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Economists predict stable Idaho ag income in 2014

Sean Ellis
Total net farm income in Idaho should remain stable this year compared with 2013, according to Idaho ag economists. USDA is projecting farm income in the United States will drop by about 27 percent this year.

BOISE — Regional ag economists project that total farm income in Idaho will remain stable in 2014 despite USDA’s estimates that net farm income in the United States will drop 27 percent in 2014.

USDA’s Economic Research Service forecasts that net U.S. farm income will total $95.8 billion this year, a 26.6 percent decrease from 2013’s $130.5 billion total.

There’s no way that kind of drop-off in farm income will happen in Idaho, according to University of Idaho economists.

“It’s not going to happen in Idaho,” said Garth Taylor, an ag economist with UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “I think Idaho farm income this year will be about even with 2013 and maybe even a little bit up.”

CALS Dean John Foltz told lawmakers this year that Idaho’s commodity mix is different than other states and Idaho farmers also benefit from a strong export market.

Idaho ag exports have set records for three straight years.

CALS economists estimate net farm income in Idaho totaled $2.733 billion last year, just below the record $2.745 million mark set in 2012, and Foltz believes the 2014 total won’t be much different.

“We think Idaho agricultural income is going to be about unchanged for this next year,” said Foltz, an agricultural economist.

While USDA’s projections are based largely on prices for crops like corn, soybeans and wheat, Taylor said, dairy and beef cattle are Idaho’s main farm commodities when it comes to cash receipts and prices for both are near or at record levels.

More than a third of Idaho’s total farm-gate receipts come from dairy and more than half come from the dairy and beef sectors combined.

“USDA’s projections are based more on other major crops like corn, soybeans and wheat,” Taylor said. “Ours are based upon cows. The 900-pound gorilla in the state of Idaho when it comes to farm-gate cash receipts is dairy (and) we’ve had some really outstanding milk prices this year.”

Taylor and Foltz both said their forecast for stable net farm income in Idaho this year factors in an expected $50 million decline in government payments to Idaho farmers this year.

UI economists estimate that federal government payments to Idaho agriculture totaled $105 million in 2013, a 17 percent decrease from 2012. Those payments accounted for only 3.9 percent of Idaho’s total net farm income.

The anticipated decline this year is based on changes made in the new farm bill, Taylor said.

“We can be pretty well assured … that it’s going to be down by about $50 million this year,” he said.



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