Virginia Ag Exports Reach All-time High

Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that agricultural exports from Virginia reached a new all-time high of $2.61 billion in 2012, shattering the previous record set last year by almost 12 percent. The Governor’s announcement came during his keynote remarks at the fifth annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond. The conference runs through Friday.

The Commonwealth previously reached a record level of agricultural exports in 2011, when more than $2.35 billion in products were shipped into the global marketplace from Virginia ports. The 2011 figure was a six percent increase from 2010. Agricultural exports, which also include forestry products, have grown in value by approximately 17 percent since 2010. The growth in agricultural exports comes despite a continued slow economic recovery worldwide.

Virginia’s strong position in the global marketplace is enhanced by a number of factors, including: quality producers, agribusinesses, and exporters; an excellent sea, air, and land port system; and a diversified portfolio of export markets and products. Top export products in 2012 included: soybeans; soybean meal; lumber, logs, and wood products; unmanufactured leaf tobacco; soybean oil; wheat, corn, barley and other grains; pork; animal feed; processed foods and beverages, including wine; animal fats and oils; wood pellets; cotton, seafood, and raw peanuts.

Virginia’s top three export markets in 2012 were the same as 2011, albeit in different order. China, by far, is Virginia’s top agricultural export customer with exports totaling more than $638 million in 2012, up from $304 million and the second spot in 2011. Agricultural exports to China, largely driven by soybean and grain shipments, have increased by almost 230 percent since 2010 when $194 million of goods were shipped there from Virginia. Canada holds the second spot with exports totaling more $205 million in 2012. Morocco, after being Virginia’s top agricultural export destination in 2011, is now third with approximately $139 million in goods purchased.

Virginia’s other top export markets, along with values shipped rounded to the nearest million dollars, include: Switzerland, $122 million; Turkey, $94 million; Saudi Arabia, $90 million; Indonesia, $82 million; Vietnam, $82 million, Venezuela, $67 million; Cuba $66 million; Mexico, $61 million; Japan, $53 million; Egypt, $52 million; Ireland, $49 million; Taiwan, $43 million; Russia, $42 million; Malaysia, $41 million; Hong Kong, $39 million; Chile, $38 million; Poland, $37 million; Italy, $37 million; Tunisia, $35 million; Jamaica, $34 million; Georgia, $32 million; Germany, $31 million; and India, $28 million.

Some key points from this year’s Virginia agricultural export study:

• The export commodity showing the largest percentage growth was wood pellets, which saw a more than 800 percent increase from 2011 to 2012. Exports grew from almost $4 million to approximately $35 million, largely driven on new sales to the European Union.

• The export value of soybeans more than doubled between 2011 and 2012, from $327 million to $734 million. A significant portion of this growth is attributable to the McDonnell administration’s efforts to find new customers in the global marketplace.

• The Commonwealth saw key growth in areas where the Governor’s agricultural export initiative focuses resources and attention: China, India, Mexico and other Latin American countries, and several countries in Europe.

• Virginia’s agricultural exports to China increased by more than 100 percent from 2011 to 2012. In fact, approximately 15 percent of Virginia’s agricultural export trade in 2012 was with China.

• Exports to India grew from $5 million in 2011 to $28 million in 2012. Most of the growth was associated with new sales of soybean oil and lumber, logs, and wood products.

• Exports to Mexico grew by more than $20 million, with new business in poultry and pork.

• Exports to Cuba reached an all-time high of $66 million. Virginia is now the second largest U.S. agricultural exporter to Cuba.

• Peanut exports grew from about $6.5 million to approximately $17 million, largely based on new trade into the European Union.

Agriculture and forestry are Virginia’s largest industries, with a combined economic impact of $79 billion annually: $55 billion from agriculture and $24 billion from forestry. The industries also provide approximately 500,000 jobs in the Commonwealth according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

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