Agriculture's statewide economic impact is on the rise, Bedford County contributes

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) Agriculture's impact on the state's economy is growing, up 30-percent in just the last three years.

This growth on the state level is reflected in our region. Agriculture and Forestry is still one of the biggest industries in Bedford County. To keep it thriving, more and more specialized farms are popping up.

"Farming now a days you've got to change with the times,” said Kenneth Newman, Managing member of Royal Oaks Farm.

Royal Oaks is the largest composting farm in Virginia.

"We can take everything from animal feed to human food waste and instead of it going to waste we can make a useful product,” said Newman.

Royal Oaks is a specialized farm. As farms are getting smaller, across Virginia these specialized agriculture and forestry operations are helping the industry grow.

The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at University of Virginia released a study revealing agriculture and forestry's state wide economic impact went from 70 billion dollars in 2013 to 90 billion dollars in 2016. That's a 30 percent increase.

It is the largest industry in the commonwealth and in Bedford County, it is also one of the largest.

According to the Economic Development Office, the county sees over 28 million dollars in annual farm sales. And this spans across a very diversified industry.

Economic Development Director Traci Blido says there are more than 14-hundred farms in Bedford County, covering 200-thousand acres of land.

"We have orchards, wineries, now craft breweries, but also the largest compost facility….Beef Cattle is huge,” said Blido.

Soil and compost from Royal Oaks is spread across the nation, including the athletic fields at Liberty University.

The farm's owner hopes demand for his product will remain strong.