Virginia’s Largest Industry Might Surprise You

apple-orchardVirginia recently won praise for being an excellent place to do business. But do you know what Virginia’s largest business is? Many people are surprised to learn that it is agriculture.

“Agriculture is not only Virginia’s largest industry,” says Todd P. Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, “but it is a surprisingly diverse and sophisticated business. Virginia produces a vast array of outstanding agricultural products and exports those products to a very diverse portfolio of countries all around the world.”

Here is just a sampling of facts: Virginia agriculture has an annual economic impact of $55 billion dollars and provides more than 357,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. It is an extremely diverse industry that produces poultry, livestock, milk, seafood, peanuts, fruits and vegetables, greenhouse and nursery, field crops and a host of specialty products. Virginia agricultural exports totaled more than $2.3 billion in 2009, a record for the state, and many Virginia Grown products rank in the top 10 nationally.

Virginia Farm Profile
  • Virginia has more than 47,000 farms.
  • The typical Virginia farmer is 58.2 years old. Nearly 30 percent of farmers are 65 years of age or older.
  • The average farm size is 181 acres and has assets worth more than $1 million.
  • Farms cover 8.1 million acres, or 32 percent of Virginia’s total land area.
  • Approximately 14 percent of Virginia’s primary farm operators are female.
  • The average market value of an acre of Virginia farmland is $5,900.
  • About 90 percent of Virginia farms are owned and operated by individuals or families.
  • About 25 percent of Virginia farms share the farm income with multiple households.

Source: 2007 Census of Agriculture