MOSCOW--From the University of Idaho, U of I Ag Economists are already studying the 2021 drought.
Professor Garth Taylor stands in a wheat field just off-campus. What are you seeing?
"This is a poor picture of the drought you're seeing is so lush and green. It's a beautiful wheat field," said Taylor.
"It's a poor representation because there are burned-up fields in parts of the Palouse. We just haven't had the rain here for a critical time of grain development. But around the state, we have some very bad places, far worse than the Palouse. In the Lewiston area, we are not going to have much of a grain harvest. It's just too late for maturing wheat in other parts of the state,"
HOW bad is drought?
"We have talked about this. When we talk about the drought we talk about its effect on Agriculture in the state. There's always a little bit of a paradox in the state. A little bit of drought is always good for some farmers in particular potato farmers. A reduction in the quantity of what we produce is offset by the increase in prices. That won't the case in wheat, but it is in some of the crops we grow here in Idaho," said Taylor.
How will drought affect Idaho's Ag economy?
"We could have another great Ag year. If we continue building it's all depending on milk prices. I hate to give it to the dairymen every year, putting the health of the Ag economy on the shoulders of the dairymen. That's the way it is, dairy constitutes well over a third of our cash receipts for the State of Idaho. I hate to put it all on milk prices but to be blunt that's what it is," said Taylor.
So where Idaho dairy goes, Idaho economy goes?
"Let's put it the other way. Where Dairy goes, the Idaho economy goes," said Taylor. I'll go out far enough and say that we will break last years records, maybe not without the Covid payment and stuff like that but we will break the records without Covid as long as dairy holds up with a $17 or $18 dollar price per hundredweight of milk," said Taylor.
Drought or no drought the Idaho Ag economy drives on.