Virginia’s and nation’s largest industry will be celebrated March 15-21

newspaperAgriculture, the United States’ and Virginia’s largest industry, will be celebrated March 15-21, National Agriculture Week. March 18 has been designated National Agriculture Day.

The National Ag Day program encourages Americans to understand how food and fiber are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products; and value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.

In Virginia, some county Farm Bureaus will mark the occasion by donating nonperishable food items and other supplies and making monetary donations to regional food banks, local food pantries and Ronald McDonald Houses.

Virginia’s fifth annual Agriculture Literacy Week will run concurrently with Ag Week. County Farm Bureau volunteers and other members of the state’s agricultural community will mark the week by reading agriculture-related books to preschool and elementary school students in their communities.

“We’re proud to undertake these activities in our communities,” said Wayne F. Pryor, president of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and a Goochland County beef and grain producer. “We want people to understand the role farmers play in providing safe and affordable food and other products—both domestically and abroad. It’s a tremendous responsibility and one that we take very seriously. This is our life’s work, and it’s a constantly challenging and satisfying career.”

The 2012 Census of Agriculture found more than 46,000 farms in Virginia and 8.3 million acres of farmland. The average farm size is 180 acres.

The commonwealth’s top 20 agricultural commodities in terms of 2012 cash receipts are broiler chickens ($649 million); cattle and calves ($434 million); milk ($358 million); turkeys ($324 million); soybeans ($302 million); greenhouse and nursery products ($272 million); corn for grain ($212 million); hay ($123 million); winter wheat ($109 million); tobacco ($109 million); eggs ($91 million); cotton lint ($69 million); fresh tomatoes ($62 million); hogs ($55 million); apples ($54 million); peanuts ($24 million), summer potatoes ($15 million); cottonseed ($12 million); barley ($12 million); and grapes ($11 million).

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