The Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station (VAES) on March 1, 1886, in anticipation of the Federal Hatch Act of 1887. This year marks the 125th Anniversary of the creation of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. Making research applicable to Virginia farmers is even more important today than it was 125 years ago. A robust research program has led to significant improvements in food quality and availability across the state and has been a key component of economic development and citizen wealth.

The Hatch Act allocated Federal funds to the State Agricultural Experiment Stations as part of the Land-grant higher education system, and the agricultural experiment stations were charged with conducting research or “experiments bearing directly on the agricultural industry.” Subsequent acts, and appropriations established programs in forestry, animal health and disease and Multistate Research.

The mission of VAES is to perform basic and applied research on agricultural, environmental, natural and community resource issues related to the future needs of Virginia, the region, the nation, and the world.

VAES supports research programs in a wide range of disciplines in projects located at Virginia Tech and across the Commonwealth, in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Education, and Extension Service, and other state and federal agencies.

The VAES was established at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and includes research laboratories on campus, agricultural facilities on and around the campus, and a network of 11 field research centers located at various sites around the state. These centers, known as Agricultural Research and Extension Centers (ARECs), enable agricultural innovations to be tested in real world applications across the state and provide learning opportunities for local farms and Extension Agents from Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE).

VAES performs research and outreach in areas ranging from livestock management, to ornamentals, field crops, wine production, seafood safety , biofuels and human health.

Research is designed to provide knowledge that will enhance the quality of individual and family life and the social and economic vigor of Virginia.

Researchers use scientific discoveries based on the best techniques of qualitative and quantitative analysis to address today’s most processing agricultural and environmental issues. More powerfully, the partnership between VAES and VCE creates a highly effective means for communicating and teaching new techniques with instant and lasting impact in local communities.

VAES serves the needs of Virginia's animal, plant, and seafood industries, and fosters conservation of natural resources. It also benefits consumers and all citizens of the state in rural, urban and suburban communities.

Discoveries resulting from VAES-supported research have facilitated economic development in the state and in the form of start-up companies located in Southwest Virginia.

The VAES is responsible for innovations including preferred seed varieties of soybeans, wheat and barley, new tobacco production efficiencies, disease detection improvement for peanuts and other crops, new information on beef production, new wine production information and many other important agricultural advances. These innovations have helped grow various segments of agriculture, the number one industry in Virginia. This research and support of the agricultural industry has lead to sustained economic growth.