Compared With Other Western States, Idaho’s Economy Still Driven By Farming

Sep 13, 2017

Idaho may be known as the potato state – and there’s good reason for it. On a per capita basis, the state generates the most money from agriculture out of any western state.

When it comes to money made on farm products like hay, wheat, milk and beef cattle, Idaho dominates in the West per-capita. That’s according to University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn.

Eborn says if you take population out of the equation, Idaho is third in the west behind California and Washington. He also ranked states in terms of GDP nationally – and there Idaho came in fourth.

“It kind of tells two stories," says Eborn. "One is that Idaho is heavily dependent upon agriculture. It’s basically the foundation of our economy. And it says another thing – we don’t do a lot besides agriculture. So we’re not a real diverse economy.”

What’s not included in these numbers is the economic benefit of food processing – which Eborn says plays a significant role in the state. He made the rankings using 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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