Idaho farmers lead the West in per capita farm receipts

Idaho farmers generated far more farm cash receipts per Idahoan than any other Western state in 2016.

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

BOISE — Idaho remained in the No. 3 spot among the 11 Western states for total farm gate receipts last year, behind California and Washington.

But Idaho was unchallenged when it comes to farm cash receipts on a per capita basis, generating far more farm income per person than any other Western state.

“It shows how much our economy depends on agriculture vs. surrounding states,” said University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn, who compiles the rankings annually.

Eborn said the rankings are a way to show elected officials and other state leaders just how important the farm sector is to Idaho’s economy.

“Most people realize there is a lot of farming in Idaho but they probably don’t realize just how huge it is,” Eborn said.

Some people think agriculture is a dying industry, he said.

“Well, it’s not dying in Idaho,” he said. “A big part of our overall economy in Idaho depends on agriculture. It’s pretty much the foundation of our economy.”

Eborn also ranked all 50 U.S. states in terms of farm Gross Domestic Product as a percentage of each state’s total GDP and Idaho ranked fourth, behind the big ag states of South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

UI Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor said it’s worth noting those GDP rankings only include farm gate receipts and don’t include the economic activity generated by food processing and other agribusinesses, which play a major role in Idaho’s economy.

Taylor said the GDP and per capita rankings show that “farming affects peoples lives in the state of Idaho.”

The state rankings were based on USDA Economic Research Service numbers that became available for 2016 on Aug. 30.

California remained No. 1 with $45 billion in farm cash receipts in 2016, followed by Washington with $9.9 billion and Idaho with $7.1 billion.

On a per capita basis, Idaho generated $4,204 per person in farm cash receipts, while California produced $1,154 per person and Washington $1,354 per person.

Colorado ranked fourth last year in cash receipts with $6.3 billion and Oregon was fifth with $4.6 billion.

Arizona was sixth ($4.1 billion) and was followed by Montana ($3.7 billion), New Mexico ($2.9 billion), Utah ($1.7 billion), Wyoming ($1.4 billion) and Nevada ($596 million).

California also ranked first in net farm income in 2016 at $13.2 billion, followed by Washington ($3.2 billion), Idaho ($1.7 billion), Arizona ($1.4 billion), Colorado ($1.2 billion) and Oregon ($925 million).

New Mexico was seventh in net farm income ($797 million) and was followed by Montana ($748 million), Utah ($290 million), Wyoming ($146 million) and Nevada ($76 million).

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