The strength of Idaho’s livestock sector lifted the state to a No. 2 ranking in total net farm income among the 11 Western states in 2013.
Idaho outpaced No. 3 Washington despite trailing that state by $1.6 billion in total farm cash receipts in 2013 and was unchallenged when it came to agricultural production on a per capita basis.
California easily ranked No. 1 in cash receipts at $47 billion and net income at $10.14 billion in 2013.
The rankings were compiled by University of Idaho agricultural economist Ben Eborn and are based on U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service data that recently became available for 2013.
Idaho farmers and ranchers brought in a total of $3.11 billion in net farm income in 2013 while Washington producers earned $3.01 billion.
During that year, Idaho agriculture recorded $8.4 billion in total farm gate receipts while Washington’s farming sector had $10 billion.
“We’re growing some crops and livestock commodities that have higher margins than what they are growing in Washington,” said UI ag economist Garth Taylor.
The big difference between the two states was a stellar performance by Idaho’s livestock sector, which accounted for well over half of the state’s total farm receipts, he said. Crops accounted for the vast majority of Washington’s farm receipts.
Milk and beef are Idaho’s top two farm commodities in terms of total cash receipts, and both had high prices in 2013, Taylor said.
“Those are the hot commodities in the U.S. right now and we are expressing our comparative advantage in those commodities,” he said.
Idaho will retain its No. 2 ranking for net farm income in 2014 because beef and milk prices remained at record or near-record prices this year, Eborn said.
“Both milk and cattle prices are sky high (this year),” he said. “In 2014, Idaho will be even further ahead because it was such an amazing year for livestock.”
When it comes to agricultural production on a per capita basis, Idaho stands alone in the West. Idaho’s per capita ag production in 2013 worked out to $5,250, well ahead of No. 2 Montana at $4,200. No other state was even close.
Eborn said the rankings and the per capita number in particular are strong reminders to Idaho policy makers how important the farming sector is to the state’s economic health.
In total cash receipts, Colorado ranked fourth in 2013 with $7.2 billion, Oregon was fifth with $4.7 billion, Arizona was sixth with $4.4 billion, Montana was seventh with $4.2 billion, New Mexico was eighth with $3.8 billion, Utah was ninth with $1.8 billion, Wyoming was 10th with $1.7 billion and Nevada was 11th with $800 million.
Montana ranked fourth in net farm income at $2.14 billion, followed by Colorado at $1.81 billion, New Mexico at $1.42 billion, Arizona at $1.41 billion, Oregon at $1.04 billion, Utah at $460 million, Wyoming at $390 million and Nevada at $180 million.