Bringing the Economy Home


The Business of Food: Idaho's Agriculture Economy


Tim Flach | Saul Loeb | Justin Sullivan | Christopher Furlong | Oli Scarff / Getty Images

Idaho's top five ag exports in 2010.

This page is no longer being updated. For ongoing coverage of this topic, go to Boise State Public Radio’s website.

Idaho’s top five agricultural exports can likely be found in products in your kitchen year round:

  • Dairy
  • Cattle/Calves
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat
  • Hay

According to a 2010 report from the University of Idaho, revenue from agricultural production increased 12 percent over 2009. Part of that increase can be explained by rising prices of milk, bread and beef.

“That’s one of the stabilizing influences of agriculture: it doesn’t matter if milk prices are at $10 or $20, those cows still have to be milked and hay still has to be bought.”  – University of Idaho Economist Garth Taylor

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports there were 24,700 farms and ranches in Idaho in 2011, covering more than 11 million acres.

Agriculture leads the state’s natural resource economy, contributing 4.5 percent to Idaho’s total gross state product (GSP). The University of Idaho’s annual agriculture report says production topped out in 1974 when crop and livestock production made up 16.1 percent of the state’s GSP.

Here’s a break down of where Idaho’s top ag exports go.

Source: Idaho Department of Agriculture

Latest Posts

Idaho Farmers Make Adjustments As Dry Conditions Set In

Last year, many of Idaho’s irrigated farmers fared well despite dry conditions because snow and rainfall the year before left reservoirs full. This year the picture is different. There’s less carryover — the term water managers use to describe the water that remains in reservoirs from the previous year — and dry conditions persist. Farmer […]

Idaho Ag Producers Compete For Grant Money

Capital Press reports a record number of Idaho agriculture groups have applied for specialty crop grants. The grants are financed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since 2009, the Idaho Department of Agriculture reports more than $3.5 million in grants have gone to Idaho producers. Capital Press reports $1 million will be up for grabs […]

Familiar Idaho Careers Fall On 2013 Worst Jobs List

The Wall Street Journal and came out with the top jobs of 2013 list this week. They ranked 200 jobs based on things like income, stress and hiring outlook. The top job, according to their list, is an actuary. So, what’s an actuary? We didn’t know either. “Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk […]

Idaho Businesses And Governor Ready For Asian Trade Mission

Last April, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and and representatives of 15 Idaho companies traveled to China hoping to develop trade relationships. On Friday, Otter and 17 Idaho businesses will head to South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam for a similar mission. The trade mission targets countries where Idaho companies hope to maintain or forge partnerships, said […]

Idaho Exports Rake In Billions In 2012

Idaho exports continue to increase. Data from the Idaho Department of Commerce show exports from the Gem State grew 3.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. Driving the export growth last year were food and agriculture products, transportation equipment, and office and home furnishings. More than $6.1 billion worth of Idaho exports headed to other countries […]

Chobani Opens Twin Falls Yogurt Facility Today, But At What Cost To Taxpayers?

In November 2011, the New York-based Greek yogurt maker Chobani announced plans to build a multimillion dollar manufacturing facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, with plans to hire 400 people. Today, 13 months later, Chobani’s Twin Falls facility holds its grand opening. New numbers show the yogurt maker hired fewer people than expected, and collected more […]

Idaho Creamery Closes Its Doors After Striking Wal-Mart Deal

Days after the Idaho State Department of Agriculture touted that Wal-Mart has begun carrying cheeses from Nelson-Ricks Creamery Company’s Rexburg plant, the company announced it will end production this month. “What’s happened to the company has been devastating,” president Reagan Wood said Monday.  “The community and the employees have been impacted, and we did everything […]

Wal-Mart Orders 40,000 Pounds Of Idaho Cheese

Wal-Mart stores across southern Idaho have begun carrying cheeses from a Rexburg creamery this week, according to the state agriculture department. Nelson-Ricks Creamery will provide cheddar, mozzarella and other varieties. “The brand is “Idaho Cheese,” says Idaho Preferred program manager Leah Clark.  “When you look at it in the case, it’s got a big State […]

Education And Health Care Jobs On The Rise In Idaho

How do Idahoans spend their workaday lives? Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week offer one answer. This is what working Idahoans did at work — broadly speaking, anyway — in 2011. Source: U.S. Census Bureau The construction sector has shifted in the opposite direction over the same time period, shrinking from 10.1 […]

For Some Idaho Farmers, This Year’s Drought Means Losses Next Year

In Idaho, this summer’s drought has picked winners and losers.  In southeast Idaho, farmers with deep wells and sophisticated irrigation systems predicted record profits as harvest time began last month.  Meanwhile, dryland farmers nearby contemplated withered spring wheat fields, and hoped to break even. Now, dryland wheat farmer Hans Hayden says the drought is beginning […]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »