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David Sparks Ph.d Importance of ag to Idaho
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: June 20, 2019

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Agriculture is critically important to Idaho’s economy, according to a recent University of Idaho Extension report. It is based on 2017 data and updates a previous report based on 2014 data. According to the report, “Economic Contribution of Idaho Agribusiness,” agriculture was directly and indirectly responsible for 123,100 jobs in 2017, or one in every eight jobs in the state.

Agribusiness, which includes crop and livestock production and the processing of agricultural products, also generated 13 percent of Idaho’s total gross state product in 2017. “We’re talking 13 percent of the state’s economy. That’s a significant sector of Idaho’s economy,” said the report’s author, Philip Watson, an associate professor in U of I’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The report, which was published in January and is based on several sources, including data from USDA and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, found agriculture was also responsible for $26.4 billion in sales or 18 percent of Idaho’s total economic output.

“By that measure, it makes agriculture the largest sector in the state of Idaho,” said U of I Agricultural Economist Garth Taylor. “That is an astounding number.” One in every $9 in wages paid in the state of Idaho can be attributed to agriculture, according to the report.

Agriculture’s impact on Idaho’s economy in 2017 actually decreased slightly from the previous report that was based on 2014 numbers. But Watson pointed out that 2014 was a record year for Idaho agriculture in terms of total farm cash receipts and it was anticipated that agriculture’s impact, on a percentage basis, would be down a little.

Idaho farmers and ranchers brought in a record $8.8 billion in farm cash receipts in 2014 but that number dropped to $7.2 billion in 2017. Total net farm income in Idaho was $2 billion in 2014 but $1.23 billion in 2014. “The impact is down slightly from that high in 2014 but agriculture is still a very big player in Idaho’s economy, that’s for sure,” Watson said.

In calculating how important different sectors are to the state’s economy, Watson attributed every dollar generated in state GSP to a specific sector, so there was no double counting. For comparison’s sake, technology manufacturing, which includes computers, electronic equipment and other electronics, accounted for 7 percent of Idaho’s total GSP.

Agriculture’s total impact on the state’s economy includes its indirect impacts on other sectors. For example, it would include the sale of a tire tractor to a wheat producer. “There are lots of segments of Idaho’s economy that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t have agriculture,” Watson said. Taylor said that every industry sector has indirect “multiplier” effects on the economy but the indirect impacts from agriculture are bigger because almost all the food produced in Idaho is exported to other states or nations.

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