Idaho's farm sector could set another record for total farm-gate receipts this year. With expenses continuing to rise, however, a new record for net farm income is unlikely.
Cash receipts from all agricultural commodities in Idaho totaled $7.716 billion in 2012, breaking the record of $7.32 billion set the previous year. Through the first six months of 2013, cash receipts were on pace to total $7.715 billion, according to University of Idaho agricultural economists.
"It could go either way," UI ag economist Paul Patterson said of the possibility of a third straight record year for cash receipts. "But we're only halfway through the year and a lot can change."
Idaho's record of $2.57 billion for total net farm income, set in 2013, looks safe.
Based on data compiled by UI economists through the first half of the year, Idaho farmers and ranchers are on track to net $2.355 billion this year, which would be down 5 percent from last year but still the third highest total ever.
Expenses are on pace to total $6.25 billion, which would be a 2 percent increase over 2012.
UI ag economist Garth Taylor, who helps Patterson track the numbers, is slightly more optimistic when it comes to total cash receipts but a little less so on net farm income.
"I think we're going to set a new record on the gross side, but it won't be by much," he said. "I think total net farm income in Idaho is going to be down by 5 percent and maybe as much as 8, 9 or even 10 percent."
Heading into the 2013 season, UI economists were predicting that total cash receipts would be down by almost $200 million and net farm income would be off by 10-15 percent.
But milk prices have fared better than forecast and that's changed the overall picture, Taylor said. Milk sales accounted for almost a third of total farm-gate receipts in Idaho last year.
"Dairy is the 900-pound gorilla when it comes to farm-gate receipts," he said. If milk prices remain steady, "we'll be on track to break the record."
Patterson said total revenue from Idaho's barley, dry bean, hay and nursery crops are all on pace to be higher than last year.
Revenue from the state's potato crop is on track to be down slightly, while revenue from wheat and sugarbeets is on pace to be down significantly.
Revenue from all other crops is on pace to be up 9 percent.
"When you add all the numbers up, it's about a wash" compared to last year, Patterson said.
All the numbers are based on sales during a calendar year.