Ag farm gate

Ag farm gate

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
When it comes to farm income on a per capita basis, Idaho is the unchallenged leader in the West, far surpassing even agricultural juggernaut California.

Per capita farm income is derived by dividing a state’s total population by its total farm-gate receipts, which is the revenue farmers and ranchers receive for their commodity.

Based on data released by USDA Aug. 31, Idaho’s per capita farm income number in 2022 was $5,794.

To put it in simple terms, Idaho farmers and ranchers produced $5,794 worth of agricultural revenue for every Idahoan last year.

Of the 11 western states, Montana ranked second in that per capita farm income category at $3,939, followed by Wyoming at $3,296.

No other western state had more than $2,000 in per capita farm income in 2022 and California came in at a distant $1,434.

“This number shows agriculture is far more important to the average Idahoan than it is to people in the other western states,” said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Bryan Searle, who farms in East Idaho. “That number is astounding and proves how important agriculture is to Idaho’s economy.”

University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Brett Wilder, who crunched the per capita numbers, said it’s also worth noting that Idaho’s per capita farm income number increased at the same time that the state is leading the nation in population growth on a percentage basis.

Idaho’s per capita farm income number in 2021 was $4,392. The 2022 number of $5,794 represents a 32 percent increase.

“We are growing our ag economy faster than we’re growing our population,” Wilder said.

New Mexico ranked fourth among the 11 western states in per capital farm income ($1,755), followed by Colorado ($1,553), Washington ($1,547), Oregon ($1,466) and California ($1,434).

Utah was next at $795, Arizona came in at $702 and Nevada was at $293.

“When you look at how important agriculture is to the economy of the states in the West, it is just that much more important to everyone who lives in Idaho,” Wilder said. “It is a huge part of our economy.”

According to a University of Idaho study, agriculture is responsible for almost 13 percent of Idaho’s total gross state product, one in every eight jobs in the state and 18 percent of Idaho’s total economic output.

When it came to total farm-gate revenue, California brought in $55.9 billion in 2022, making that state No. 1 in the nation in that category.

In the West, Washington was second in total farm-gate revenue with $12 billion in 2022, followed by Idaho with $11.2 billion.

Colorado was fourth in the West with $9 billion, and followed by Oregon ($6.2 billion), Arizona ($5.2 billion), Montana ($4.4 billion), New Mexico ($3.7 billion), Utah ($2.7 billion), Wyoming ($1.9 billion) and Nevada ($951 million).

According to the USDA farm income data released Aug. 31, $6.86 billion of Idaho’s total farm revenue in 2022 came from the livestock sector and $4.38 billion came from the crop sector.

Idaho’s dairy sector was the state’s top agricultural commodity in 2022 in terms of farm-gate revenue, according to the USDA data. The state’s dairy operations brought in $4.3 billion in farm-gate revenue last year.

The state’s cattle and calves sector brought in $2.25 billion in 2022, ranking cattle as Idaho’s No. 2 ag commodity.

Idaho’s iconic potato sector remained the state’s top crop, bringing in $1.2 billion in farm-gate receipts in 2022.

The state’s hay farmers brought in $776 million in farm-gate revenue in 2022, Idaho wheat farmers brought in $622 million, sugar beet farmers brought in $404 million and barley farmers brought in $331 million.

Total farm-gate revenue in 2022 for other Idaho ag commodities: corn ($150 million), chicken eggs ($140 million), onions ($123 million), hops ($93 million), dry beans ($69 million), trout ($43 million), mint ($27 million), hogs ($27 million), floriculture ($21 million).

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