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Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry by far. The industry has an economic impact of $70 billion annually and provides nearly 334,000 jobs in the commonwealth. The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 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.
The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the commonwealth.
In addition, value-added industries 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 commonwealth’s total gross domestic product. In addition to 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.
*Misc. Crops includes Greenhouse/Nursery, roughly 90 percent of the total, plus mushrooms, sunflowers, rye, sorghum, seed crops and other field crops.
+All Other Animals includes horses, aquaculture and all other livestock.
Source: 2017 USDA NASS and ERS data figures rounded to the nearest million dollars.
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; fresh market tomatoes, apples, grapes and Christmas trees*, all rank 7th; and peanuts, 8th. Livestock rankings based on number of head include turkeys, 6th in the nation, and broilers, 10th. The exceptional diversity of Virginia agriculture is reflected in this chart showing the distribution of farm cash receipts for the state’s many and varied commodities.
*Christmas tree figures come from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. These figures are only collected in the Census of Agriculture which is conducted every five years.
Source: 2014 NASS and ERS data.
Agricultural and forestry exports reached $3.19 billion in 2015, solidifying the Commonwealth’s status as the second largest agricultural exporter on the East Coast. Virginia’s top three export markets in 2015 were China, Canada and Switzerland, all filling the same positions they have held since 2013. China imported more than $694 million in agricultural purchases, while Canada totaled more than $291 million and Switzerland imported approximately $204 million in 2015.
Agricultural and forestry exports reached $3.19 billion in 2015, solidifying the Commonwealth’s status as the second largest agricultural exporter on the East Coast.
These countries and many others are purchasing 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, Central America, China, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Southeast Asia and the Middle East/Northern Africa.
Source: Global Trade Information Services, Inc.