VIRGINIA AGRICULTURE - FACTS AND FIGURES
Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry by far, with nothing else coming a close second. The industry has an economic impact of $52 billion annually and provides nearly 311,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of $70 billion and provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.6 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy.
Production agriculture employs nearly 55,000 farmers and workers in Virginia and generates approximately $3.3 billion in total output. In addition, value-added industries, those that depend on farm commodities, employ more than 67,000 workers. When the value-added impact of agriculture and forestry are considered together, they make up 8.1 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product.
In addition to its tangible benefits such as cash receipts and jobs, agriculture provides many intangible benefits. These include recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, flood mitigation, improved water quality and soil stabilization.
- Virginia has more than 46,000 farms.
- The typical Virginia farmer is 59.5 years old. Thirty-six percent of farmers are 65 years of age or older.
- The average farm size is 181 acres.
- Farms cover 8.3 million acres, or 33 percent of Virginia’s total land area of 25.3 million acres.
- Approximately 17 percent of Virginia’s primary farm operators are female.
- The market value of Virginia agriculture products sold in 2012 was $3.75 billion.
- Nearly 90 percent of Virginia farms are owned and operated by individuals or families.
- In the 1960s one farmer supplied food for 25.8 persons in the U.S. and abroad. Today, one farmer supplies food for 155 people in the U.S. and abroad.
- Less than 16¢ of every consumer dollar spent on food actually goes to the farmer.
Source: 2012 USDA census and survey data from NASS and the Economic Research Service
Virginia's Exports & Export Markets
WINE AND GRAPES
In 1979, Virginia had just six wineries and only 286 acres devoted to wine grape production. Twenty-five years later, Virginia boasted 87 wineries and 2,380 acres growing wine grapes. By 2007, this remarkable growth rate translated into more than 130 wineries and almost 3,000 acres of vineyards; and annual production was 5,600 tons of wine grapes and 350,000 cases of wine. In 2007 Virginia ranked 8th nationally in commercial grape production and 8th for bearing acreage. Virginia bearing acreage saw a 14 percent increase from 2,100 acres in 2006 to 2,400 acres in 2007. Those 2,400 acres produced cash receipts of $7,560,000.
The Chardonnay variety comprised 19 percent of Virginia’s total Vinifera production harvest in 2007. Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Vidal Blanc were the top five varieties produced in the Commonwealth in 2007.
Horses are big business in Virginia. According to a 2011 survey, the value of all equines in the state is $1.2 billion. There are 215,000 horses in the Virginia and some 41,000 horse operations.
- Horse owners spend $873 million annually on horse-related expenses—including feed and bedding(the largest area of expense), boarding, training, tack, capital improvements, and labor. These expenses average out to $4,060 per horse.
- The industry generated more than 16,000 jobs in 2010 in Virginia with the greatest effects in the agriculture and ag services sectors, and a lesser effect in the areas of trade and construction. The largest areas of economic impact continue to be in Northern Virginia. More than 1,600 jobs in Fauquier and Loudoun are horse related.
- The horse industry in Virginia generates $65.3 million in state and local taxes. More than 50% of that figure represents state taxes.
- Nearly 1,200 horse shows and events were held in Virginia in 2010-- generating $25 million in revenue. Some 939,000 people attended Virginia horse shows and competitions last year. Out of state participants spent an average of $3,100 per event per “travel party.”
- Horses are the 8th largest agricultural commodity in Virginia according to cash receipts and Virginia ranks 12th in the nation for numbers of horses.
- According to the Census of Ag Statistics, while the number of farms in Virginia decreased between 1997-2007, the number of farms with horses actually increased(from 10,972 to 13,520) during that same period—offsetting a more significant decline in farms.
Statistics are from the March 2011 economic impact study of the Virginia horse industry conducted by Dr. Terance Rephann of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and funded by the Virginia Horse Industry Board. For a full copy of the study (71 pages), go to www.coopercenter.org/econ and click on the link in the news and events section.
Additional figures are from the 2006 U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Ag Statistics Service Virginia Equine Survey(partially funded by the Virginia Horse Industry Board). To download these results, go to www.nass.usda,gov/va. Under Virginia Publications, click on Equine Report to view the results of both the 2006 and the 2001 reports.
In 2003, the last year for which statistics are available, aquaculture sales were $32.5 million. Of this, $26.5 million were for saltwater production and $6 million for freshwater production. Clams were the leading species, with more than $20.3 million in gross sales, a number that is expected to double when figures are in from the 2008 survey. For saltwater sales, clams accounted for 76.5 percent, soft shell crabs 12.7 percent, oysters less than one percent and all other sales at ten percent.
In freshwater production, tilapia accounted for more than 75 percent of sales with trout accounting for 21 percent. Though still a viable industry segment, trout sales are decreasing due to the extended severe drought and recreational sales.
Shellfish aquaculture continues to grow, and saltwater fish species are gaining momentum, as well as other freshwater fish species and freshwater prawns.
In 1997, the Virginia General Assembly created the Century Farm Program that recognizes and honors those Virginia farms that have been in operation for at least 100 consecutive years. Just over ten years after its creation, the Century Farm Program has recognized more than 1,200 Virginia farm families whose diligent and dedicated efforts have maintained these farms, provided nourishment to their fellow citizens and contributed so greatly to the economy of the Commonwealth. A list of Century Farms and an application form is available at www.vdacs.virginia.gov/century
In 2001, the Virginia General Assembly established the Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to help reverse the loss of farmland to development. OFP has five missions: to work with other governmental and private organizations to help establish and support local purchase of development rights (PDR) programs; to create programs to educate the public about the importance of farmland preservation; to help farmers with farmland preservation efforts; to assist local governments in developing additional farmland preservation policies and programs; and to administer the Virginia Farm Link program – www.vafarmlink.org – which brings together aspiring and retiring farmers.
To date, OFP has allocated a total of $4.75 million in state matching funds to 15 local PDR programs. Of the $4.75 million allocated, $1.21 million has been used so far to help protect 1,007 acres of farm and forest land. OFP also has provided almost $25,000 over the last year to Virginia Cooperative Extension to help fund farm transition workshops for farm families and their service providers.