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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 Farm Profile
More Facts and Figures

Virginia Agriculture Facts Brochure
Weldon Cooper Economic Impact Study of Agriculture and Forestry, 2013
Virginia's Top 20 Farm Commodities

Virginia's Exports & Export Markets

Economic Impact Summary

In 1979, Virginia had just six wineries and only 286 acres devoted to wine grape production. Today, Virginia is home to more than 250 wineries and ranks fifth in the nation for wine grape production.

A 2012 economic impact study shows that Virginia's wine industry contributes almost three-quarters of a billion dollars—or $747 million—annually to Virginia's economy. (Note that these are not cash receipts; economic impact figures include cash receipts and other economic measures.) Virginia wineries and vineyards support 4,800 jobs that provide $156 million total in wages.

In 2010, approximately 1.6 million people visited Virginia wineries. In 2012, Virginia was named one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in the world for by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

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.  

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 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

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 – – 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.


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