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Agriculture still state's largest industry

By Alison Laurio -- alaurio@nvdaily.com

Agriculture has a $55 billion economic impact on Virginia.

"It is by far the state's largest industry," said Elaine Lidholm, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "Nothing else really comes a close second. Most people are surprised when they hear that."

The data is for 2010 and was reported last year.

Within agriculture is horticulture, which includes nurseries and greenhouses; sod and turf grass, mostly grown for new homes and golf courses; crops; and livestock, she said.

"Horticulture is our fourth-largest industry within agriculture in terms of cash receipts," Lidholm said. "Fifteen years ago, it wasn't even on the list."

It totaled $261 million in annual cash receipts for 2010, more than the $256 million it brought in in 2008 when it ranked No. 5, she said.

"It has actually gained since the crash," Lidholm said.

The agency does not break down data by county or region.

Other top money makers within agriculture in 2010 were:
• Chickens, bringing in $550 million.
• Cattle and calves, with $288 million in revenue.
• Milk, adding $264 million in cash receipts.

The 2010 economic impact of the wine industry was $747 million, a 106 percent increase from 2005, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell's office.

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