Economic output of Virginia agriculture and forestry exceeds $100 billion

Published 8:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2022

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A newly released study found that the annual economic impact of Virginia’s agriculture and forestry sectors increased by nearly 7% since similar research was conducted in 2016.

The economic impact study conducted by The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia found that agriculture and forestry contributed more than $105 billion to Virginia’s economy in 2021. The 2016 study reported the sectors’ combined economic output totaled $98.2 billion.

Additionally, the number of jobs in farming and forestry increased from 478,079 in 2016 to 490,295 in 2021.

The new study also concluded the economic improvement occurred despite numerous production and supply chain interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In addition to more than $105 billion in total industry output, the total value-added impact of Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries was $55.1 billion, which made up 9.3% of the state’s gross domestic product,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Youngkin first announced the study’s findings Nov. 30 during the 2022 Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention.

“This study highlights the important role Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries play in the commonwealth’s economy,” he shared. “These industries are major employers, and their economic influence is far beyond the farms and forests where most agricultural and forestry commodities are grown and harvested.”

The study determined the economic impact of Virginia agriculture alone was $82.3 billion and generated $43.8 billion in value-added impact. The agricultural sector also provided 381,844 jobs in the commonwealth.

Livestock, and related meat and dairy products, accounted for about 63% of the state’s agricultural cash receipts. Field crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans, and greenhouse and nursery products also were found to be significant economic contributors.

Virginia is ranked fourth nationally in tobacco production, seventh in apples, eighth for peanuts and 10th for poultry, egg and trout production in 2021.

Forestry was found to be Virginia’s third largest industry, with a total economic impact of $23.6 billion and value-added impact of $11.3 billion. The forestry sector provided 108,451 jobs in 2021.

The study did not include research of the financial impact of activities such as agricultural festivals, agritourism, ecosystems services, recreational activities, wildlife habitat services and wine tourism. If included, the total economic impact could be several billion dollars more than the $105 billion.