Growing up in the western part of Virginia all you really see is beef cattle, poultry, some fruits and vegetables, and dairies with enough crop ground to support that dairy. I had always known that east of the Blue Ridge Mountains there were large amounts of row crops like corn, cotton, peanuts, and soy beans produced in the state BUT I never realized the size and scale produced. In the past whenever I thought about row crops my mind immediately thought about a flat mid-western farm that has 36 row planters to get the job done. Little did I know that of the Top 10 Commodities shipped by the Virginia Port Authority were agricultural products produced in Virginia.
I have always been taught and known that agriculture is the largest industry in not only the Commonwealth but nationally as well. However, our presentation from Greg Edwards from the Virginia Port Authority brought to light the actual numbers in metric tons of products produced and shipped in the commonwealth. In 2012 the VPA sent 49989.89 thousand metric tons of agriculture products through its ports. This equates to billions of dollars of revenue coming and going from the Commonwealth.
Having someone show me these numbers and open my eyes to the size and scale of Virginia Agriculture made me truly appreciate the impact agriculture has on the Virginia Economy. If you really think about what this does to the economy of Virginia: commodity revenue, sales tax revenue, job creation in agriculture and transportation, income tax on those jobs, fuel tax on transportation, higher wages due to increased commodity traffic, higher quality of lives for Virginians and the list continues.
When you hear broad states like “we are the biggest / largest” it really takes on a whole new meaning when that statement is backed up by actual numbers. Seeing that Virginia Agriculture is the largest industry in the state makes me proud that I am part of such a wonderful industry.