By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
POCATELLO – The total value of agricultural production in Idaho last year was up 3 percent over the previous year, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
NASS put total Idaho ag production value in 2017 at $7.49 billion, up from $7.29 billion in 2016.
It had decreased both in 2016 and 2015 compared with the previous years.
Total ag production value is probably going to be up again in 2018 as well, said University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn.
“It looks like overall, Idaho (farm production value) should be up slightly from last year but not a lot,” he said.
According to NASS, Idaho’s total crop production value in 2017 was $3.06 billion, up 1 percent from 2016, and livestock production in 2017 totaled $4.43 billion, up 4 percent.
The rankings of Idaho’s top five farm commodities by value of production remained unchanged in 2017 compared with 2016.
Milk was again the state’s top farm commodity in terms of value of production at $2.52 billion in 2017, up 7 percent over 2016, and milk accounted for 34 percent of the state’s total agricultural value last year, up from 32 percent in 2016.
While milk generates a good chunk of the farm value in Idaho, the state’s dairy industry continues to face challenging milk prices, said University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor.
But even though milk prices are tough right now, the state’s dairy industry continues to increase production, which is why total dairy value increased last year, he said.
“Milk prices are tough right now, but those dairy people have not turned off the production spigot,” Taylor said. “They just have not found the off switch on production.”
The total production value of the state’s cattle and calves industry last year was $1.38 billion, down less than 1 percent from 2016, as Idaho’s beef industry remained in the No. 2 spot.
Potatoes remained at No. 3 with $975 million in total value in 2017, up slightly from $968 million in 2016.
Hay stayed in the fourth spot with $718 million worth of production, up 7 percent from 2016, and wheat remained in the No. 5 spot at $426 million, up 1 percent.
The value of production report differs slightly from farm cash receipts rankings because the value of production rankings include those parts of a crop that are used on the farm and not sold. For example, a lot of hay is used on the farm and wheat ranks ahead of hay in farm cash receipts.
The state’s top five farm commodities in 2017 had a combined value of $6.01 billion, which accounted for 80 percent of the state’s total farm production value, the same as in 2016.
Sugar beets passed barley to nab the No. 6 spot in value of production last year with $305 million, up a third of a percent over 2016.
Barley production value was put at $230 million in 2017, down 29 percent from 2016’s $322 million total. That decrease was due mainly to a large decrease in barley acres in Idaho last year, although barley acreage in the state did rebound this year.
Corn for grain remained at No. 8 with $99 million in production value in 2017, a 19 percent increase over 2016. Corn for grain value in Idaho had increased by 23 percent in 2016 compared with 2015.
The production value of dry edible beans, which include chickpeas, totaled $83 million in 2017, up 16 percent over 2016.
Hops, which remained in the No. 10 spot with $69 million in production value, had the biggest percentage increase at 35 percent.
Hops had a 66 percent increase in production value in 2016 compared with 2015 and last year entered Idaho’s top 10 for the first time.
From 2015 to 2017, the value of Idaho hop production has increased from $31 million to $51 million to $69 million as acres have expanded rapidly. Idaho bumped Oregon last year to become the nation’s No. 2 hop producing state.
Idaho commodities outside of the top 10 that declined in value last year include peppermint oil, down 12 percent to $29.6 million, lentils, down 44 percent to $8.8 million, and apples, down 15 percent to $8.15 million.
The NASS report shows that Idaho ranked No. 1 in the nation in four farm commodities last year (potatoes, barley, trout and Austrian winter peas) and No. 2 in five commodities (hops, sugar beets, alfalfa hay, peppermint oil and wrinkled seed peas).
Idaho ranked third in cheese production, fourth in milk production, dry onions, lentils and spring wheat, and fifth in dry edible beans.