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March 8, 2016
Celebrate Virginia Agriculture Week March 13-19
Five Important Facts about Virginia Agriculture and Five Ways Everyone Can Get Involved
Contact: Elaine Lidholm, 804.786.7686

Agriculture is a hot career right now, one of the best for recent college graduates and other job-seekers. Well-paid positions in all aspects of agriculture are going unfilled, but the good news is, enrollment in agriculture and related life science professions is up in Virginia and across the nation.

What better time to explore career, volunteer and lifestyle choices with agriculture at the forefront than during Virginia Agriculture Week March 13-19, 2016. Let’s check the facts to see why agriculture is so popular now.

  • Agriculture is the most necessary occupation in the world. Without it, we’d all starve. U.S. agriculture provides one of the world’s safest, most wholesome, most abundant and affordable food supplies. In addition, it provides much more: fiber, clothing, shelter, wildlife habitat, clean water, recreation, flood mitigation, soil stabilization and tourism.
  • Agriculture is the nation’s top export and in Virginia, agricultural exports remain at near record highs. Virginia exported $3.19 billion in ag and forestry products in 2015.
  • American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better – through the use of advanced technologies that allow farmers to produce more with less. Click here for examples.
  • In Virginia, farms cover 8.1 million acres, or almost a third of Virginia’s total land area of 25.3 million acres. The state’s top agricultural products in terms of farm cash receipts in 2014 were: broilers (chickens) - $918 million; cattle/calves - $714 million; milk - $478 million; turkeys - $326 million; greenhouse/nursery - $298 million; soybeans - $259 million; corn for grain - $219 million; all other animals - $216 million; hay - $119 million; and tobacco - $117 million.
  • In the 1960s, one farmer supplied food for 25.8 people in the U.S. and around the world. Today, one farmer supplies food for 155 people in the U.S. and abroad. By 2050 the world will need to feed 9.3 billion people. According to Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, “In the next 40 years, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have grown in the last 10,000 years combined.”

Today only two percent of the population is involved in production agriculture. But possibilities abound for the remaining 98 percent to experience Virginia agriculture first-hand:

  • Meet a Virginia farmer. Virginia has many pick-your-own farms and agritourism venues that welcome visitors. Learn about farming from the farmer him or herself while you enjoy attractions such as pony rides or corn mazes, beautiful scenery, special features such as fly fishing and the freshest farm products.
  • Plant a garden to attract pollinators. Virginia is losing about 30 percent of its beehives every year. One of the most helpful things consumers can do to help sustain Virginia's honey bee population is to plant a pollinator garden with a diversity of nectar and pollen sources, or to become a beekeeper. The Virginia State Beekeepers Association can help by answering questions or mentoring new beekeepers.
  • Connect with agriculture via social media. Connect with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Twitter or Facebook, or search for photographs on Flicker. Go to Ag in the Classroom’s Facebook page for basic agricultural literacy for children.
  • Visit a winery or craft brewery. Touring a winery or a vineyard in the countryside or an urban brewery to taste some of Virginia’s fine wines and craft beers are wonderful ways to spend a springtime day. Virginia has 250 wineries and more than 100 craft breweries scattered throughout the state.
  • As products come in season, serve a meal with local food or pack a local lunch for your children. Ask your grocer or visit to find out where you can buy local products near you. Virginia farmers grow and produce a wide variety of food including fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses and meats for lunches and snacks that are available from farmers’ markets, grocery stores and community supported agriculture farms (CSAs). Find out what’s in season and enjoy.

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