Va. agricultural exports reached record high in 2011

A view of the Port of Norfolk

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced on March 13 that the commonwealth exported a record $2.35 billion in agricultural products in 2011, an increase of more than 6 percent from 2010 and more than 2 percent from 2009.
McDonnell spoke during the opening lunch at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade.
“Agriculture and forestry are vitally important to economic growth in Virginia,” he said. “With more than one-quarter of farm cash receipts attributable to export sales, continuing to grow Virginia’s agribusiness exports is a priority for my administration. … Exports are key factors in keeping our economy moving forward, and they support jobs, from our farms to our outstanding air, land and sea ports.”
Virginia’s strong position in the global marketplace is due in part to its diversified portfolio of products and export markets. Top export products in 2011 included soybeans; poultry; wheat; pork; lumber and wood products; corn; animal feed; leaf tobacco; fats and oils; cotton; marine and aquaculture products; fresh vegetables; raw peanuts; hides and skins; processed foods and beverages, including wine.

Virginia’s top three ag export markets in 2011 were Morocco, with exports totaling more than $360 million in 2011; China, which saw its exports from Virginia grow to $304 million; and Canada, with exports of $220 million.

Todd P. Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture, said in a Op/Ed piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for every $1 of agricultural products exported, another $1.40 is generated by in-state activities, such as processing, packaging and shipping. Importantly, exports generated nearly 30 percent of annual farm cash receipts last year.

“Virginians have no doubt as to the superiority of our agricultural and forestry products. Now, with the help of an aggressive global marketing strategy implemented by McDonnell, more countries around the world are discovering what Virginia has to offer,” Haymore said.
There is concern, on the national level, about the Obama administration’s approach to a major Asian-Pacific free trade deal currently in the advanced stages of negotiations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) aims to ease American exporters’ access to major Asian-Pacific markets, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.

However, the administration is considering carving out tobacco leaf and tobacco products from the agreement, a move that would shut out Virginia tobacco farmers from countries that account for 40 percent of global trade and 75 percent of Virginia’s agricultural exports.

Virginia farming and business communities have joined the Farm Bureau and Commissioner Lohr in urging the Obama administration to negotiate a trade agreement that benefits all of Virginia’s farmers. This is something we are monitoring and will continue to keep you posted.