Idaho farm exports on pace for another record year

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho is on pace to set a record for agricultural exports for the third consecutive year, state officials say.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture tells the Capital Press that the value of all Idaho agricultural products exported to other countries through September was $736 million. That's a 7.6 percent increase over the same period from 2012.

"Canada and Mexico continue to be good markets for Idaho ag products, and we've seen continued growth in both of those countries," said state agriculture department trade specialist Amanda Gibson.

The two countries are Idaho's top two markets. Exports to Canada rose 6.9 percent to $153 million. To Mexico, exports rose 8.5 percent to $124 million.

China and South Korea are the third and fourth largest markets for Idaho farm products. Exports to China grew 5 percent to $74 million. To South Korea, exports grew 31 percent to $47 million.

Exports have dropped to Japan, Idaho's fifth largest market. Japan through September purchased $36 million worth of Idaho farm products, a drop of 29 percent from last year.

Thirty-one percent of Idaho agricultural exports were dairy products for a total of $230 million. That's a 3.7 percent increase over last year.

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation spokesman John Thompson said commodity prices and rising incomes in emerging economics partly explain the increase in Idaho exports.

"It's a combination of a whole bunch of things but dairy is by far the biggest reason in terms of total dollars," he said. "Growth in the middle class of a lot of those countries we export to is another big reason."

Exports in the miscellaneous grain, seed and fruit category rose 12.9 percent to $98 million.