Top 10

The total value of Idaho’s agricultural production increased in 2018, according to recently released USDA estimates.

POCATELLO — After declining in 2015 and 2016, the total value of agricultural production in Idaho has now increased for two straight years.

According to a recently released report by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the value of Idaho’s agricultural production totaled $7.69 billion in 2018, a 3 percent increase over 2017.

The total value of ag production in Idaho in 2017 was $7.49 billion, which was 1 percent more than the 2016 total.

Total ag production value in Idaho had decreased in both 2015 and 2016.

Last year’s increase in total ag value was due to a 7 percent increase in the value of Idaho’s crop production (from $3.01 billion to $3.26 billion), which was enough to offset a 1 percent decrease in the total value of livestock production (from $4.44 billion in 2017 to $4.43 billion).

University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor expects the total value of Idaho ag production will increase again, modestly, in 2019.

Milk is by far the state’s top farm commodity in terms of value of production, and milk prices have increased significantly this year compared with 2018.

“So much of the total is dependent on milk and we have had stronger milk prices this year,” Taylor said. “When you look at what milk has done this year, total ag production value should be up.”

The value of Idaho milk production totaled $2.38 billion in 2018, which was a 6 percent decrease from 2017. But milk represents about a third of the state’s total agricultural value and prices are up in 2019.

Idaho Dairymen’s Association Executive Director Rick Naerebout said Idaho milk prices and production are both up this year.

“We’ve seen a nice response in prices the last couple of months to the point where we’re back above break-even,” he said. “Dairy operations are not exactly raking in the dough but … it’s much better than it was this time last year.”

U of I Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn also anticipates total Idaho ag production value will be up this year.

“I think we’ll be a little bit higher this year, mostly because of milk,” he said.

Eborn anticipates dairy production value will be up in 2019, along with hay and maybe grain. The total value of cattle and calf production will likely be down this year, he added.

How potato production value in Idaho will fare this year is unclear at this point, he said, due to the as-yet unknown impact that an early October cold snap had on the state’s spud crop.

The top eight Idaho commodities in terms of production value remained unchanged in 2018.

Following milk, the value of cattle and calves in Idaho totaled $1.4 billion in 2018, up 2 percent from 2017. Potato production value was $1.03 billion, a 5 percent increase, hay value totaled $773 million, an 8 percent increase, and wheat value, at $539 million, was up 26 percent.

Sugar beets came in at No. 6 with $288 million in production value last year, a 10 percent increase; barley production value totaled $269 million, a 17 percent increase; and corn for grain production value rose 30 percent to $128 million. Hops jumped two spots to No. 9 with $86 million in production value, a 22 percent increase compared with 2017.

Dry beans dropped from No. 9 to No. 10 with $73 million in production value, an 8 percent decrease.

Major Idaho farm commodities outside of the top 10 that declined in value of production last year include onions, which decreased 34 percent to $49 million; food trout, down 20 percent to $40 million; and honey, down 22 percent to $6 million.

The production value rankings differ somewhat from rankings that are based on total farm cash receipts, which is what the farmer or rancher receives for their commodity when it’s sold.

Value of production includes commodities, such as hay, that are used on the farm and not sold. That’s why wheat is ahead of hay in the farm cash receipts rankings but trails that commodity in the value of production rankings.

Eborn said one of the things that stood out in the 2018 production value data was the rapid rise of corn for grain production value in Idaho.

Total production value of grain corn in Idaho increased 54 percent in two years, from $83 million in 2016 to $128 million in 2018.

“Corn acres in Idaho just keep going up and up,” Eborn said.

Idaho hop production value has also increased rapidly, from $31 million in 2015 to $86 million in 2018, a 177 percent increase.

The NASS report also shows that Idaho ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in five farm commodities last year (potatoes, barley, peppermint oil, trout and alfalfa hay), and No. 2 in three commodities (sugar beets, hops and wrinkled seed peas).

The state ranked No. 3 in Austrian winter peas, milk and cheese, No. 4 in dry onions, lentils, spring wheat and total milk cows, and No. 5 in canola and all wheat. Idaho ranked No. 6 in three commodities (corn silage, winter wheat and dry edible peas) No. 7 in dry edible beans and sheep and lambs, No. 8 in wool, No. 9 in all hay and No. 10 in all haylage.