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Report shows farms and forests still a big part of Virginia's economy

Despite growth in urban and suburban areas, farming remains an important part of Virginia's economy.

Soybeans and grains are the most common crops in Virginia, but UVA economist Terry Rephann says other farm products have a bigger impact.

“Virginia has a lot of specialty crops that really add up when you put them all together. You have peanuts and grapes for wine, and a lot of value added goes on in those sectors, so they’re more economically significant than just growing the crops.”

With poultry processing plants in the Shenandoah Valley and the Delmarva Peninsula, this state ranks 10th in the nation for poultry production, and while fewer Americans are smoking, global demand for tobacco is strong.

“We actually have a firm called Japanese Tobacco International. They have a de-stemming plant down in Southside, in Danville," Rephann says. "Virginia-grown tobacco is a world-class crop. It’s regarded as the finest in the world.”

The state ranked eighth in the nation for peanut production and was number seven for apples. Rephann says the total employment impact of agriculture and forestry climbed 3 percent over a five-year period, and the value added to farm products rose ten percent. Those numbers might have been greater had it not been for disruptions caused by COVID.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief