Oysters are big business for Virginia agriculture

WASHINGTON — November is Virginia Oyster Month, drawing attention to Virginia’s growing oyster-production industry.

Last year, Virginia sold more than 40 million oysters from its eight oyster regions, producing the largest quantity of fresh, farm-raised oysters in the country.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture says the dockside value of the oyster harvest was $35.8 million in 2016, up from $28 million in 2014.

“Virginia’s oysters are the most rapidly developing sector of Virginia’s shellfish aquaculture,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Basil Gooden.

“The oyster industry is a thriving and growing part of the new Virginia economy, and an industry that distinguishes Virginia from our competition along the East Coast,” Gooden said.

Oysters are also becoming a tourist attraction in the commonwealth.

In 2015, Virginia launched the Virginia Oyster Trial that connects travelers to oyster purveyors, raw bars and restaurants, and the waterman culture from the Northern Neck to the Middle Peninsula and the Eastern Shore.

The Virginia Oyster Trial connects to more than 100 sites.

Oyster-related events this month included the Nov. 3-4 Urbanna Oyster Festival’s 60th anniversary, which is considered the Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

You can read more about the Virginia Oyster Trial and see a list of this month’s oyster events here.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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