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Idaho ag exports set record for fourth straight year

Idaho set another record for total agricultural exports in 2014, despite a slowdown in sales of dairy products, which are the state's top farm export.
Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Published on February 16, 2015 11:30AM

Mint is harvested in a field near Nampa, Idaho, Aug. 11. Idaho ag exports topped the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2014 and set a record for the fourth straight year.

Sean Ellis/Capital Press

Mint is harvested in a field near Nampa, Idaho, Aug. 11. Idaho ag exports topped the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2014 and set a record for the fourth straight year.

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BOISE — The value of Idaho agricultural exports set a record for the fourth straight year in 2014 and exceeded the $1 billion mark for the first time.

That happened despite a significant slowdown in dairy exports during the second half of the year. Dairy sales account for a third of all Idaho ag exports.

The stronger U.S. dollar and West Coast port disruptions also affected Idaho ag exports, said Laura Johnson, who manages the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s market development Division, which released the export data.

Despite those factors, Idaho ag exports in 2014 totaled $1.02 billion, a 4.3 percent increase over the 2013 total.

Idaho dairy exports reached a record $353 million in 2014 but slowed significantly during the latter part of the year.

According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the total value of U.S. dairy exports increased 6 percent in 2014 to a record $7.1 billion.

But U.S. dairy export volume declined 8 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2013 and U.S. dairy exports by volume finished the year with five straight months of negative performance compared with 2013.

USDEC Vice President of Communications Alan Levitt told the Capital Press in an email that U.S. dairy exports in 2015 are expected to be below 2014 levels due to more challenging world conditions.

Cheese exports are expected to be down 5 to 10 percent, he said, butter could be down by as much as 60 to 70 percent and whey and lactose are expected to be flat.

The world market is softer this year because of heavy supply from Europe and New Zealand and decreased demand from China and Russia, Levitt said.

“As a result, world prices are much lower this year, which creates more competitive pressure for the United States,” he said.

Miscellaneous grain and seed was Idaho’s No. 2 ag export category in 2014 with $135 million in sales, a 5.7 percent increase over 2013. That category was led by vegetable seed sales of $44 million, rapeseed at $36 million and alfalfa seed at $13 million.

Idaho vegetable exports totaled $130 million, 3 percent more than the 2013 total. That category was led by kidney bean sales of $22.7 million and green pea sales of $22.2 million.

The totals are based on Census Bureau data calculated for the ISDA by Global Trade Information Services. The data, which is released quarterly, is based on the zip code of the exporter of record and doesn’t capture a lot of Idaho farm products, such as wheat, that are shipped to other states before being exported abroad.

A different set of data by the USDA’s Economic Research Service that is released annually analyzes the same Census Bureau data and attempts to overcome the issue of other states getting credit for Idaho products, Johnson said.

The USDA total is higher, she said, but is more than a year behind and doesn’t include country of destination or detailed product categories like the GTIS data does.


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