Unless I get long-winded, by the time you finish reading this post, our world will be inhabited by an additional 450 people, that’s 20 more since you started reading this sentence. By the year 2050, experts predict that world population will rise to 9 billion people, with approximately 4 percent of that population living within the United States. The ability to grow the food and fiber necessary to feed the needs of our growing world population is a tremendous concern, but we must also be able to market and transport our products to the 96 percent of the population living outside our borders.
At our second seminar in the Southeastern portion of Virginia, the VALOR fellows met with Charles Green, Director of Marketing for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Mr. Green shared the successes and challenges faced by VDACS Marketing Development Services. Virginia has seen an increase in our agricultural exports of more than $150 Million in the past three years. In addition, VDACS has a regional office in Hong Kong and representative offices in Shanghai, China, New Delhi, India, Cuernavaca, Mexico and Surrey, England, with plans to develop offices in Latin America and Europe. These offices provide daily contact with international consumers, in an effort to provide sales leads for Virginia products. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Todd Haymore, and representatives of the VDACS Division of Marketing and Development have visited four continents and numerous countries in an effort to further grow our potential for international trade. Virginia is fortunate to have a wealth of products to share on the world market, to meet the growing demand. This growth has not come without challenges. Barriers to trade, including the Chinese ban on Virginia logs and poultry, have had a tremendous impact on our exports. Through the efforts of the Governor, the Secretary, and VDACS, there has been some progress in easing these barriers, but meeting the varying needs of a world market is a constant concern.
Our meeting with Mr. Green took place at Royal Fumigation, in Suffolk, VA. Our host was Operations Manager Jorge Marrero. Royal Fumigation provides pest services for export and import products, including container fumigation and on-site fumigation for grain, feed, tobacco, and structural applications. Mr. Marrero shared the details of how containers are processed, as well as the challenges that the business faces. Each international market has specific guidelines that must be followed. In addition, unexpected trade barriers have had a tremendous impact on the volume of containers that Royal Fumigation has handled.
Virginia’s Agricultural and Natural Resources industries have a tremendous opportunity to market our products on an international stage. With the continued support of our state leaders, the Port of Virginia, and progressive producers that seek to sell on a global market, we can take advantage of this opportunity.
On behalf of the VALOR fellows, I would like to thank Mr. Green and Mr. Marrero for sharing their knowledge with us, and for the role that they play in keeping Virginia Agriculture viable on an international scale.