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Record breaking year for Idaho agriculture

“The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture” annual report was releasedThursday and for the third consecutive year, Idaho Agriculture broke cash receipt and net income records.

As the economy struggles to come back, the agriculture industry was the bright spot in Idaho’s overall state economy.

The report’s co-author, Paul Patterson, said the record year was unexpected.

“We’ve had three consecutive years of record cash receipts and record net farm income, which is a little bit surprising,” said Patterson, an agricultural economist at Idaho State University.

The report was calculated on a calendar-year basis, not by crop year. The projected cash receipts from Idaho crops and livestock for farmers and ranchers set a record of $7.7 billion. That’s a gain of 5 percent or nearly $400 million from 2011 projections.

“Agricultural is not homogeneous, and at any time some sectors that are doing well and some sectors that are not doing so well but in general, Idaho agriculture is doing extremely well,” said Patterson.

The dairy industry was one of the sectors struggling with high feed costs.

“When prices go up for farmers some of that gets passed to consumers so on the consumer sideis seeing high prices for a number of products they buy in the supermarket,” said Patterson.

The dairy industry still generated record sales.

Milk rose, again, to one of Idaho agriculture top money leaders generating $2.4 billion. Idaho’s signature crop, the potato, had $957 million in sales.

“Idaho produces about 65 percent of the potatoes in the state. so when potatoes do well it certainly has a positive impact in eastern Idaho,” said Patterson.

The highest percentage increase of any commodity was barley with a 32 percentincrease in cash receipts.

Even with across-the-board increases in expenses for fuel, fertilizer, taxes and land rental, Idaho agriculture producers generated strong returns for 2012.

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