The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has an ever-important place in one of the state’s largest industry sectors. It recognizes Idaho’s economic well-being is forever tied to the health of its farming and ranching. It also recognizes new opportunities exist that will redefine the future of agriculture in Idaho. As agriculture changes, ensuring efficient and superior service delivery will be the department’s foremost priority. The pledge has been made to optimize the value of principles our farmers and ranchers have framed over the past century.
With 144 different crops grown in Idaho the variety, quality and availability of Idaho food and agricultural crops is abundant – meeting consumers’ needs both domestically and abroad.
Idaho is best known for its beef and potatoes. In fact, Idaho grows more potatoes than any other US growing region, annually producing about 12 billion pounds. Over 2 million head of cattle are raised on Idaho ranches and in feedlots producing high quality beef for restaurants and retailers throughout the country. Idaho ranks among the top US producers of several commodities as well as specialty crops.
Idaho leads the nation in production of trout, ranks second in barley and plums, and third in onions, sugarbeets and mint. Idaho is the fastest growing dairy state, and now ranks fifth in milk production and third in production of cheese. Rich volcanic soil, long warm summer days with cool nights combined with use of state-of-the-art technology allow Idaho farmers to produce sweet corn, cherries, peaches, apples, watermelon, asparagus, as well as peas, lentils and dry beans. Grains grown in Idaho are shipped worldwide, as well as milled into flour for pasta, bread and cereals. In addition to food crops, Idaho farmers excel in raising quality hay, nursery stock and many types of vegetable, grass and forage seeds.
Idaho agriculture continues to innovate and look for new opportunities to meet consumers’ demands. Research conducted by the University of Idaho has led to the development of a successful table grape industry and the cultivation of hybrid fruits such as the pluot – a cross between a plum and an apricot.
Also growing is Idaho’s grape and wine industry. The unique combination of geography, climate and soils produce grapes of exceptional character. Over 30 wineries handcraft their wines leading to award-winning Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Rieslings.
In five of the last six years, cash receipts from Idaho agriculture have reached record highs. The $4.5 billion generated from agriculture is the engine that drives many of Idaho’s rural economies. Idaho’s agriculture is strong and vibrant with a rich past and an equally exciting future.