The numbers are in and according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the value of the state’s agricultural exports for 2008 increased more than 27 percent over the 2007 total.

In 2008, Virginia exported $2.22 billion worth of agricultural products versus $1.74 billion in 2007.

“We can thank our hard-working, dedicated farmers and producers for the strong growth of Virginia agricultural exports. Their high quality products are in demand all around the world by a diversified portfolio of established and developing nations. This success in the international marketplace will help maintain agriculture as Virginia’s largest industry,” said VDACS Commissioner Todd P. Haymore. “Virginia has several other advantages when it comes to export marketing, including our strategic location in the Mid-Atlantic region and our world-class port facilities. In addition, Virginia agricultural productivity continues to advance due to increased mechanization and the adoption of new technologies.”

Virginia also benefits from the diversity of its agricultural exports. In 2008, these included soybeans, wheat, corn, barley and animal feed valued at $792 million; un-manufactured tobacco valued at $442 million; and meat and poultry valued at $302 million.

In addition, Virginia exported $240 million worth of wood products, $170 million worth of fats and oils, $51 million worth of cotton and $22 million worth of marine and aquaculture products.

Virginia’s fresh vegetables added $15.5 million to the export total along with $7.8 million for raw peanuts and nearly $5 million for hides and skins.

Canada and Egypt remained Virginia’s top export markets for 2008. Canada received approximately $188 million worth of the state’s farm products, an increase of more than 15 percent over 2007. Agricultural exports to Egypt increased almost 11 percent during the same time period. Sales to Cuba, one of Virginia’s fastest growing export markets, grew by 25 percent in 2008 over 2007 levels.

Virginia’s top 20 agricultural export markets also included Switzerland, Morocco, China, Indonesia, Venezuela, Turkey, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Jamaica, Vietnam and Taiwan. Eleven of these markets were not represented among Virginia’s top 20 for 2007, so along with increased values, Virginia agricultural exports reached a broader range of destinations.

The export totals are based on statistics from the Global Trade Information Services, Inc. The figures include some agricultural products from surrounding states that are exported via Virginia, and omit Virginia agricultural products exported through nearby states.

Go to http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/international/index.shtml to find out more about Virginia agricultural exports.