(The Center Square) – Virginia’s agricultural and forestry exports soared to a value of more than $5.1 billion in 2022, according to new data released this week by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
China is the state’s top export destination by far, purchasing $1.45 billion in agricultural and forestry products in 2022. Egypt, Taiwan, Venezuela and Canada are also in the top five destinations for Virginia’s agricultural exports. Soybeans and soybean meal are the state’s top exports, followed by pork, poultry and tobacco, according to data from VDACS.
The 2022 export value surpassed a previous record set in 2021 of $4.07 billion in value, according to the governor’s office.
The new data comes just weeks before Gov. Glenn Youngkin is set to lead a trade mission to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan at the end of this month. In a statement on Monday, the governor said the 2022 data “provides a tremendous foundation to work from as I prepare to embark on my first international trade mission.”
Youngkin also said the data “is a clear indication of the strength of the Commonwealth’s first and third largest private industries.”
Farming is Virginia’s largest private industry, providing over 381,800 jobs and producing an $82 billion impact to the state’s economy, according to VDACS.
The majority of Virginia’s exported agricultural and forestry goods are processed by the Port of Virginia, which operates six state-owned marine terminals. A lot of those agricultural goods move through the Richmond Marine Terminal, according to Joseph Harris, spokesman for the Port of Virginia.
“The port plays a significant role. Agricultural exports are some of the primary things that we do export,” Harris told The Center Square. “We connect with almost every continent in the world…as far as important international markets, we reach them all.”
“Virginia-grown agricultural goods reach the world through the Port of Virginia,” Harris added.
The Port of Virginia also handles agricultural exports from outside the state, including goods coming from the Midwest, Harris said.
“We find that more and more [agricultural] exporters are looking to move over the Port of Virginia because of our efficiency, our ability to handle trains, trucks and ships all very quickly and get that stuff moving to market,” Harris said. “We’re seeing this area of business for us grown, and we don’t anticipate it slowing down.”
In addition to agricultural products, the state saw a 1,300% increase in the export of wood pellets in 2022 compared to 2022, which was “likely driven by increased demand in Europe and Asia,” according to the governor’s office.