McAuliffe: Virginia will be East Coast’s No. 1 ag exporter

RICHMOND—Virginia agricultural and forestry exports in 2014 totaled $3.35 billion, setting a record and topping $3 billion for the first time ever.

That’s a 14 percent increase over 2013’s record-setting $2.9 billion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced March 9 at the seventh annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade. The conference ran through March 10 at the Richmond Marriott and was attended by agribusiness stakeholders, farmers, trade representatives and foreign ambassadors.

“This is a dynamite industry for the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “This impressive growth catapults us to the second-largest exporter on the East Coast. But we need to be the No. 1 East Coast capitol for agriculture and forestry exports.”

McAuliffe vowed to do anything he could to make that happen. 

This is the fourth consecutive year that Virginia has seen record-level agricultural exports; those exports have increased in value by 49 percent since 2010, when the state launched a strategic plan for their growth.

“The marketplace for all goods will continue to be more global in nature and will only grow as the worldwide population increases dramatically,” said Spencer Neale, commodity marketing director for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “But it is a highly competitive marketplace, and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, tough negotiating and feet on the ground in foreign countries to promote one’s goods. Virginia’s ongoing commitment to those principles is why we continue to grow our forestry and ag exports.

“But just as important are the high-quality products our Virginia farmers produce that have earned them a longstanding reputation worldwide.”

The top five countries importing Virginia agriculture and forestry products are China, Canada, Switzerland, Mexico and Russia. The top five ag and forestry exports from Virginia are soybeans; soybean meal and oil; lumber and logs; pork; and unmanufactured leaf tobacco.

As in 2013, the gain in exports came despite a continued drop in the value of U.S. commodity crops. Favorable growing conditions and record yields contributed to lower crop prices in 2014. Soybean prices dropped 28 percent compared to 2013, and corn prices slipped below $4 a bushel, down from a high of more than $8 per bushel in 2012.

The Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade was co-hosted by Farm Bureau, the Virginia Port Authority, Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Media: Contact Neale at 804-290-1156.

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