Agricultural exports, which also include forestry products, from Virginia reached a new all-time high of more than $3.35 billion in 2014, eclipsing the previous record set in 2013 by more than 14 percent. Virginia also became the second largest agricultural exporter on the East Coast, surpassing North Carolina and gaining ground on Georgia
Speaking about the new level for agricultural and forestry exports, Governor Terry McAuliffe stated, “This record-breaking announcement is a testament to the combined work of so many in the private and public sectors and I applaud those efforts. Making Virginia the East Coast capital for agricultural and forestry exports is central to my administration’s efforts to build a new Virginia economy. By focusing on international trade growth, we generate many new revenue streams and job creation opportunities in Virginia, from our farms to our ports. My administration is committed to expanding the marketplace for Virginia products and I expect to see new export records set in 2015.”
The Commonwealth previously reached a record level of agricultural exports in 2013, when just over $2.9 billion (revised) in agricultural products were shipped from Virginia ports into the global marketplace. This is fourth consecutive year that Virginia has set new record levels for agricultural exports. Further, agricultural exports have grown in value by 49 percent since 2010 when the Commonwealth launched a strategic plan to grow agricultural and forestry exports. Virginia’s agricultural exports are competitive in the global marketplace because of the high-quality and diversity of products available, a global trade representative infrastructure, and the Commonwealth’s world-class sea, air, and land port system. The growth in agricultural exports comes despite a continued slow economic recovery worldwide.
“Virginia’s strategic investments to expand our presence in the global marketplace and grow exports are yielding exceptional returns for the Commonwealth,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “Significant new export increases to major countries like China, Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom, where Virginia has dedicated trade representatives, show how the Commonwealth is playing a significant role in bringing buyer and seller together. I look forward to expanding our global network to facilitate more opportunities and enhance the Governor’s efforts to build a New Virginia Economy. With approximately 30 percent of gross farm income linked to exports and more than 80 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, access to vibrant international markets is important to Virginia’s overall economic prosperity.”
The top three export markets for Virginia in 2014 were China, Canada, and Switzerland, all filling the same spots they held in 2013. China imported more than $691 million in agricultural purchases, while Canada totaled just over $279 million and Switzerland took in approximately $174 million in 2014. China and Canada’s imports increased by 10 and 7 percent, respectively, over 2013 levels, while Switzerland’s decreased by 11 percent. Virginia has trade representatives in China and Canada.
The remainder of Virginia’s top ten export markets, along with the values shipped rounded to the nearest million dollars, include: Mexico, $150 million; Russia, $124 million; Japan, $114 million; United Kingdom, $110 million; Venezuela, $103 million; Morocco, $98 million; and Indonesia, $94 million. All countries saw double or triple percentage increases in value verses 2013, except Russia, which remained static, and Indonesia, which declined by 18 percent. Virginia has trade representation covering Mexico, Russia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
The top agricultural and forestry product exports from Virginia in 2014 include: soybeans, soybean meal and soy oil, lumber and logs, pork, unmanufactured leaf tobacco; poultry, processed foods and beverages, including wine; corn; wheat; animal feed; wood pellets; seafood and other marine products; raw peanuts; cotton; and animal fats and oils.
This year’s record amount of agricultural exports shipped from Virginia was driven once again by high quality products, strong international demand, and aggressive market development work conducted by the Commonwealth. Similar to 2013, the gain in exports in 2014 came despite a continued drop in value of U.S. commodity crops. Favorable growing conditions and record yields contributed to lower crop prices in 2014. For example, soybean prices dropped 28% last year from 2013 and corn prices have slipped below $4 a bushel, down from a high of more than $8 per bushel in 2012. Overall, the value of U.S. field crops fell to $149.9 billion in 2014, a decrease from $166.7 billion (revised) reported in 2013 and a significant drop from the $184.4 billion (revised) reported in 2012.
A portion of Governor McAuliffe’s strategic plan for building a New Virginia Economy includes helping existing agribusinesses expand operations, recruiting new agribusinesses to Virginia, expanding international markets for Virginia products, and making strategic investments in rural infrastructure that support job growth in these areas. Nearly a quarter of all Virginians live in rural communities, meaning the health of Virginia’s entire economy is linked closely to the prosperity of agriculture and forestry.