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Idaho dairy farmers produce more milk and cheese than almost any state in the nation. Idaho is ranked third behind California and Wisconsin.

Magic Valley Company Makes Bullfrogs Their Cash Crop

Skip Russell
Flickr Creative Commons
Wild American bullfrogs are used in medical and academic research. A business in southern Idaho raises farmed bullfrogs to sell instead.

The Magic Valley is known for its agricultural clout. But beyond giant dairy farms and the row crops, there’s an aquatic economy that’s literally hopping.

“I had always had an interest in animals that live in water," says Steve Rivas, "so I thought, ‘I really like bullfrogs, and there’s a possibility that if they could be raised as a farm animal that money could be made.’”

In 1989, Rivas and his wife Lisa began researching ways to raise American bullfrogs in southern Idaho that could be used by medical labs and schools. He says typically, the frogs used for testing are captured from the wild. One of the big hurdles was figuring out how to feed the amphibians on a commercial diet that could be easily replicated.

Now, their company Rana Ranch raises and sells thousands of bullfrogs to about three dozen customers for medical and academic research purposes.

“No other frogs compare to the frogs we supply them,” Rivas says.

He says part of their success has been because of the freshwater resources and agricultural infrastructure in the Magic Valley.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.