Governor Bob McDonnell, traveling on a trade and marketing mission to Canada, today announced new export sales of Virginia beef cattle into Canada. The new export business opens the door for Virginia producers to sell directly to beef cattle operators in eastern Canada without having to ship to middlemen in other states first, thus enhancing income opportunities for Virginia farms.
Commenting on the new Canadian export business, Governor McDonnell said, "Growing existing markets and developing new export business for Virginia's agricultural producers continue to be top economic growth priorities for my administration. Export sales, such as new direct cattle shipments to Canada, help support job creation and economic development opportunities across Virginia. Last month I announced that Virginia's agricultural exports hit a new record level in 2011, so I am pleased to see Virginia's aggressive international marketing efforts continuing to pay off as we seek to reach new heights in 2012."
The new beef cattle exports to Canada follow the recently announced deal for Virginia's first direct exports of dairy cattle to Russia in January. These deals, along with the Commonwealth's aggressive new international agricultural marketing efforts, are helping solidify Virginia's reputation as a supplier of high quality livestock genetics in the global marketplace.
Five shipments are part of the new export deal to Canada, with several loads having crossed the border this week. At current market prices, the value of each shipment of cattle is in excess of $75,000. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, for every $1.00 in agricultural exports another $1.40 is generated via in-state activities such as shipping, processing, storing, and financing.
Governor McDonnell today sent Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd P. Haymore, to visit the farm in Quebec Province that purchased the first direct shipments of Virginia cattle and to work with the importer on future purchases of Virginia cattle.
"We expect the Quebec Province and eastern Canada to be significant new markets for high quality beef cattle from Virginia," said Secretary Haymore. "Canada is already a major market for Virginia's agribusiness exports, such as fresh produce, hardwood lumber, and seafood. I applaud my staff, who saw an opportunity to increase trade by linking private business entities, for their efforts in Canada. The addition of a new, active buyer for Virginia cattle is also a benefit as the greater the buying competition, the better the average price Virginia producers can achieve."
In advance of the trade mission to Canada, which has more than 80,000 beef cattle producers according to the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) staff worked with a beef cattle producer in Quebec and the Canadian export authority to meet the entry requirements for Virginia feeder cattle into Quebec. Staff then linked the Canadian buyer with Virginia beef cattle farmers and utilized Virginia's Tel-O-Auction marketing system to put together the first direct exports.
While Canada ranked as Virginia's third largest agricultural export customer, importing $220 million worth of farm and forest products in 2011, eastern Canada is a new market for Virginia beef cattle. Typically, Virginia beef cattle are sold to cattle feeders in states such as Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska before being sold to Canada and other importers. Many beef cattle producers in eastern Canada are already supplying meat processing facilities in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States. Rather than have empty livestock trailers returning to Canada, Virginia farmers can now partner directly with livestock finishing operators in Canada as a result of VDACS work with private sector partners in Virginia and Canada.
Through increased international marketing funding from Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly, VDACS has expanded its livestock marketing efforts in key global markets. Through these efforts, Virginia livestock are becoming known better for their consistency, quality, and health plus feed lot and carcass performance in larger beef cattle markets of the Midwestern United States and now in Canada.
In 2010, Governor McDonnell implemented a strategic initiative to grow the state's agricultural and forest product exports. Working in close partnership with Virginia's producers and agribusinesses, the McDonnell administration's agricultural export team focuses on retaining strong market presence in mature and established markets like Canada, China and Japan, while pursuing new opportunities in emerging markets such as Turkey, India, and Colombia. In addition, the plan also calls for further development of business in unconventional markets, such as Cuba and Venezuela. Secretary Haymore and VDACS staff also work with state government partners, including the Secretariat of Commerce and Trade, the Virginia Port Authority, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation to find more export opportunities.
Last month, the Governor announced that the Commonwealth exported a record $2.35 billion in agricultural products in 2011, a more than six percent increase from 2010. The new record is also more than a two percent increase above the 2009 level when Virginia reached its previous record high for agricultural exports.
Agriculture and forestry are Virginia's largest industries, with a combined economic impact of $79 billion annually: $55 billion from agriculture and $24 billion from forestry. The industries also provide approximately 500,000 jobs in the Commonwealth according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.