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Agriculture Facts & Figures

Virginia Agriculture Facts & Figures

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry by far, with nothing else coming a close second. The industry has an economic impact of $52 billion annually and provides nearly 311,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of $70 billion and provide nearly 415,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.6 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy.

According to a 2013 economic impact study, production agriculture employs nearly 55,000 farmers and workers in Virginia and generates approximately $3.3 billion in total output. In addition, value-added industries, those that depend on farm commodities, employ more than 67,000 workers. When the employment and value-added impact of agriculture and forestry are considered together, they make up 8.1 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product.

In addition to its tangible benefits such as farm cash receipts and jobs, agriculture provides many intangible benefits. These include recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, flood mitigation, improved water quality and soil stabilization.

Source: The Economic Impacts of Agriculture and Forest Industries in Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia, 2013

Diversity of Virginia Agriculture

Virginia’s agricultural production is one of the most diverse in the nation. Many Virginia commodities and products rank in the top 15 among all U.S. states. These include leaf tobacco, 3rd; fresh market tomatoes, 5th; apples, 6th; grapes and peanuts, 8th; and cotton, 15th. Livestock rankings based on number of head include turkeys, 6th in the nation and broilers, 10th.

Source: 2013 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

Virginia Agriculture in the Global Marketplace

In 2014, Virginia set yet another record for agriculture and forestry exports with a total value of $3.35 billion. This figure represents a 14 percent increase over the 2013 record of $2.9 billion (adjusted).

The top three export markets for Virginia in 2014 were China, Canada and Switzerland, all filling the same spots they held in 2013. China imported more than $691 million in agricultural purchases, while Canada totaled just over $279 million and Switzerland took in approximately $174 million in 2014. China and Canada’s imports increased by 10 and 7 percent, respectively, over 2013 levels.

These countries and many others are purchasing a variety of Virginia agricultural commodities, wood products, seafood, and specialty food and beverage items. These items and others are promoted in the international marketplace by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Richmond and from a global network of trade offices and representatives in Hong Kong, China, India, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom.

Source: Global Trade Information Services, Inc

Virginia Farm Facts

  • Virginia has nearly 46,000 farms.
  • The typical Virginia farmer is 59.5 years old. Thirty-six percent of farmers are 65 years of age or older.
  • The average farm size is 179 acres.
  • Farms cover 8.2 million acres, or 32 percent of Virginia’s total land area of 25.3 million acres.
  • Approximately 17 percent of Virginia’s primary farm operators are female.
  • Total cash receipts from Virginia agriculture products in 2013 were $3.74 billion.
  • Nearly 90 percent of Virginia farms are owned and operated by individuals or families.
  • In the 1960s, one farmer supplied food for 25.8 persons in the U.S. and abroad. Today, one farmer supplies food for 155 people in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Less than 16¢ of every consumer dollar spent on food actually goes to the farmer

Source: 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, 2013 and 2014 survey data from NASS and ERS

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