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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 334,000 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, 3rd; apples, 6th; grapes, 8th; peanuts, 9th; fresh market tomatoes, 10th. Livestock rankings based on number of head include turkeys, 6th in the nation, and broilers, 10th.

Source: USDA’s 2017 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS)

Virginia Agriculture in the Global Marketplace

In 2018 agricultural and forestry exports were valued at $2.97 billion, up from $2.63 billion in 2017. By volume, they accounted for more than half of containerized exports moving through the Port of Virginia.

Virginia’s top three export markets in 2018 were Canada, China and Switzerland. Canada imported more than $342 million in agricultural purchases, while China totaled more than $235 million and Switzerland imported more than $209 million in 2018.

These countries and many others purchase a variety of Virginia agricultural commodities, wood products, seafood and specialty food and beverage items. Virginia products 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, China, Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Source: Global Trade Information Services Inc.

Virginia Farm Facts

  • Virginia has 43,225 farms.
  • The typical Virginia farmer is 58.5 years old.
  • The average farm size is 181 acres.
  • Farms cover 7.8 million acres.
  • Approximately 36 percent of Virginia’s primary farm operators are female.
  • Less than 15 cents of every consumer dollar spent on food actually goes to the farmer

Source: 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, 2016 survey data from NASS and the Economic Research Service (ERS)

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