Tuesday, March 27, 2012

State-Empowered Bee Keepers??

Recently Lewis Ginter Botantical Garden re-posted an article from NBC 12 regarding tax credits being offered to support the purchase of new bee hives. As backyard farmers, this caught our attention immediately as we have been considering bees for quite some time. Already raising chickens, growing organic vegetables, fruits and nuts, the addition of bees would be a great value to our little farm.

The article stated that "the Virginia State Senate and House have passed bills to create grants or tax credits to encourage you to become a beekeeper. $200 per hive for a maximum of $2,400. State spending or tax credits for beehives would be capped at $100,000" .Not willing to take anything for granted, I started my own path of research to confirm that the tax credits were indeed valid. After many calls to the State Tax Department which turned into dead ends, a call to The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services finally cleared up the details.

Unfortunately, at this point legislation has not been approved for the tax credit. The good news, however, is that the Governor is looking to put a grant program in place to offer the same incentives. Currently the program under consideration would offer $200 toward the purchase of a new bee hive set up with a maximum of $2400 total per bee keeper. The budget being built would cap at $100,000 per year in granted funds. The gentleman I spoke with at VDACS was quite knowledgeable and suggested that this program should be officially announced some time in July of 2012 and a registration of beekeepers will be available (and required) at the VDACS Apiary Inspection page.

The grant program would initiate in January 2013, should it pass, and last through 2015.

For beginning bee keepers this is a great incentive to get started, and for those that already own a hive or two, a great way to expand. Just knowing that the program is potentially available is the push we need to get the first hive underway. Hopefully the next 7-8 months of bee keeping will give us enough experience to feel confident to expand our bees with the use the State allocated grant funds.

Check back with us this summer for updates on Bee Keeping 101 as well as any updates on the grant opportunities being offered.

Happy Backyard Farming!!

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