If there is a single industry in Idaho that basically defines the economy, it is farming. Of course, this is one of the few obvious things a person can say about Idaho. Farms are everywhere and there are more cows in the state than there are people. There are not that many more, but humans are still outnumbered. There are a bunch of other industries that are very important to the Idaho economy but none of them can really compare to the power and influence that is had by the farming community of Idaho. For most people, this does not really matter. A lot of the food and much of the animal products that come from the state stay in Idaho but a lot more gets exported to feed the rest of the country. It is easy to just forget that these farms have any impact at all. That is unless you come across them every day and work within the industry itself. In that case, Idaho is a very important place for you, full of opportunity. For both of these different kinds of people, I want to get into a bit of a rundown on what exactly goes on in Idaho when it comes to farming and how the whole system is organized.
I have no doubt that you know all about Idaho’s most famous export, the potato. Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a running gag in other parts of the United States to joke about how Idaho is nothing but a bunch of farmland with potatoes growing on it. I for one think the fact that Idaho produces so many and such excellent potatoes is a badge of honor. After all, the potato is one of the most delicious and versatile foods on the planet. It can go into pretty much anything and can be turned into a bunch of things, though some of the products that come out of the potato are a little less savory than others (I am looking at you, vodka). Regardless, Idahoans love to grow potatoes and the soil is really great for it. Idaho’s dirt is rich in certain elements that help with the growing process and a lot of that can be contributed to an age when Idaho was much more volcanically active, something that changed the nature of the soil on a level that other states do not reach. So, laugh all you want but Idaho will be laughing all the way to the bank with the money and fame it gets from having the best potatoes on the planet. Of course, Idaho’s number one export is not actually the potato. It is just the most famous export.
Idaho produces a lot more in the way of dairy products than it does in the way of potatoes. As I said earlier, it is a true fact that there are more cows in Idaho than there are people in Idaho and the people are definitely putting those cows to good use. There are a number of massive companies running farms in Idaho and all of them are dedicated to pushing out milk, cheese, cream, and anything else you can think of that might come from a cow. Naturally, this includes Idaho’s fair share of beef and other bovine meat products being contributed to the national food economy, though dairy is far and away the larger business. Obviously, a lot of cows comes with a lot of places that are very close to a lot of cows. With so many ranches raising cattle, you are bound to catch a whiff of something unpleasant every once in a while, even if you are just driving by somewhere with a whole lot of cows. Most people get upset when they find out there is a train track behind their home and look to move somewhere else. Some Idahoans have to live with the stench of cows for their entire time at home. Eventually, you get used to it, but it can take some time.
If you are someone involved in the agriculture industry yourself, Idaho can be a great place to find work. The American agricultural system is not what it used to be but there are definitely people who will need your help and who will be very happy to pay you for your work. Further, because of the way the industry has evolved since the old days, there are a bunch more jobs in it that never existed before. For example, most of the big farms are corporations in some way and thus need a lot of the same people that other corporations are always in need of. A farm never used to have an accountant before but they sure do now. It is not just about cowboys and ranch hands anymore. All kinds of fields of expertise are needed and so pretty much anyone with any kind of business experience is going to be wanted for some kind of work.
However, the landscape certainly starts to change when you are no longer a simple worker and a cog in the machine but want to take a part of the machine for yourself by setting up a farm of your own. There is always land for sale but it might not be where you want it and it might not be capable of growing the things you want it to grow. This is not the 1800s when the government would give you a bunch of land wherever you could settle and you could start farming whatever you want on it. You need to find your niche in the system if you want to find any kind of success. Trying to start up a new farm or ranch in Idaho is a little bit like trying to start a new bank in New York City. There is going to be a lot of competition and you are definitely going to be the underdog trying to stack up against massive companies that have been in the business for generations.