Initiatives

Agricultural Trade

  • Virginia agricultural exports, which also include forestry products, reached a new all-time high of $2.85 billion in 2013, up more than 8 percent in total value from the previous record reached in 2012.  Virginia's agricultural exports are competitive in the global marketplace because of the high quality and diversity of products available for export and the Commonwealth’s excellent sea, air, and land port system.  Governor McAuliffe’s strategic plan in agriculture and forestry for continuing to grow Virginia’s economy includes helping existing agribusinesses expand operations, recruiting new agribusinesses to Virginia, expanding international markets for Virginia products, and making strategic investments in rural infrastructure that support job growth in these areas.  With more than thirty percent of gross farm income linked to exports, access to vibrant international markets is important to Virginia’s future economic prosperity. 

Agricultural Biotechnology

  • As one pillar of the New Virginia Economy Bioscience Initiative, Governor McAuliffe is working to build on the existing strengths of the agriculture industry in Virginia by tapping into agriculture and industrial bio commercialization opportunities with the Virginia Ag Bio Initiative.  According to a 2014 Battelle Bio study, Virginia’s biotechnology industry is thriving, with more than 26,500 industry jobs that spanned 1,451 business establishments in 2012.  The same study shows Virginia enjoyed double-digit employment gains from 2007-2012 in the agricultural feedstock and chemicals subsector, which involves industries that utilize biochemistry and biotechnology for producing everything from food to fuel.  Building on these strengths with cutting edge research at our universities, including land-grant universities and statewide agricultural extension network, presents an opportunity for Virginia to continue growth in this sector.  For more information about Virginia’s biotechnology assets, including Ag Bio, please visit https://www.vabio.org/?page=LifeScienceMap.

Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID)

  • The AFID Fund was created  during the 2012 session of the General Assembly and is being embraced by the McAuliffe Administration as an important tool in growing the Commonwealth’s agriculture and forestry sector and helping to make Virginia the leading exporter of agricultural and forest products on the East Coast.  More information about the AFID grant, which has the flexibility to assist projects large and small throughout Virginia, can be found at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/afid.shtml.
     

Farmland Preservation

  • Recognizing the significance of the loss of agricultural land and forests and the negative impact it would have on the state, the 2001 Virginia General Assembly established the Office of Farmland Preservation within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to help reverse the trend. The Office of Farmland Preservation works with the Secretary’s office to help establish local purchase of development rights (PDR) programs, to create programs to educate the public about the importance of farmland preservation, to help farmers with farmland preservation efforts, to assist local governments in developing additional farmland preservation policies and programs, and finally, to administer the Virginia Farm Link program. More information about the Office of Farmland Preservation can be found at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/conservation-and-environmental-farmland-preservation.shtml.

 

Virginia Wine Industry

  • Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2013 with more than 511,000 cases, or more than 6.1 million bottles, sold. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 250 wineries. Virginia is also shares the 5th spot with Texas as the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer. According to a recently released economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis.  Virginia is well on the way to becoming the East Coast capitol for wine and wine tourism.  For more information about the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office's website at http://www.virginiawine.org/ or call 804-344-8200.

Water Quality

  • Virginia farmers are some of the longest standing stewards of Virginia’s natural resources and depend on clean and plentiful water supplies.  Virginia’s forests provide a renewable resource that plays a central role in maintaining water quality.  Together with the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry represents the Commonwealth with regard to activities involving the Chesapeake Bay Program and its efforts to improve water quality.  The secretariat also works with producers to assist them in implementing best management practices that will improve water quality and maintain farm production.