Census of Ag shows poultry continues to dominate Shore’s economy; aquaculture & nursery growing

March 18, 2024
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poultry plant chicks

The 2022 Ag Census Data has been released by USDA and it showed a mixed bag for the two Eastern Shore Counties.

Accomack and Northampton both cracked the top 10 list in Virginia for value of total agricultural production, with $326 million in Accomack and $109 million in Northampton.

Poultry and eggs leads the income generated in Virginia and Accomack County by agriculture. Accomack ranked #3 statewide, behind Rockingham and Augusta, with $269,657,000 worth of total product market value from poultry and eggs. Poultry not only represents by far and away the largest percentage of total farm sales in Accomack, but it also helps both Counties by being a regular market for Accomack & Northampton’s grain.

Accomack’s vegetable production is the second largest driver of farm income and also is in Virginia’s top 10 for soybeans and is ranked second for potatoes harvested in 2022. 

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Although Northampton County has been on a steady decline in the number of farms for many years, the 2022 Ag Census is showing a different trend with an increase in the number of small farms and a decrease in the number of larger farms. The overall number of farms increased from 142 to 151 between 2017 and 2022.

As far as nursery crop sales, Accomack reported $56,657,000 in sales, up from $46,931,000 in 2017, while Northampton reported $73,165,000 in nursery sales, which was up from $67,901,000 five years prior.

On the aquaculture side, both Accomack and Northampton saw increases in reported sales over the five year period. Accomack’s aquaculture sales went from $4,041,000 in 2017 to $8,720,000. Northampton saw an increase from $28,071,000 to $35,941,000.

Conducted every five years, the Ag Census looks at various factors in agriculture including land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. Preliminary data from 2022 was made available in February. The last census was conducted in 2017. The full report can be seen here.

March 18 – 24 is National Agriculture Week in Virginia. WESR & Coastal Country proudly partnered with the Eastern Shore’s Young Farmers to produce Ag Week messages that will air this week. We thank Farm Bureau, GroMark, Pep-Up, Mountaire Farms and Sharp Energy for sponsoring these messages.

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