BOISE — The total value of Idaho agricultural exports increased 12 percent through the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period last year, led by a large increase in dairy export value.
Many of the state’s main farm commodities drew higher prices in 2017 and above-average farm production last year carried over to 2017 as higher inventories, said Doug Robison, Northwest Farm Credit Services’ senior vice president for agriculture in Idaho.
“The combination of large inventories and better pricing are supporting strong export growth in 2017,” he told Capital Press in an email. “Farm production in 2017 has been near trend-line average and will support continued growth in exports, though at a slower pace, for the remainder of the year.”
Idaho ag exports totaled $607 million from January through September, up 12 percent from $543 million during the same period in 2016, according to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture data.
A weakening U.S. dollar was also a significant factor in the increase because it makes U.S. products more competitive in the global market, said University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor.
Idaho dairy product exports totaled $136 million through the third quarter, up 48 percent from $91 million during the same period last year.
Dairy accounted for 22 percent of Idaho’s total agricultural export value through September, up from 17 percent last year.
Exports included in the edible vegetable category increased 28 percent to $104 million through the third quarter but oilseed exports were down 16 percent to $79 million.
Canada remained the top destination for Idaho ag exports, as that nation purchased $166 million worth of Idaho farm products during the first nine months of 2017, a 10 percent increase over 2016.
Edible vegetable exports to Canada increased 9 percent to 30 million, prepared vegetable and fruit exports rose by 7 percent to $29 million and oilseed exports declined 21 percent to $28 million.
Idaho ag exports to Mexico declined by 5 percent to $119 million, but farm product exports increased 95 percent to South Korea ($47 million), 28 percent to China ($41 million), 20 percent to Japan ($35 million) and 133 percent to Australia ($17 million).
Most milk produced in the state is turned into cheese and Idaho cheese exports soared to some countries through the third quarter. Cheese exports to South Korea rose 143 percent to $41 million and they increased 2,892 percent to Australia ($8 million).
Idaho dairy exports to China increased 70 percent ($27 million).
Based on USDA data and calculations by University of Idaho ag economists, the value of Idaho ag exports equals about 25 percent of the state’s total farm cash receipts, according to Rita Du, an assistant professor in UI’s Department of Agricultural Economics.
Idaho ag export value set records each year from 2011-2014 before declining in 2015 and 2016.
“A lot of the fluctuation in (Idaho’s ag) export value, at least between 2010 and 2016, is coming from price fluctuations rather than export quantity fluctuations,” Due told Capital Press in an email.