Cow in a field 

The Idaho dairy industry is the nation's fourth largest milk producer, generating more than $2 billion in cash receipts in 2008. 


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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Agricultural Sciences Bldg.
Phone: (208) 885-6681
Fax: (208) 885-6654

Mailing Address:
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331


College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
322 E. Front Street
Boise, ID 83702
phone: (208) 334-2999
toll free: (866) 264-7384
fax: (208) 364-4035

Coeur d'Alene

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
1031 N. Academic Way, Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814-2277
phone: (208) 667-2588
toll free: (888) 208-2268
fax: (208) 664-1272


Idaho Falls

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
1776 Science Center Dr., Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho  83402
phone: (208) 282-7900
fax: (208) 282-7929


Town and dairy research study

Community Impacts of Idaho's Dairy Industry

During the past decade, southern Idaho's Hispanic population grew nearly 90 percent, parallel to the growth of the state's dairy industry, which is concentrated in three south central counties: Gooding, Jerome and Twin Falls.

The growth of the Hispanic population can be attributed to the dairy industry's demand for labor. The new residents helped Jerome and Gooding Counties buck the national trend of outmigration and population loss experienced by three quarters of farming dependant counties across the U.S. since 2000.

University of Idaho researchers Priscilla Salant, J.D. Wulfhorst and Stephanie Kane surveyed public perceptions about the dairy industry, analyzed data and interviewed more than 60 local elected officials, service providers, business people and others.

The researchers wanted to better understand the community-level impacts resulting from the changing dairy industry and its workforce.

The Idaho Dairymen's Association provided $60,288 to fund the effort, which is one of the most extensive community-level impact studies of its kind.

The study found that in general the industry's impacts have been positive. In Jerome, for example, businesses responded quickly to new customers. Population growth meant more students in schools, countering a trend in many rural communities of population loss and declining school enrollment. Overall, we found that communities are better off economically because of the dairy industry, but they struggle to adjust to the challenges of a changing and growing population.

Research-based Recommendations

  • Immigration policy changes that give employers and workers more predictability and security to allow workers to integrate more fully into the communities.
  • Encourage workers to file for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to boost income among the working poor.
  • Establish a full-time, Spanish-speaking community development professional to link industry and communities.

Download the full report.