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2020 was a record year for Idaho farmers when it comes to net farm income. Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s Sean Ellis said the numbers wouldn't normally indicate a record year, as total expenses went up considerably last year while total farm gate revenue stayed the same.

“In an average year, Idaho farmers will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $130-$160 million worth of federal government payments. Last year that number was $823 million. A good chunk of it was COVID assistance payments and that's the reason, the only reason, that Idaho set a net farm income record last year."

Producers across the nation have been making use of the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program since its creation and inception last year. Those payments are expected to drop off by 40% in 2021. According to the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, net farm income is estimated to increase by around 20% next year. However, 2021 yields are expected to decrease across most crops following this year's extreme weather. Total farm expenses are also set for sharp increases next year.

"They've gone crazy. The USDA is forecasting that fuel and oil expenses for farmers this year in the U.S. will increase by 27%. Feed expenses will increase by 11%, labor expenses will rise by another 7% and fertilizer expense are forecasted to rise by 4%."

According to ERS, it might be a mixed bag of outcomes for Idaho's biggest Ag sectors in 2021. Dairy, the state's largest commodity, is expected to see a decline in net farm income, as are potatoes and wheat. However Idaho's second largest commodity, cattle, is expected to see an increase in net farm income by year’s end.

If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail gvaagen@cherrycreekmedia.com