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Idaho ag sets records for total revenue, net income


By SEAN ELLIS


Capital Press


BOISE -- Idaho agriculture set records for total farm-gate receipts and net farm income in 2012, but not all sectors of the state's farming economy had a good year.


Cash receipts from the sale of Idaho crops and livestock in 2012 are projected to be $7.72 billion, a 5 percent increase over the 2011 record of $7.33 billion.


Despite an 8 percent increase in expenses, which reached a record $6.13 billion, net farm income for Idaho farmers and ranchers is projected to be a record $2.57 billion, 5 percent more than in 2011.


While some sectors aren't faring as well as others, "Overall, the balance sheet is pretty good," John Foltz, interim dean of University of Idaho's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, told lawmakers.


The numbers, based on sales during the calendar year, are contained in the university's annual "Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture" report.


Six of the state's major ag commodities -- milk, cattle and calves, potatoes, wheat, barley and dry beans -- set records for cash receipts.


Milk remained Idaho's top agricultural commodity for the ninth straight year with $2.45 billion in cash receipts, up $12 million from 2011. Production was up 2 percent but prices averaged 2 percent lower.


With prices averaging 19 percent more, cattle and calves retained its No. 2 ranking with $1.72 billion, a 25 percent increase.


Potatoes remain the state's highest-value crop with $957 million in revenue, up 4 percent from 2011. Production was up 11 percent but prices averaged 9.5 percent lower.


Despite a 16 percent reduction in production, wheat revenue reached $796 million, up 4 percent, because of higher prices.


Barley revenue increased 32 percent to $306 million and dry bean revenue rose 27 percent to $92 million.


Hay, at $526 million, was down 12 percent from its 2011 record due to decreased production, as were onions, which decreased 7 percent to $44 million.


Sugar beet revenues declined 10 percent to $355 million because beet prices were 15 percent lower than last year's record prices.


The increase in expenses hit some sectors harder than others. Manufactured inputs rose 5 percent over 2011 and farm origin inputs rose 13 percent.


The 13 percent rise in farm origin inputs such as hay had a major impact on the livestock sector, said UI ag economist Paul Patterson, one of the report's authors.


"In spite of a new record for milk receipts, the dairy industry is struggling with high feed costs and high debt levels," he said.


The record cash receipts for the potato industry came mostly from the 2011 crop, he added, and fresh market prices currently cover only about half of production costs.


Some areas of Idaho agriculture had a great year, but others did not, said Lt. Gov. Brad Little, a farmer and rancher.


"If you have two farmers right next to each other, one of them might be having his best year ever and his neighbor might be having a terrible year," he said.



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