Agriculture is the most important economic activity in South Central Idaho. More that 2.5 million
acres of Magic Valley soil are producing agricultural commodities, many of which are processed in
area plants, thus creating additional jobs for area residents. This area produces top quality crops
and livestock products, which are consumed throughout the world. Two-thirds of all the fresh trout
commercially raised in America are produced and processed at the fisheries along the Snake
River. Enough beans are produced to feed 35 million people, potatoes to feed 22 million, sugar to
feed 10 million, lamb to feed 3.4 million and dairy products to feed 2 million. The areas various
processing plants prepare the raw products and make them readily available in local stores for you
to purchase and take home.
With over 200,000 dairy cows in the area, cheese has become an important finished product.
There are cheese and whey protein processing facilities in Gooding, Richfield, Jerome, Burley, and
Twin Falls producing millions of pounds of several varieties of award winning cheeses annually.
Cassia County: Both Irrigated and dry land crops are produced in Cassia County. Potatoes and
sugar beets are the major crops grown, with potatoe processing being a major activity. Barley
and wheat are important products, with major growth in the malting barley industry. Because of
the availability of livestock feed, dairy cows, beef cows, swine, and sheep are grown throughout
the county. Livestock grazing takes place on public lands managed by federal agencies. Cassia
County's excellent farm production has helped Burley, Its county seat, become known as the
"Food Processing Capital of Idaho."
Gooding County: Potatoes, Hay and grain are the principal crops grown along the major
highways in the county. In recent years, with the number and abundance of land and feed,
Gooding County is now considered one of the leading counties in dairy cow numbers. Beef cattle
graze the public lands in the northern and western portions of the county.Â Trout farms are seen
along the Snake River and contribute over 80% of the nation's annual production of food trout to
the areas economy. A winery which is located in Hagerman offers wine tatting and also markets
other Idaho grown products.
Jerome County: Dairy is the leading industry in Jerome County. The number of dairy cows has
increased at a steady rate because of the abundance of both land and feed. Beans, potatoes
and sugar beets are important crops in the central and eastern portion of Jerome County. The
number of businesses that add value to our agricultural products are increasing, thus creating
jobs for area residents. The Jerome County Historical Society has established a Living Farm at
the junction of U.S 93 and Interstate 84
Lincoln County: Most of the irrigation water is obtained from Magic Reservoir, located on the
WoodRiver. Alfalfa, wheat and Barley are the major crops grown in this county because of the
availability of water and the shorter growing season. Most of this feed is used by local dairy
operators or transported to neighboring counties. One-half of the irrigated land in LincolnCounty
is supplied by deep wells, particularly in the eastern half and the Dietrich tract
MinidokaCounty:Â Sugar beets are the number one crop in Minidoka County. Sugar processing
takes place in Paul. Wheat a barley are also important crops as they are used in rotation for the
sugar beets and potatoes. Rupert has both a potato and cheese plant which provide area
residents with employment. There are also state-of-the-art "fresh Pack" potato operations in the
area. Irrigation water is obtained from the Snake River System and from wells to support the
Twin Falls County: Beans are the main commodity in Twin Falls County; however, potatoes,
sweet corn, sugar beets, seed crops, barley, wheat and hay are also important. These
commodities provide the raw products for food and seed processing plants located throughout the
area. Beef cattle, dairy cattle, and trout are also significant sectors, along with milk and meat
processing plants. Most of the areas products are available in local stores.
The gross farm income represents about 70% of the local economic base. This activity creates
much additional impact on our area. For example, for every 1,000 dairy cows, 36 jobs and $5.2
million are added to the area's economy. All of this possible because of the abundance of
irrigation water supplied by the Snake River, Wood River, and ground water aquifers. The canal
distribution system enables the producers of the Magic Valley to have an available water supply,
combined with an ideal environment to grow excellent crops.
Quite some time has passed since this article was written, But much of the information remains
current. However, a tremendous growth has occured in the interim years. There is now over 200,000
dairy cows in Gooding County alone, not to mention several other counties in the Magic Valley.