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The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture


“I’m Garth Taylor at the University of Idaho and I’m going to talk to you a little bit about Idaho Financial conditions for the year 2021.”

Every year the University of Idaho puts together a report about the financial condition of Idaho agriculture. Ag Economist Garth Taylor makes a presentation to Idaho legislators, so they can use that information when setting the state’s budget.

“It speaks to what agriculture is in the state of Idaho. We’re big, but we’re also growing.”

Taylor says Idaho’s Ag economy is growing at a faster rate than the rest of Idaho’s economy.

“It’s production agriculture, it’s grandma and grandpa on the tractor. It’s the farmers, not your processors. It’s your farmers that are growing faster than the state’s economy, that a phenomenon.”

That despite all the difficulties of the past year.

“Just go through the list, drought, covid, supply chains, export disruptions, government payments. Just tick them off, any one of these things would upset any other… (Industry) The resilience of Idaho agriculture is manifest this year in every facet of possible conditions, to where we broke all time record highs in cash receipts.”

2021 gross livestock and crop cash receipts are estimated at 8.8 billion dollars, 9% higher than in 2020.

However, the estimate for net farm income for 2021 is down 8% from 2020, at $2.39 billion.

While it’s a decrease, it’s still the third highest in the past ten years. Taylor says the decrease is due largely to higher operating expenses and lower federal government payments.

Were also, the third characteristic, we’re also extremely volatile. Ag’s extremely volatile. The fourth thing that you really want to know about this is that volatility does not transmit into the local economies.”

That’s because even though ag markets can have huge fluctuations, producers still have to do things like employ people to work in their dairy or purchase fertilizer for their crops, regardless of whether prices are up or down.

Another bright spot was exports.

“This year we had record exports from the state, and over 25% of that is agriculture exports.”

“Our biggest trading partners are Canada and Mexico.”

“And we produce a lot of wheat and a lot of dried milk goes out of the United States to these export markets.”

“In the long run, Paul what you’re going to see, the health of agriculture in the State of Idaho is going to be dependent on the strength of the export market.”

Taylor said he expects and increase in beef exports in the future.

“Beef in China is becoming the number one protein. It’s surpassing pork, and it’s becoming the big thing that we’re going to export to China.”

 And looking ahead to next year?

“The calendar year in 2022, Oh! It’s ugly. Expenses, we cannot even buy Round-Up now. It’s not available. Fertilizer, we’re looking at… some farmers are telling me often prices are 2 or 300 dollars an acre to cover these expenses.”

Despite that, he says this year has shown the resilience of Idaho Agriculture.

“In a year like this, Paul when every possible thing that could go wrong with Idaho agriculture did go wrong… and yet broke records.”

For the Voice of Idaho Agriculture, I’m Paul Boehlke.