The economy of South-central Idaho is driven by agriculture. Once an unforgiven desert, the implementation of surface irrigation made farming a reality. Today, agriculture production and the associated food and beverage processing account for a significant portion of the State of Idaho’s gross revenues in both sales and GDP. In 2020, 47% of the state agriculture sales were produced in South-central Idaho.i The high density of agriculture production in the region has attracted numerous facets of the food processing industry cluster. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Commerce recognized South-central Idaho under the Manufacturing Communities Partnership program “as one of the most diverse food baskets in the nation."ii
State & Regional Agriculture Stats
- The State of Idaho ranks first in the nation in the production of potatoes, barley, peppermint, and trout.
- Idaho produces 14 billion pounds of potatoes each year.
- Idaho is the second largest grower in the U.S. of sugar beets and hops.
- The region raises 49% of the State’s cattle and calves, 19% of the beef cows, and 73% of dairy cows.
- Area ranchers account for 54% of the sheep and lambs in the State.
- Idaho produces 70% of U.S. domestic trout.
- The Magic Valley is home to 80 fish farms with 98% of the state’s aquaculture production occurring in Twin Falls, Gooding, and Jerome counties. iv
Did You Know?
In 2020, Idaho was third in the nation for milk production at more than 16 billion pounds and is home to nearly 500 family-owned farms.iii As of January 2021, 73% of the state’s milk cows were in southern Idaho.
The Magic Valley is home to the world's largest yogurt factory and several American-style cheese production facilities.
The regional economy revolves heavily around agriculture. Export of those agriculture goods and products is essential to regional and state economic sustainability. In October 2020, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture reported Idaho produces enough food product for every Idahoan to consume daily 189 slices of bread, 40 potatoes, 3 pounds of sugar, 2 pounds of cheese, 2 pounds of beef and one cup of beans. Paul, Idaho (in Minidoka County) is home to the largest sugarbeet factory in the U.S. The ag-friendly environment in Idaho has made the state attractive to nontraditional commodities as well. In 2023, Hagerman Canyon Farms became the largest melon grower in the Pacific Northwest. Development of sustainable manufacturing and production processes for global export is essential to ensure continued prosperity and growth of the region.