Virginia agriculture industry exports hit record high in 2021

farm corn
(© james_pintar –

If the Virginia Farmers entered a basketball tournament, they would be among the top ranked teams. That’s according to Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a basketball fan and self-proclaimed “enthusiastic, high-energy marketing director” for Virginia Agriculture.

“We’re here to win and take Virginia agriculture to the next level,” Youngkin told attendees of the Virginia Governor’s 14th Annual Agricultural Business Conference March 29. The annual conference is co-sponsored by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

“Last year we exported over $4.1 billion worth of agricultural and forestry products, an all-time record for the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “In fact, it was 28% higher than the year before. We are off to an extraordinary start in 2022.”

Youngkin noted that Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries represent $91 billion in overall economic activity for the state, as well as 440,000 jobs. That makes farming a slam dunk for his administration. “This is a sector that we must continue to develop,” he said.

The governor’s message was consistent with similar positive news about U.S. agricultural exports. According to US Undersecretary of Agriculture Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, agricultural exports boomed last year despite shipping delays and other pandemic-related challenges.

“Global exports of many U.S. products, including soybeans, corn, beef, pork, dairy, distillers grains and milk products, have all reached historic highs,” Bronaugh said. “And so we’re currently forecasting another record year for exports in 2022, up more than $10 billion from the previous year.”

Bronaugh praised Virginia farmers for their role in helping America remain the world’s most trusted supplier of agricultural products.

“We saw gains in China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Colombia, all setting new records in those markets,” she said. “And when I think of Virginia’s strong agricultural exports, like soybeans, soybean oil, wood products, tobacco, to name a few. Virginia is really supportive of this effort that we are really making” to boost agricultural exports.

Looking ahead, Bronaugh noted that US agricultural exports to Southeast Asia have grown to 10% of all sales over the past decade. And with the population set to explode in Africa over the next few years, she said, farmers and agribusinesses should look to these markets.

In pre-recorded remarks to the conference, VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor noted that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2022 annual report to Congress emphasizes expanding agricultural exports. “The trade policy agenda also recognizes the profound importance of maintaining a commercial relationship between the United States and China. And it recognizes that our respective countries can thrive as trading partners and competitors. It also affirms that any competition must be fair,” Pryor said.

“For Virginia’s agricultural business to remain viable and profitable, we need a global system that enforces environmental standards and ensures regulations are predictable and science-based.”

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