U of I Annual Economic Analysis: Sugarbeets Sweet Spot

Published online: Jan 07, 2010 University of Idaho
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Idaho agriculture's projected cash receipts for 2009 dropped 17 percent to $5.4 billion from 2008, the largest single-year decline in more than 40 years. A tough year for Idaho's dairy, livestock and some key crop sectors determined the industry's overall performance. The annual economic analysis, "The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2009 Projections," was released Wednesday by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. John Hammel, the college's dean, presented the analysis to the Joint Legislative Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 at Boise. "Agriculture as a diverse industry is a strong stabilizing force in Idaho's overall economy while individual growers experience volatility in the commodity market prices and increasing costs of inputs, both factors that affect their net incomes," Hammel said. The numbers reveal a key factor that contributes to the agricultural industry overall stability, said report co-author Garth Taylor, an economist in the UI Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Moscow. "To me it shows how mobile farmers are," Taylor said. "They'll shift around and grow different crops to respond to market conditions. Sugarbeets were a prime example of that during 2009," he said. Higher cash receipts for sugarbeets, barley, potatoes, onions, and greenhouse and nursery crops helped stabilize agriculture's overall performance during a dramatic downturn for its livestock industry. Crops generated more cash, $2.745 billion compared to livestock's $2.610 billion, for the first time since 2000. Livestock receipts dropped 23 percent, led by a decline in milk receipts fall from $2.1 billion to $1.4 billion or one third. Cattle and calves declined 8 percent or $98 million to $1.085 billion. Sugarbeets provided the 2009's sweet spot for Idaho growers, who harvested 47,000 more acres, produced 55 percent more sugarbeets and enjoyed an 11 percent average price increase. Those factors boosted sugarbeet receipts to $252 million, a 72 percent increase from the previous year. The annual report, "The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2009 Projections," was written by Ben Eborn, University of Idaho Extension educator in Teton County; Paul Patterson, university Extension agricultural economist at Idaho Falls; and Taylor. It is available online at www.cals.uidaho.edu/aers/PDF/outlooks/financialcond09.pdf