joseph Chu, director of marketing for Montague, for their hard work.

In his remarks, Haymore said he “wishes more counties would do more. You’re hard-pressed to find a family more committed to agriculture as the Taliaferros.”

McAuliffe again stressed his commitment to agriculture.

“We’re going to take it to the next level,” he said.

Prefacing the governor’s presentation, Supervisor Delores “Dee Dee” Darden said, “We have a very diverse agribusiness in Isle of Wight. We can grow anything we set our minds to,” she said. “We’re rich in good soils and good farmers.”

Darden said she couldn’t let the opportunity go by without asking the governor to support the Route 460 project, and how Isle of Wight is in a strategic spot to attract businesses.

The governor said he does support 460, but until all the permits are secured, “you don’t want me to waste valuable taxpayers’ money.”