Virginia Breaks Record for Agricultural Exports in 2009
– Commonwealth Increases Exports by 28%, Half a Billion Dollars in Value, Over Last Two Years –
**Growth Moves Virginia into Top Ten States for Agricultural Exports**
NORFOLK - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today a continued increase in agricultural exports from Virginia. The Governor made the announcement during his remarks at the 2nd International Virginia Agricultural Trade Conference in Norfolk. The Commonwealth exported a record $2.3 billion in agricultural products in 2009, a five percent increase from 2008, and a 28% increase over the last two years. This increase comes despite distressed economic conditions worldwide and in the midst of an overall national decrease in agricultural exports.
Last year's figures top the previous record of $2.2 billion in exports set in 2008. The 2008 figures were an increase from 2007's $1.8 billion in exports.
Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell remarked, "Agriculture is Virginia's number one industry and absolutely critical to our economic vitality. Increased exports mean more jobs and economic growth in Virginia. In two years, during the worst economic conditions in decades, Virginia's agricultural exports grew by half a billion dollars. As Virginia's overseas markets continue to grow, our farmers and agribusinesses will continue to create new jobs and retain existing ones. In today's economy, that is absolutely crucial."
McDonnell continued, "Much of Virginia's agricultural strength lies in our diversity of exports. It is because of this and the high quality of our products that agricultural exports will remain strong. Our growers and agribusinesses are producing some of the world's finest and highly demanded products. While we had a successful year last year, we can't stop here. I look forward to working closely with both Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng to ensure increased success in the global market."
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Haymore commented, "Today's news is a testament to our hard working farmers and producers who are producing some of the world's finest products. It's also a tribute to our outstanding processors and manufacturers, our strategic mid-Atlantic location, and our world-class port system, which allows for our agricultural products to move quickly and efficiently into the global marketplace."
Virginia's success breaks with national export trends. While overall agricultural exports from the United States are down 14 percent, Virginia agricultural exports grew by $100 million in 2009. Virginia's growth put the Commonwealth in the top ten nationally of agricultural exporting states, ranking the state ninth in 2009, up from 11th in 2008.
Virginia's top export recipients and the total value of agricultural exports in 2009 were: Canada, $198 million worth of products; China, $169; the Netherlands, $118; Morocco, $105; Indonesia, $100; Turkey, $98; Switzerland, $98; Malaysia, $83; Germany, $82; Venezuela, $78; Egypt, $74; Russia, $68; Mexico, $64; Cuba, $57; Portugal, $52; Ireland, $48; Vietnam, $48; Philippines, $41; Japan, $40 and Hong Kong, $39.
The Commonwealth's top export products in 2009 included: soybeans; wheat; corn; barley and animal feed; un-manufactured leaf tobacco; meat and poultry; wood products; fats and oils; cotton; marine and aquaculture products; fresh vegetables; raw peanuts; hides and skins; and processed food.
The International Agricultural Trade Conference was hosted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Port Authority, Virginia Tech, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The conference was designed to explore the challenges and opportunities for expanded exports of local, regional, and national agricultural goods.
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