Idaho set a record for ag export value in 2021
By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
POCATELLO – For the second straight year, Idaho set a record for total agricultural export value in 2021.
According to recently released USDA data, a total of $2.55 billion worth of agricultural products from Idaho were exported to other countries last year.
That was a 9 percent increase over the 2020 total of $2.34 billion, which was also a record at the time.
University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor pointed out the increase came despite the fact Idaho and U.S. producers face a significant headwind in the form of a strong U.S. dollar, which makes domestic products less competitive in the global marketplace.
“We have a super-strong dollar against a lot of currencies and that’s a monster headwind,” he said.
Drought, supply chain disruptions, ongoing West Coast port issues and rapidly rising input costs are also major headwinds for Idaho farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses, Taylor said.
“It’s truly amazing that we’ve bucked those headwinds,” he said.
While the total value of Idaho ag exports increased by 9 percent in 2020, that increase lagged the 18 percent increase in total U.S. agricultural export value last year, pointed out Doug Robison, the Idaho president for Northwest Farm Credit Services.
The total value of U.S. agricultural exports reached a record $173 billion in 2021, up from $147 billion in 2020. The previous U.S. record was $150 billion in 2014.
A lot of the Idaho increase in total ag export value in 2021 had to do with substantially higher commodity prices.
But not all of it.
“I think it largely had to do with price but we couldn’t hit that type of number without a big chunk of quantity, too,” Taylor said.
Dairy was the state’s top agricultural commodity in 2021 in terms of total export value, as a record $558 million worth of dairy products from Idaho were sold to other nations last year. That was a 17 percent increase over the previous record of $476 million set in 2020.
Idaho beef product exports totaled a record $241 million in 2021, a 26 percent increase over 2020 and 12 percent more than the previous record of $215 million set in 2018.
Idaho in 2021 exported a record $349 million worth of products in the processed vegetables category, which includes frozen potato products. That was a 21 percent increase over 2020 and 7 percent more than the previous record for that category of $325 million set in 2019.
Idaho in 2021 exported a record $173 million worth of products in the fresh vegetable category, which includes potatoes. That was up 16 percent from 2020 and 2 percent more than the previous record of $170 million set in 2019.
Idaho grain product exports were down in value in 2021, likely a result of the significantly reduced grain yields experienced in the state last year due to severe drought conditions.
Idaho wheat exports were valued at $344 million in 2021, down 11 percent from 2020 and well off the record of $563 million set in 2011.
Idaho exported $60 million worth of products in the processed grain category last year, down 23 percent from 2020.
A record $1.63 billion worth of plant products were exported from Idaho in 2021, a 3 percent increase over 2020, and a record $918 million worth of animal products were exported from the state in 2021, up 22 percent over 2020.
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