Virginia is a key farm export state, with trade offices in eight locations around the world. The newest one opened last fall in Canada, which imported $205 million in Virginia farm products in 2012 and is Virginia’s second-largest export market behind China.
“There are a lot of opportunities to move product very, very quickly from Virginia into Canada,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry. “canada has always been one of our top export customers.” Haymore pointed out that a recent government study showed for every $1 in agricultural and forestry products exported from the state, there was a $1.40 return back to the state. “So $200 million-plus going to canada means a lot of return back to Virginia.”
Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to the United States, said his country “wants to take advantage of that close proximity, for having more products sold both from our country to (Virginia), and from (Virginia) to canada. We think we have very fruitful opportunities, and we’ve had a great experience in the past.”
And when it comes to world agricultural exports, Virginia farmers are on a roll. Ag exports from the Old Dominion hit an all-time high in 2012, at more than $2.61 billion. Virginia’s top-selling farm exports include soybeans, poultry, wheat, pork, lumber and wood products, raw peanuts, unmanufactured leaf tobacco and wine.
“Gov. McAuliffe said in his State of the Commonwealth address that he wants Virginia to be the East Coast capital for agriculture and forestry exports. That’s a tall task. We’ve got some good competition on the East Coast, but we’re going to continue to do what we can to grow Virginia’s status in the global marketplace,” Haymore said.
Farm exports continue to dominate America’s trade balance with the world. More than $21 billion of agriculture and food products are exported to canada by the United States, and the economic ties grow stronger every year.
“The real challenge for all of us is to make sure that we not only have the ability to grow the commodities but also to process and add value to those products,” Doer said. “When you look at food … a safe food supply is something we both enjoy. So I don’t see this just in terms of traditional commodities, but I see this (trade) as also part of the knowledge economy, the value-added economy between Virginia and Canada.”