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Agriculture Facts & Figures

Virginia Agriculture Facts & Figures

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry by far, with nothing else coming a close second. The industry has an economic impact of $70 billion annually and provides more than 334,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of over $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.7 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy.

According to a 2017 economic impact study, production agriculture employs nearly 54,000 farmers and workers in Virginia and generates approximately $3.8 billion in total output. In addition, value-added industries, those that depend on farm commodities, employ more than 69,000 workers. When the employment and value-added impact of agriculture and forestry are considered together, they make up 9.5 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 Impact of Virginia's Agriculture and Forest Industries, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia, 2017

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 10 among all U.S. states. These include leaf tobacco, 4th; apples, 7th; grapes and peanuts, 8th; fresh market tomatoes, 10th; and cotton, 14th. Livestock rankings based on number of head include turkeys, 6th in the nation and broilers, 10th.

Source: 2015 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

Virginia Agriculture in the Global Marketplace

In 2016, agriculture and forestry exports were valued at $2.77 billion and, by volume, accounted for more than half of containerized exports moving through the Port of Virginia.

The top three export markets for Virginia in 2016 were China, Canada and Switzerland, all filling the same spots they have held since 2013. China imported more than $691 million in agricultural purchases, while Canada totaled more than $296 million and Switzerland imported more than $191 million in 2016.

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 through its Virginia headquarters and a global network of trade representatives in Canada, Mexico and Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, India, China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Source: Global Trade Information Services Inc.

Virginia Farm Facts

  • Virginia has 44,800 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 181 acres.
  • Farms cover 8.1 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.
  • The market value of Virginia agricultural products sold in 2015 was $3.75 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 people in the U.S. and abroad. Today, one farmer supplies food for 165 people in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Less than 16 cents of every consumer dollar spent on food actually goes to the farmer

Source: 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, 2015 and 2016 survey data from NASS and the Economic Research Service (ERS)

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