Agriculture Facts & Figures
Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry. The industry has an economic impact of $82.3 billion annually, provided more than 381,800 jobs in the Commonwealth, and $43.8 billion in value-added impact. The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of over $105 billion and provide more than 490,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.6 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy.
According to a 2021 economic impact study, livestock production accounted for approximately 63 percent of farm cash receipts, with poultry, beef, and dairy constituting the largest products. Crops make up the difference with grains, such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, being the most significant field crops. Virginia’s food, beverage, and fiber processors and manufacturers buy many of their agricultural commodity inputs from Virginia farmers. These industries have grown by approximately 1,100 jobs (two percent) over the last five years. When the employment and value-added impact of agriculture and forestry are considered together, they make up 9.3 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: 2021 The Economic Impact of Virginia's Agriculture and Forest Industries, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia
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. In 2021, Virginia ranked third nationally for the production of tobacco, fourth in seafood landings, sixth for apples, pumpkins and turkeys measured in head, eighth for peanuts, and ninth for broilers measured in head and pounds.
Source: USDA’s 2021 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS)
In 2022, Virginia’s agricultural and forestry exports were valued at more than $5.1 billion dollars. The 2022 export total eclipses the previous record set in 2021 by 25%, which totaled more than $4 billion.
Virginia’s top five export markets in 2022 were China, Canada, Venezuela, Taiwan, and Egypt. China imported more than $1.45 billion in agricultural purchases, while Canada totaled more than $370 million and Venezuela imported more than $296 million in 2021.
Virginia’s top agricultural and forestry exports in 2022 were soybeans at over $2.3 billion, animal products at over $960 million, tobacco at $215 million, wood products earned more than $509 million, and beer exports totaled over $145 million. One of the largest increases of 2022 were wood pellets which increased 1,379% versus the yearly average. This was likely driven by increased demand in Europe and Asia. All categories related to soybeans showed increases and tobacco exports remained strong with most exports going to Asia.
The VDACS Office of International Marketing assists Virginia’s agricultural, food and forest product producers assess market potential, understand international regulations, identify buyers and learn about product-specific export programs and marketing events. In addition, the office promotes Virginia agricultural commodities, wood products, seafood and specialty food and beverage items through a global network of trade representatives.
Source: Global Trade Information Services Inc.
Source: 2021 USDA Census of Agriculture, 2016 survey data from NASS and the Economic Research Service (ERS)
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