Get the big picture of the state’s largest industry

(© Mark Howard – stock.adobe.com)

Virginia Agriculture Week is approaching, and the state’s farms are ready to be the stars of the show.

Held this year June 12-18, Virginia Agriculture Week celebrates agriculture’s $70 billion annual economic impact and the 334,000 jobs it generates. Commodities and products grown and produced in Virginia are sourced from a broad range of agricultural zones, from mountainous altitudes to the sprawling Piedmont, and below sea level.

To help paint a picture of the state’s largest private industry, photographers are invited to submit their best farm photos to the Virginia Agriculture Week Photo Contest, organized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Photographers may share photos in several categories—agricultural landscapes, livestock, produce and crops, local food and aquaculture. Winners will receive a Virginia’s Finest gift basket valued up to $200, and their photos will be featured in Virginia Agriculture magazine.

There is plenty to photograph. Virginia is home to 43,225 farms on 7.8 million acres of land, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture. The average farm size is 181 acres. The typical Virginia farmer is 58.5 years old, and about 36% of primary farm operators are female. Broiler chickens top the state’s commodities list with annual cash receipts at $625 million, followed by cattle, miscellaneous crops, turkeys, dairy and milk, and soybeans.

The state’s farmers are represented by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the commonwealth’s largest agricultural advocacy group. With more than 132,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, the organization provides a unified voice to advocate for local, state and national policies using a grassroots process.

“While we celebrate the efforts of our farmers every day, Virginia Agriculture Week is an opportunity to include the public in that recognition, sharing gratitude for the state’s agricultural community,” said Wayne F. Pryor, VFBF president and a Goochland County grain and hay producer. “The high-quality food, fiber and other products grown by Virginia farmers are valued at all levels—from neighborhood farm stands to international exports.”

The VDACS photo contest’s entry deadline is May 31. Visit bit.ly/3Mb0SgY for complete contest rules.

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