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Federal payments to Idaho farmers drop 41 percent

By: Sean Ellis
Published in Blog on  January 13, 2022

Total federal government payments to Idaho farmers and ranchers dropped 41 percent in 2021 compared with 2020.

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

BOISE – Total federal government payments to Idaho farmers and ranchers dropped 41 percent in 2021 compared with 2020.

Government payments to U.S. farmers and ranchers increased substantially in 2020 due to the financial assistance provided to agricultural producers through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

That money was approved by Congress to assist farmers and ranchers that were impacted financially by the government-ordered shutdowns due to COVID-19.

Some of those payments carried over into the 2021 calendar year but for the most part, they decreased substantially last year compared with 2020. As a result, total federal government payments to ag producers around the nation decreased substantially last year.  

CFAP payments to Idaho ag producers totaled $337 million in 2021, which was half of what they were the previous year.  

Total federal government payments to Idaho farmers and ranchers in 2021 are estimated at $488 million, which is 41 percent lower than what they were in 2020.

Those estimates are provided in University of Idaho’s “Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2021” report, which was released to state lawmakers Jan. 6.

The CFAP payments were an anomaly and in a typical year, Idaho farmers and ranchers get a very small percentage – from 1 to 2 percent – of their total farm income from federal government payments.

For example, in 2018 and 2019, according to the Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture reports for those calendar years, government payments to Idaho ag producers totaled about $180 million, and in 2014 and 2015, they totaled about $90 million.

On average, U.S. farmers and ranchers get a much higher percentage of their overall farm income from federal government payments.

“Idaho farmers don’t farm the government,” U of I Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor regularly reminds Idaho lawmakers when he presents the Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture report each year.

This year’s report estimated Idaho farmers and ranchers received 0.7 percent of total federal government payments to U.S. ag producers in 2021.

CFAP payments accounted for 69 percent of total federal government payments to Idaho ag producers in 2021.

Grain commodity program payments to Idaho farmers and ranchers in 2021 are estimated at $96 million by U of I economists, while conservation program payments are estimated at $29 million.

Disaster program payments to Idaho ag producers are estimated at $26 million in 2021, the highest total in the past decade. 

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