Soybeans led Virginia’s Top 12 farm and forest exports in 2016

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RICHMOND—Overseas demand for soybeans is strong, and the popular legume was the top Virginia farm and forest export in 2016.

Virginia boasts a reliable transportation infrastructure for moving farm and forestry products to The Port of Virginia—a major hub on the East Coast where goods are shipped to markets worldwide. Those markets provide a lucrative destination for Virginia farm commodities.

 “U.S. agricultural exports benefit Virginia farmers directly and indirectly,” noted Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Exports represent a significant demand for Virginia farm production such as poultry, pork, tobacco and soybeans. And while we export some corn directly, it is also exported indirectly via pork and poultry products that have been fed corn.”

Nearly one-third of the agricultural products grown in Virginia are exported; however, not all products exported from Virginia originated here.

“The top Virginia agriculture and forestry exports include items that are processed in Virginia but not necessarily grown here,” explained Stephanie Agee, director of marketing and development for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “They also include products that simply pass through Virginia from another state but are exported out of The Port of Virginia. While not produced here, these products are still important to the Virginia economy, as they support jobs in the transportation, storage and logistics industries, as well as at the port, a vital economic driver in the commonwealth.”

The value of the exports depends on market prices at the time each order is placed, so the top markets for each commodity can change annually.

China remains the No. 1 destination for the state’s agricultural and forestry exports, followed by Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Tunisia. Virginia agriculture and forestry products in 2016 were valued at $2.7 billion.

Virginia soybean exports in 2016 were valued at $701 million and were shipped mainly to China, Tunisia and Russia. The second most valuable export was wood products, valued at $270 million and shipped to China, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. Ranking third for Virginia exports was leaf tobacco, valued at $264 million and exported to Switzerland, Russia and Mexico. That was followed by pork at $238 million to China, Mexico and Japan, and then soy meal, valued at $176 million and primarily shipped to Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114.

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