In May 2017, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia released “The Economic Impact of Virginia’s Agriculture and Forest Industries.” The 71-page report, written by Terance J. Rephann, is available online (as of July 2017) at the the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Web site, http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/; the Virginia Department of Forestry Web site, http://www.dof.virginia.gov/; or directly (as a PDF) at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/weldoncooper2017.pdf.
Following are some main findings, from the Study Highlights (page 1), all as of in 2015. the base year used for the study.
*Total economic impact of agriculture and forestry-related industries in Virginia was over $91 billion ($70 billion in agriculture, $21 billion in forestry).
*Total employment impact was 442,260 employees (8.7 percent of total state employment) (334,000 in agriculture, 107,900 in forestry).
*Total value-added impact was $45.5 billion (9.5 percent of state gross domestic product) ($36.2 billion in agriculture, $9.3 billion in forestry).
*Agricultural economic impacts were “geographically diffuse. The largest clusters of agricultural-related industry employment impact were located in the Shenandoah Valley, Northern Virginia, and Central Virginia. The largest forestry-related economic impacts tended to be somewhat more geographically concentrated in the Southside region and communities with pulp and paper mills such as Alleghany County and Covington City.”
*Total economic impact of agriculture and forestry-related industry exports was approximately 47,000 jobs (one in nine farm jobs), $4.6 billion in value-added, and nearly $9 billion in total output.
*Results from other recent studies indicate that Virginia agricultural tourism and forest recreation account for “millions of visitors and billions of dollars of tourism-related spending and economic impact each year.”
*Agriculture and forestry landscapes provide substantial environmental and other societal benefits. “Forests improve air and water quality, mitigate flood vulnerability, provide wildlife habitat, and aid biodiversity. Rural landscapes provide scenic amenities that contribute to the quality of life. The value of air and water environmental services provided by farmland and forestland likely amounts to at least several billion dollars each year.”