And The Award for Top Western Agricultural State Is….


Wait? What? California? I thought California was, like, all Los Angeles and Hollywood, movie stars, sunshine and beaches! …..   Negative!

See that huge valley? All farms! And there are half a dozen other large valleys in CA that are also huge ag areas

See that huge valley? All farms! And there are half a dozen other large valleys in CA that are also huge ag areas

A huge portion of California is valuable farmland, producing a major portion of our nation’s fruits and vegetables. The soil in California’s important farming areas such as the Salinas, Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys are so rich as to be almost black.  California’s climate, with long, sunny days, promotes long growing days the year-round. California produces almost all of our country’s almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries, not to mention wine grapes (source).

In fact, the agricultural economy alone of the great state of California is the 9th largest economy in the entire world.

Ben Eborn, a agricultural economist at the University of Idaho, compiles a ranking of 11 Western states each September.  In 2012, California was the clear winner in total farm crop and livestock values for 2012, with $44.6 billion in receipts!  But guess who the next two spots went to?!  Washington, in 2nd place with $9.6 billion in receipts, and IDAHO in $7.8 billion!  Whoa!  GO WASHINGTON!  GO IDAHO!

While Idaho might be 3rd in total farm receipts, it blows the competition out of the water

This map shows Idaho's farmland areas.

This map shows Idaho’s farmland areas. Click to enlarge.

when you look at farm receipts on a per capita basis.  Want to know how much Idaho farmers produced per capita?  Get ready to have your mind blown, because the answer is $4,901 worth of crop and livestock per resident!  That is HUGE!  By comparison, California is pitiful, with only $1,171 in ag production per capita.  Idaho’s farmers are huge producers, and an incredibly valuable part of our state’s economy.  I’m so proud I’m tearing up! 🙂

Here’s a complete list of the 11 Western states:

1 – California $44.6 billion
2 – Washington $9.6 billion
3 – Idaho $7.9 billion
4 – Colorado $7.3 billion
5 – Oregon $4.7 billion
6 – Montana $4 billion
7 – New Mexico $4 billion
8 – Arizona $3.8 billion
9 – Utah $1.6 billion

10 – Wyoming $1.5 billion

11 – Nevada $0.7 billion

This article was published on Sept 19, 2013 in the Capital Press, a weekly agriculture newspaper, and written by Sean Ellis.

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