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March 17, 2014

Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

Every Virginian should know two basic facts about our industry of agriculture. First, it touches the lives of every person every day – some might say three times a day – and second, it is Virginia’s largest industry by far, contributing $52 billion to the state’s economy each year.

Of course there’s a lot more to know. Agriculture contributes to our health and well-being and provides green spaces, recreation, tourism, flood mitigation, improved water quality, soil stabilization and wildlife habitat. Agricultural exports add a very positive note to the state’s economy. In 2013 Virginia set a record with $2.85 billion in exports to countries that include China, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Venezuela, Taiwan, United Kingdom and many, many more.

Yet many consumers don’t know the basics about agriculture. Today the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced its participation in a statewide program to better educate consumers, especially children, on the essential role that agriculture plays in their daily lives. Governor Terence R. McAuliffe believes this is so important that he has declared March 23 – 29, 2014 as Virginia Agriculture Week and Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week and has called the observance to the attention of all citizens.

Throughout that week, VDACS employees and local Farm Bureau members will read to children in schools from Stephens City to Wytheville, Harrisonburg to Hanover. Everyone will read the same book, What’s in the Garden?, to pre-schoolers through second graders. The book asks and solves a riddle about a variety of agricultural products, gives simple recipes using those products and includes instructional sections on the parts of a plant and basic cooking terms.

Click here for information on Ag Week and here for more information on Ag Literacy Week. Teachers, parents and students will find a variety of resources and activities here. Schools that are interested in hosting a reader should contact Elaine Lidholm.

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