RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia farmers contribute to the nation’s abundance of safe, healthy and affordable food and other products, using innovative, climate-smart practices.
Virginia Agriculture Week, June 13-19, offers consumers a chance to show appreciation for farmers’ hard work. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services organizes the annual tribute to encourage consumers to support the state’s farmers by buying Virginia products and visiting farms and agribusinesses.
VDACS also is encouraging the public to participate in its Virginia Agriculture Week Photo Contest, which is open to amateur photographers statewide through May 31. Photographers ages 18 and up can submit images that best depict Virginia agriculture. In addition to prizes, the winning photo will be featured in the 2022 edition of Virginia Agriculture magazine. For contest details, visit bit.ly/AgWeekphotocontest.
“Virginia Agriculture Week is a meaningful opportunity to celebrate farmers and enhance public recognition of agriculture statewide,” said Wayne F. Pryor, president of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and a Goochland County grain and hay producer. “Our farmers take seriously the responsibility of providing safe, abundant food and other products for consumers, day after day.”
Gov. Ralph Northam issued a proclamation to commemorate the week, recognizing that agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, contributing $70 billion annually to the state’s economy and employing more than 334,000 people.
“As the pandemic created economic disruptions, capacity restrictions and other unique challenges, Virginia’s agricultural industry continued to provide food, fiber and fuel to consumers around the state, nation and world,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Virginia Agriculture Week provides an opportunity for us to thank our farmers and agribusinesses for their critical role in the commonwealth’s economic rebound. We can all help our economy recover and thank Virginia’s farmers by purchasing fresh, local Virginia-grown products.
A statistical snapshot of Virginia’s diverse agricultural endeavors shows there’s a lot to appreciate, with varied climates and landscapes that allow 43,225 farms to cultivate a range of commodities on almost 7.8 million acres.
The proclamation notes that Virginia ranks among the Top 10 producing states in the nation for several commodities, including fourth for leaf tobacco, fifth for turkeys, seventh for apples, eighth for grapes and peanuts and 10th for broiler chickens.
According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, most Virginia farms range from 50 to 179 acres, with 97% of those farms owned and operated by families. Ranked by acreage, Virginia’s biggest farm counties are Augusta, Pittsylvania, Rockingham, Fauquier and Bedford.
–Virginia Farm Bureau