Community Impacts of Dairy Workers (2017)
This study updates our 2009 analysis of how the dairy industry’s workforce impacts communities in Idaho’s south central region, commonly referred to as the Magic Valley. The region is home to about 70 percent of Idaho’s dairy cows and 10 percent of its residents. In the original study and in the update, we examine community impacts from a demographic, economic, and social perspective. Both studies were funded by grants from the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.
For the 2017 study, we conducted 48 semi-structured interviews with experts and keyinformants selected based on their knowledge of the region, its communities, and the dairy industry. In addition to our interviews, we also analyzed secondary data from federal, state, and local sources. These data provide important context to help understand themes, trends, and patterns that emerge from qualitative interviews, and vice versa. Two key national trends form the context for this report. The first is a continuation of decadeslong structural change in the dairy industry, towards fewer and larger farms. The second is slowing growth in the Hispanic population, largely the result of lower birth rates (in both Mexico and the U.S.) and a dramatic decline in the number of Mexican immigrants entering the U.S.