BOISE — The total value of Idaho agricultural exports increased 11 percent during the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
That is the second straight quarterly increase — Idaho ag export value increased 1.3 percent during the first quarter — following two years of quarterly declines.
The total value of Idaho farm product exports during the second quarter was $420 million, an 11 percent increase over last year’s $378 million total for that same April-June period.
The increase was led by a surge in dairy exports, which jumped 62 percent to $91 million, according to the state Department of Agriculture data that is based on quarterly Census Bureau statistics.
Higher milk prices were a big factor in that increase, Doug Robison, Northwest Farm Credit Service’s vice president of agriculture for Western Idaho, told Capital Press in an email.
Idaho milk production was relatively flat during the first half of the year, a result of the difficult winter, he said.
“However, the value of milk production increased substantially over 2016, with Class III milk prices averaging $16.12 per (hundredweight), up by nearly 20 percent vs. the same period a year ago,” Robison said.
He said 2016 was an impressive year for yields in many Idaho crops.
“This resulted in above-average inventories that have been marketed in the first half of 2017, further supporting the increase in ag exports from Idaho,” he said.
A weaker U.S. dollar also contributed to the upswing in Idaho ag exports, said University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor.
“The dollar has been getting a little weaker and that makes our exports cheaper,” he said.
A surprising uptick in economic activity in other nations is another factor, Taylor said.
Under the dairy category, the value of Idaho cheese exports jumped 110 percent to $43 million during the second quarter. A dairy category that includes mostly whey products increased 18 percent to $30 million.
Idaho dairy product exports to South Korea soared 132 percent to $29 million in the second quarter. They increased 95 percent to $18 million to China.
Idaho exports of edible vegetables increased 27 percent to $81 million during that period but oilseed exports decreased 22 percent ($57 million) and farm products included under the “milling products, malt and starch” category dropped 1.4 percent to $44 million.
Canada was the top destination for Idaho farm exports during the second quarter at $125 million, a 6 percent increase. Mexico was second at $76 million, a 3 percent decrease, and South Korea was third at $32 million, a 93 percent increase.
The overall increase in Idaho agricultural exports is a great sign for the state’s farm economy, which is heavily dependent on export markets, Taylor said.
“We can’t eat all the potatoes or cheese we produce in Idaho,” he said. “Exports are such a fundamental part of Idaho agriculture.”