Port is major player in moving farm and forestry products into the world

Port is major player in moving farm and forestry products into the world

The Port of Virginia helps move agriculture and forestry products within the U.S. and around the globe.

In 2016, the state’s agriculture and forestry exports were valued at $2.77 billion and, by volume, accounted for more than half of containerized exports moving through Virginia’s port system. The top three ag and forestry export markets for Virginia in 2016 were China, Canada and Switzerland.

The port “opens up another market for small grain farmers in Virginia,” noted Virginia Beach grain merchandiser Sterling Salmons. He and his father operate Salmons Incorporated, which delivers truckloads of soybeans to the Norfolk terminal each day for exporting.

If the port wasn’t in Virginia, farmers would have to pay higher transportation costs to move their products across the region or country to another port, Salmons said.

In addition to exporting Virginia-grown and -made goods, the port system imports goods and transports them within the state. 

The Port of Virginia is the brand name for those entities owned or operated under the Virginia Port Authority, a government agency. The VPA owns the Hampton Roads Chassis Pool, which maintains and rents chassis to motor carriers servicing the port, and Virginia International Terminals, LLC, the VPA’s terminal operating company. The VPA also owns four general cargo facilities: Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal.

The port, the nation’s fifth largest, is currently undergoing the biggest expansion in its history—increasing its annual container capacity by 40 percent or 1 million container units. The expansion is focused on Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals and is expected to be completed by 2020. Additionally, the port has gotten approval to begin its “Wider, Deeper, Safer” project, which will make the POV the East Coast’s deepest and safest port. When the dredging is complete in 2024, the channels serving the Norfolk Harbor will be 55 feet deep and wide enough for two-way vessel traffic of the biggest ships afloat.

The port’s expanding rail connections offered by its rail partners, CSX and Norfolk Southern, allow it to reach customers as far north as Chicago, south into North Carolina and into the Midwest’s traditional manufacturing and population centers.

A recent economic study from the College of William & Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps create more than 530,000 jobs and generates $88.4 billion in total economic impact on an annual basis.

2017 Top 10 Trading Partners


1. China $3,064
2. Brazil $2,211
3. Belgium $1,947
4. United Kingdom $1,541
5. Germany $1,510
6. Netherlands $1,330
7. Japan $1,020
8. India $816
9. Spain $780
10. Austria $685


1. China $11,193
2. Germany $6,189
3. India $2,844
4. Italy $2,432
5. Japan $2,124
6. Malaysia $1,556
7. France $1,555
8. Vietnam $1,490
9. Brazil $1,434
10. United Kingdom $1,262

Top 10 Commodities

(Based on total cargo in $ millions, U.S. dollars)


1. Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery $3,573
2. Pharmaceuticals $2,066
3. Plastics $1,844
4. Vehicles, not railway $1,819
5. Organic chemicals $1,187
6. Wood $1,104
7. Grain, seed, fruit $1,011
8. Electrical machinery $960
9. Chemical products $927
10. Tobacco $829


1. Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery $9,830
2. Electrical machinery $3,936
3. Vehicles, not railway $2,975
4. Furniture and bedding $2,717
5. Pharmaceuticals $2,548
6. Plastics $2,057
7. Toys, games, sport equipment $1,401
8. Organic chemicals $1,288
9. Beverages, spirts, vinegar $1,270
10. Iron or steel $1,160

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