Virginia farm products part of nation’s record-setting ag exports

economic-forecast-headerU.S. agricultural exports, including those from Virginia, are at an all-time high. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that agricultural exports for 2014 totaled $152.5 billion, topping last year’s record $141 billion.

“American farmers and ranchers have once again achieved another year of record exports,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Agricultural exports have climbed 41 percent in value over the past five years. U.S. agricultural exports have increased in volume as well as in monetary value, which demonstrates an increasing global appetite for high-quality, American-grown products.”

Virginia agricultural products have followed the same trend.

In March, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that the state’s farm and forestry exports reached an all-time high of $2.85 billion in 2013, up from the previous record of $2.61 billion in 2012.

“Continuing to increase Virginia’s agricultural and forestry exports and making Virginia the East Coast capital for these exports are top economic development and job creation priorities for my administration,” McAuliffe said.

Agriculture and forestry contribute $70 billion to Virginia’s economy, “so shipping agricultural and forestry products into the global marketplace is critical to maintaining our economy,” said Andrew Smith, senior assistant director of governmental relations for theVirginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Our farmers see the value in exporting their products, and we work with them as often as we can to help them find trade opportunities.”

Agricultural exports from Virginia have grown in value by 27 percent since 2010, when the state launched a strategic plan to grow those exports.

A similar effort has been made nationally. Vilsack said the USDA’s Made in Rural America initiative “will continue to focus on investments in rural businesses, manufacturing, energy, water and other infrastructure development. Collectively, these efforts help to expand export opportunities for what is grown and made in rural America, create jobs and foster growth that strengthens our nation’s economy.”

Virginia has trade representatives in key markets to help facilitate the purchase of Virginia ag and forestry products. State trade offices are operating in Canada, Latin America, Europe, India, Russia, china and Hong Kong.

The top three export markets for Virginia are China, Canada and Switzerland. Virginia’s top ag and forestry exports include soybeans, soy meal and soybean oil; lumber and logs; unmanufactured leaf tobacco; wheat, corn, barley and other grains; animal feed; pork; poultry; seafood; processed foods and beverages, including wine; wood pellets; animal fats and oils; raw peanuts; and cotton.