The View From 116 State Street - July, 2015

By Chuck Ross, Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

Agricultural exports are a thriving aspect of our state’s economy. It is a story of incredible growth and promise for Vermont’s working landscape. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture, between 2010 and 2014 Vermont’s agricultural exports increased by 100 percent. You read that correctly: the data shows a steady increase and a doubling of export sales over the past five years. We actually almost couldn’t believe it ourselves when we first looked at the numbers, so we called in Dennis Lynch of Food Export-Northeast, an expert on national export data. He confirmed our analysis and described this growth as “on fire”. In fact, Vermont ranks number six in the country for growth in agricultural export sales.

Photo: Vermont’s Dairy Exports saw 100% growth from 2010-2014

It is worth calling out the dairy sector in particular, which is seeing incredible potential in the global marketplace. Dairy exports grew from $30.6 million in 2010 to $61.3 million in 2014 – 100% growth. Overall, Vermont exported $222.3 million worth of agricultural products in 2014. When you include forest products, this number increases to $315.9 million.

Our Agency sees the importance of exports in the agricultural economy, and has been working hard over the past five years to contribute to this growth. We work in collaboration with Food Export Northeast – a non-profit State Regional Trade Group based in Philadelphia – to offer a range of export enhancement services to agricultural and value-added food and beverage companies. Each year, Food Export-Northeast receives 9 million in USDA funding to help small businesses across the northeastern states increase export sales. Services offered include: exporter education, trade missions, buyer matchmaking at trade shows, and customized market research.  Financial assistance is also available for Vermont companies to help offset international marketing expenses as well as booth space at international (and some domestic) trade shows.

In 2014, we helped 45 Vermont companies to take advantage of this export assistance. These companies achieved over $8 million in actual sales as a result of their participation in our programs, and they anticipate additional sales of $22 million. 22 of these companies achieved first-time sales in new markets, 54 new distributorships were added, and 13 jobs were created. Impressive results.

We look forward to continuing to work with the state’s working lands businesses to meet global demand for Vermont’s high-quality products.