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.

Agricultural trade conference will take place March 13 and 14

Governor Bob McDonnell will host the “Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade March 13 and 14 in Richmond. The two-day conference, which is co-hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and the Virginia Port Authority, will bring together Virginia-based agribusinesses, exporters, foreign ambassadors and embassy ministers and offer workshops on the international trade of agricultural goods.

Governor McDonnell will open the conference at a noon lunch on March 13 with a keynote speech on agricultural exports and the role agriculture and forestry, the state’s largest industries, play in Virginia’s economy. The governor will also announce total figures for agricultural exports from Virginia for 2011. In 2010, the Commonwealth totaled more than $2.24 billion in agricultural exports, the second highest total of all-time. Agricultural exports from Virginia reached an all-time high in 2009 when more than $2.3 billion of products were shipped into the global marketplace.

Speaking about the upcoming conference, Governor McDonnell said, “I am pleased to announce the upcoming Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade. My administration, working with our private sector partners, has aggressively pursued opportunities to open new markets around the world for Virginia agricultural products and the new export figures for 2011 to be announced at the conference will reflect the hard work and success of Virginia agribusinesses in this past year. With more than half a million jobs in Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries, it is vital to the health of our economy that we continue to promote the trade deals that connect these fine products with domestic and overseas consumers. At this conference we will bring together stakeholders to share what works in agricultural trade and to chart a course for future growth.”

In addition to Governor McDonnell, the conference is scheduled to feature presentations from, among others, Ambassador Gabriel Silva Luján of Colombia; Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative; Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation President; Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; David Nelson, Rabobank America’s Global Strategist; and Randy Russell, a Principal at Russell and Barron.

Since taking office in 2010, Governor McDonnell led overseas economic development and job creation missions to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, China, South Korea, Israel and India. These missions have resulted in more than $100 million in new agricultural exports from Virginia so far. Gubernatorial trade missions for 2012 are being planned now.

What: The Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade
Conference information and a tentative agenda available here:
When: Tuesday, March13: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Wednesday, March 14: 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Where: Omni Hotel, Richmond
Who: Governor McDonnell, Virginia-based agribusinesses, exporters, foreign ambassadors and embassy ministers