2012 Projections Show Idaho Farmers, Ranchers Post Strong Year Financially

Thursday, January 3 2013


MOSCOW, Idaho – The year 2012 was a year to celebrate for Idaho agriculture, according to the “Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2012” report by University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences economists.


Projected cash receipts from Idaho crops and livestock for farmers and ranchers set a record of $7.7 billion. That is a gain of 5 percent, nearly $400 million, from 2011 projections. Idaho ranks as the West’s fourth largest agricultural state.


Net farm income also rose 5 percent, reflecting that strong crop and livestock prices outstripped the rising expenses agricultural producers faced in 2012.


“The report shows the strength of Idaho agriculture and its importance to the state,” said John Foltz, who recently was named interim dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.


An agricultural economist, Foltz discussed the report in Boise Thursday, Jan. 3, in a presentation to the Idaho Legislature’s Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee.


Report co-author Paul Patterson said he expects Idaho agriculture to face a number of challenges during 2013. Crop producers will experience a cost-price squeeze because of persistently high prices for inputs such as fertilizer and fuel they must buy but declining prices for commodities that they sell.


Of particular concern is the dairy sector that will continue to struggle with high feed costs, Patterson said. Higher milk prices during the first half of 2013 will improve margins, but higher milk prices are not expected to last.


Potato growers will also struggle in 2013, Patterson predicted. Fresh market potato prices will remain substantially below cost of production well into 2013.


Milk again rose to the top of Idaho agriculture’s money leaders, generating $2.4 billion. Idaho ranks third nationally in milk production, producing more than 1 billion pounds of milk monthly. The 2 percent increase in production in 2012 offset a 2 percent drop in prices to keep milk receipts essentially level.


Cattle and calf sales were strong, generating $1.7 billion. That total was some $350 million or 25 percent higher than in 2011.


Livestock receipts overall rose 8 percent to $4.3 billion and represented slightly more than half, 56 percent, of the state’s cash receipts. Crops generated $3.4 billion, a 2 percent increase.


Idaho’s top five crops included:


• Potatoes, Idaho’s signature crop, generated $957 million, a 4 percent increase.


• Wheat generated $796 million, a 4 percent increase.


• Hay generated $526 million, a 12 percent decline due mostly to a 4 percent drop in production caused by a cold, wet spring.


• Sugarbeets generated $355 million, a 10 percent decline, reflecting a price drop despite higher production.


• Barley generated $306 million, a 32 percent increase based on a bigger harvest and strong prices.


Idaho’s agricultural producers generated strong returns despite across-the-board increases in expenses for fuel, fertilizer, taxes, land rental and others.


While farm revenues from all sources rose to $8.7 billion, a 7 percent or $565 million increase from 2011 projections, expenses rose to $6.1 billion, up 8 percent or $436 million. Net farm income, the difference between revenues and expenses, totaled nearly $2.6 billion, a 5 percent increase from 2011.


The report is prepared annually by Ben Eborn, University of Idaho Extension Teton County agricultural extension educator at Driggs; Garth Taylor, economist in the college’s department of agricultural economics and rural sociology at Moscow, and Patterson, University of Idaho Extension agricultural economist at the Idaho Falls Research and Extension Center.


The report can be viewed online at http://projweb.cals.uidaho.edu/idahoagbiz/files/2013/01/financialcondition2012.pdf