Gov. Terry McAuliffe noted on March 7 that the decrease “is in (market) value, not in volume” and noted that the value of ag exports to Virginia’s top trading partners increased last year.
McAuliffe spoke at the opening luncheon of the eighth annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, announcing that Virginia has strengthened its position as the second-largest exporter of agricultural goods on the East Coast and narrowed the gap between the commonwealth and first-ranked Georgia.
Virginia agricultural exports reached an all-time high of $3.35 billion in 2014, the fourth consecutive year in which those exports set a record. Nationwide, ag exports were affected last year by depressed commodity prices; decreased shipments to certain regions due to prohibitive shipping costs; new trade bans; and various geopolitical challenges.
“Despite the global headwinds we faced this year, we will continue building the infrastructure to increase exports, and the new resources for that effort that I placed in my proposed budget … will help the cause,” McAuliffe said.
The governor told conference participants that he and his staff took part in 13 trade missions last year. “Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside of America. So you have to go where the customers are.”
In spite of a challenging global marketplace, “Virginia continues to be a leader in promoting agricultural exports, which have grown in value by 42 percent since 2010 when we launched a strategic initiative to increase shipments of these products,” said Todd Haymore, secretary of agriculture and forestry.
The top three export markets for Virginia in 2015 were China, Canada and Switzerland; all have held those spots since 2013. China imported more than $694 million in agricultural purchases, while Canada imported just over $291 million and Switzerland took in about $204 million. The value of exports to China and Canada increased by 1.4 and 4.3 percent, respectively, over 2014 levels, while those to Switzerland increased by 17 percent.
The remainder of Virginia’s top 10 export markets, along with the values shipped, are Mexico, $179 million; Japan, $175 million; United Kingdom, $134 million; Morocco, $103 million; Republic of Korea, $94 million; Taiwan, $90 million; and Indonesia, $70 million. All countries saw increases in value since 2014 except Indonesia.
Top agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia in 2015 included soybeans; pork; lumber and logs; soybean meal; leaf tobacco; processed foods and beverages, including wine, craft beer and distilled spirits; wood pellets and chips; poultry; soybean oil; wheat; animal feed; corn; raw peanuts; seafood and other marine products; and cotton.
The Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade was co-hosted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Port Authority and Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.