Published online: Jan 17, 2012 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Herbicide, Irrigation, Fertilizer, Insecticide, Fungicide, Seed Potatoes, Potato Equipment
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MOSCOW, Idaho-Idaho's growers and ranchers posted a record year in 2011, with a projected $7.4 billion in cash receipts, up 29 percent from the previous year, according to University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences economists.

Agricultural producers' net farm income fared even better, soaring 88 percent in 2011 from the past year to $2.6 billion, according to economists Ben Eborn, Paul Patterson and Garth Taylor. Their report, "The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2011 Projections," was published by University of Idaho Extension and released Jan. 5. The effort is supported by state Agricultural Research and Extension Service funding.

"This annual report shows the economic importance of Idaho agriculture to the state's economy," said John Hammel, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean.

"The state's investments in agriculture and in the college, University of Idaho Extension and the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station are essential to the state's crop and livestock producers who efficiently produce healthy, affordable food for Idaho's residents and world markets," Hammel added.

Agricultural producers benefitted from strong prices and production that combined to outpace rising fuel and fertilizer prices and other costs.

The 2011 farm year ranks as remarkable because both cash receipts and net income topped 1974 when valued in both inflation-adjusted or real dollars and today's "nominal" dollars. Cash receipts adjusted for inflation rose 68 percent above the 42-year average. Net farm income was 92 percent above the 10-year average.

Thursday in Boise, Hammel and Taylor outlined agriculture's economic performance and outlook for Idaho legislators who serve on the Joint Legislative Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee.

Nearly every crop and livestock sector posted strong gains in 2011, most of them records, Taylor said. USDA projections for 2012 and beyond say net farm income will likely decrease in the next several years due to falling commodity prices.
A weak dollar that helps U.S. agricultural exports, growing consumer demand in China, the new yogurt plant in Twin Falls and other factors will offset some challenges facing Idaho agriculture. But volatility in net farm income is the norm, the report said, noting, "In every one of the past 10 years, Idaho experienced double-digit swings in net farm income."
Potato sales led the way with $912 million, a 32 percent increase. Wheat followed with $766 million, a 42 percent increase. Hay sales ranked third with $665 in projected cash receipts, a 76 percent jump from 2010.
Other major crops included sugarbeets at $325 million, a 16 percent increase; barley at $232 million, a 15 percent increase; and dry beans at $73 million, a 14 percent increase. An assortment of other crops, including corn, brought in $253 million.
In terms of today's dollars, potato prices have risen 40 percent since 1970. In inflation-adjusted dollars, however, prices are 43 percent less today than in 1970. Growers' total revenues have risen 86 percent in today's dollars. In terms of inflation-adjusted dollars, however, growers eked out just a 3 percent increase in total revenues.
Idaho potato growers remained economically competitive because of major improvements in growing and storage methods, and the development of more efficient potato varieties, many tailored for specific markets by university researchers in cooperation with growers.
The report's authors include Ben Eborn, University of Idaho Extension educator in Teton County; Paul Patterson, Extension Agricultural Economist in Idaho Falls; and Garth Taylor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology economist at Moscow. All are faculty in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
The report is online at