BOISE — The total value of Idaho agricultural production decreased 6 percent last year compared to 2015 and it was down 18 percent compared to 2014.

But farm economists expect a slight increase in 2017.

Idaho agricultural production totaled $7.25 billion in 2016, down from $7.75 billion in 2015 and $8.8 billion in 2014, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

While the value of milk, Idaho’s top farm commodity, increased 0.2 percent to $2.36 billion in 2016, the value of several other of the state’s main farm commodities was down, some significantly.

The value of cattle and calves fell 17 percent last year to $1.39 billion, hay production was valued at $674 million, also down 17 percent, and wheat value was down 6 percent to $422 million.

The value of potato production increased 6 percent to $968 million, and spuds remained the state’s highest valued field crop.

Barley production was down 2 percent to $322 million and sugar beet production was up slightly at $301 million.

Hops entered the top 10 of Idaho farm commodities for the first time and in a big way. NASS valued Idaho hop production at $51 million in 2016, up 66 percent from 2015 and 168 percent from 2014.

“Idaho has made a big move in hops,” said University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor. “The strength of the hops market has had an amazing effect on Idaho.”

Corn for grain production was valued at $84 million, a 23 percent increase over 2015, and jumped one spot to No. 8.

“The growth in Idaho’s grain corn production was significant in 2016, largely due to supportive weather conditions resulting in a bumper crop of corn...,” Doug Robison, Northwest Farm Credit Services’ senior vice president for agriculture in Western Idaho, told Capital Press in an email.

Dry edible beans, which include chickpeas, took the No. 9 spot with $69 million in production, down less than a percent.

Onions dropped out of the top 10 last year with $28 million in production, a 44 percent decrease.

With the price of many of Idaho’s main farm commodities up slightly in 2017, agricultural economists expect Idaho farm production value to rise this year.

“The value of Idaho’s ag commodities will increase in 2017,” Robison said. “While producer margins and profitability remain a challenge in many industries, the prices for most of Idaho’s ag commodities have been higher in 2017 than the previous two years.”

Taylor believes Idaho ag production value will be up slightly to unchanged this year and UI Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn believes it will be up slightly.

Eborn said a highlight of the NASS report was that 15 Idaho farm commodities rank in the top five nationally.

That includes five at No. 1 (potatoes, trout, barley, peppermint oil and Austrian winter peas), three at No. 2 (sugar beets, alfalfa hay and wrinkled seed peas) and two at No. 3 (cheese and hops).

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