Virginia farm exports up in 2011

Virginia agricultural exports are up 5 percent from 2010, and that figure could increase even more before the end of the year, said Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry.

Virginia shipped $2.24 billion worth of agriculture and forestry products in 2010, the state’s second-highest amount ever, Haymore told participants at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation 2011 Annual Convention Nov. 30 in Norfolk.

“That’s great news, but there are trade barriers we continue to battle,” Haymore said, citing China’s ongoing ban on poultry shipped from Virginia and a ban on logs shipped from Virginia that was enacted earlier this year. He also noted restrictions in Cuba and exports to India that are limited due to high tariffs.

Fortunately, Haymore said, Gov. Bob McDonnell is committed to increasing Virginia’s agricultural and forestry exports. “He appreciates and supports agriculture, and his mindset is to buy local and sell global.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services already has an office in Hong Kong and recently opened trade offices in Shanghai and New Delhi. “By having boots on the ground, we can make progress,” Haymore said.

Recent trade missionsto China, Europe, India and Israel already are paying off for Virginia farmers.

Perdue Agribusiness ships soybeans to the Dandong port in northeast China. “Every time a boat launches, at least $20 million worth of soybeans is being shipped to China,” Haymore said. “This is a great opportunity for soybean growers in the state.”

He told Farm Bureau members that he will continue working to increase agricultural exports by retaining a market presence with established trade partners and pursuing growth opportunities in emerging markets.

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