Virginia farms saw a dramatic increase in both the market value of production and the average value of products sold per farm according to the preliminary results of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture. Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry and, combined with forestry, earns $70 billion annually and provides more than 400,000 jobs.
From 2007 to 2012, Virginia’s market value of production increased 29 percent to $3.8 billion, up 29 percent from $2.9 billion in 2007. The average value of products sold per farm increased 33 percent to $81,540, compared to $61,334 in 2007.
Land in farms rose 3 percent to 8.3 million acres, but the number of farms decreased, meaning that Virginia farms are growing larger. Farmers now average 59.5 years of age, up from 58.2 in 2007, and a full year older than the national average of 58.3 years.
Preliminary data also show the number of farms in Virginia totaled 46,036 in 2012, down 3 percent (1,347 farms) from 47,383 farms in 2007. The average size of a farm in Virginia is 181 acres, compared to 171 acres in 2007.
At the national level, the amount of land in farms in the United States declined by less than one percent, from 922 million acres to 915 million, the third smallest decline between censuses since 1950. The downward trend in mid-sized farms continued while the smallest- and largest-size farms held steady.
Nationally the value of agriculture products sold totaled $394.6 billion in 2012, up 33 percent ($97.4 billion) from 2007. For only the second time in Census history, crop sales ($212.4 billion) exceeded livestock sales ($182.2 billion).