Idaho Agriculture

Idaho Agriculture

History of the State of Idaho

  • The State of Idaho came to existence on 3rd July, 1890 and it became the 43rd state of United States of America. This state is located in the Pacific Northwestern part of the country. The local people of Idaho are known as "Idahoans".
  • Area wise, Idaho is ranked 14th in the country with Boise, the largest city of the state, being its capital. US Census Bureau estimated the population of Idaho to be approximately 1,545,801 in the year 2009.
  • The State of Idaho by and large is a mountainous region. The states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and the Canadian Province of British Columbia surround the state of Idaho on its sides.
  • Lewiston is the furthermost inland harbor on the west coast of the United States with rivers Columbia and Snake coming together as an important part of the formation of the harbor.

Agriculture in Idaho

  • Agriculture in Idaho began when Mormon settlers migrated to Idaho from the state of Utah. Thus the foundations of initial farming activities were set at Franklin in 1860.
  • Since the beginning, the farmers of Idaho have used advanced methods and instruments for farming. This helped the agricultural sector as the state of Idaho was landlocked and it was difficult for the miners of the state to bring in food products from other states. These techniques enabled them to receive higher returns on the investments.
  • Agriculture in the Idaho region is subject to the accessibility of irrigation water, and the potential for dry land farming. These factors play an important role in selecting the type of farming to be carried out in this region. 
  • The southeast regions of Idaho are drier and thus require different methods of farming to be practiced. Dry farming was developed by the farmers of this area because they faced insufficient rainfall but had a desire to grow crops.
  • The Crop Rotation Technique for agriculture in Idaho includes crops being planted every alternate year. In one year, the crops are planted and the next year, the land is left unfarmed to help it hold in moisture in preparation for crops of the following year.
  • About 16% of employment is directly connected to activities of agriculture in Idaho and approximately 11.80 million acres of land is used for agricultural activities. This makes the agricultural sector of Idaho, one of the leading contributors to the economy of the state.
  • In 1998, the agricultural sector of Idaho was worth more than $8 billion and generated employment in the state for about 60,000 Idahoans. This in turn amounted to approximately $1.5billion in wages.
  • The counties which contributed the most in terms of agricultural produce in the state were Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Twin Falls and Elmore with the largest producer of fruits like peaches, apples, grapes, plums and cherries.
  • The vineyards of Idaho are highly productive and are famed for the Idaho Wine. Generally the vineyards are situated at a height of 1800 feet on the foothills of Rocky Mountains. 
  • Viticulture is carried out in the vineyards so that there is a better production of wine. Methods like Open Canopies, Drip Irrigation and Pruning are performed in the vineyards as one of the methods of Viticulture.
  • Chief wineries of the state of Idaho are located along the Snake River valley which is situated to the west of Boise. Oregon and the Snake River valley is the official American Viticulture Area (AVA).
  • Apart from grape production, Idaho is well known for the production of Barley. The state has been ranked 1st in its production of the crop in the United States of America and as of 2006, the crop of barley was worth (approximately) $134,946,000.
  • Some of the crops which contribute to the agricultural produce and exports in Idaho are melons, potatoes, beets and sweet potatoes. Apart from these crops grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas are also produced significantly in the state of Idaho.

Idaho Livestock and Animals

  • Aquaculture
  • Cattle and calves
  • Dairy
  • Hogs and pigs
  • Horses, ponies, mules, burros, and donkeys
  • Poultry and eggs
  • Sheep, goats, and their products

Idaho Agricultural Statistics

Top Commodities, Exports, and Counties

Top 5 agriculture commodities, 2001
Commodity Value of receipts
thousand $
Percent of state total
farm receipts
Percent of US value
1.     Dairy products 1,042,740 27.1 4.2
2.     Cattle and calves 914,863 23.8 2.3
3.     Potatoes 551,184 14.3 22.4
4.     Hay 303,045 7.9 6.7
5.     Wheat 292,688 7.6 5.1
All commodities 3,847,926   1.9


Top 5 agriculture exports, estimates, FY 2001
Commodity Rank among
million $
1.     Vegetables and preparations 3 257.1
2.     Wheat and products 8 147.2
3.     Other 17 103.5
4.     Live animals and meat 19 87.7
5.     Dairy products 5 56.8
Overall 21 820.2


Top 5 counties in agricultural sales 1997
Counties Percent of state's
total receipts
Million $
1.     Cassia 9.9 332.8
2.     Canyon 9.3 311.4
3.     Jerome 7.5 250.4
4.     Gooding 7.5 249.4
5.     Twin Falls 7.2 239.4
State total   3,345.9