BOISE — The value of Idaho agricultural exports increased 10 percent in 2017, reversing a two-year slide.
Idaho exported $827 worth of farm products to other nations last year, up from $750 million in 2016, according to Idaho State Department of Agriculture data.
The state set records for ag exports from 2011 through 2014 but experienced declines in both 2015 and 2016. The 2017 total is still well below the record of $1 billion set in 2014 and in line with 2015’s $828 million total.
The 2017 increase is a “result of improved pricing for most of our major commodities and large crop inventories carried over from the previous year,” said Doug Robison, Northwest Farm Credit Services’ senior vice president for agriculture in Western Idaho.
A generally weaker U.S. dollar last year was a major factor in the increase in ag exports, said Rita Du, an assistant professor in University of Idaho’s Department of Agricultural Economics.
“It makes U.S. export goods relatively cheaper, thus more competitive in the world market,” she told Capital Press in an email.
Last year’s increase in the state’s farm export value was due largely to a 28 percent increase in the dairy category, which totaled $180 million.
Du said the increased value of dairy exports was mainly due to an increase in volume.
Idaho dairy product exports increased 80 percent to South Korea, to $50 million, and they increased 71 percent to China ($38 million) and 870 percent to Australia ($14 million).
The outlook for Idaho ag exports in 2018 “is not as strong due to a weaker milk market, trend-line yields for most crops and soft pricing for many commodities,” Robison said. “A weaker U.S. dollar will provide support for Idaho exports in 2018, though at a pace well below the 10 percent increase seen this year.”
More than $215 million worth of Idaho ag products were sold in Canada in 2017, a 15 percent increase over 2016, making that nation the top destination for Idaho farm products last year.
Idaho farm companies sold $38 million worth of products listed under the “prepared vegetables and fruits” category to Canada, a 7 percent increase over 2016, and $15 million worth of live animals, almost all of them cattle, were sold to Canada last year, a 677 percent increase.
Oilseed exports to Canada dropped 24 percent, to $30 million.
Mexico remained the No. 2 destination for Idaho ag products at $169 million, but that total was down 4 percent from 2016.
Although Idaho malt ($77 million) and oilseed ($27 million) exports to Mexico increased 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively, Gem State dairy exports to that nation declined 22 percent to $26 million. Sales of prepared vegetables and fruits to Mexico decreased 47 percent, to $16 million.
Idaho farm product exports to China increased 35 percent, to $62 million, and they increased 59 percent to South Korea ($56 million) and 23 percent to Japan ($46 million).