More than Potatoes - Idaho's Agriculture and Exports


For a lot of people, when you say the word “Idaho” they automatically think of potatoes. This is true for most people in the United States, and even across the world in Asia. There is no escaping Idaho’s potato reputation. Just like the starch in the potatoes we grow, the stigma that all there is in Idaho is potatoes sticks around. However, what if we told you about Idaho was more than potatoes? Or that it was more than an agricultural powerhouse? Would you be surprised? Well, Idaho is in fact much more than potatoes; Idaho has major exports in all sorts of industries and we are going to explore them right now.

Let’s begin by talking about Idaho’s position in the potato market, because while we are more than potatoes these vegetables are deeply rooted in our culture and history. You see, Idaho was once the site of intense volcanic activity which made it one of the most fertile places in the world. This fertile land was quickly harnessed for the growing of all sorts of crops, including potatoes. The potatoes from Idaho grew large and plentiful making them popular for a lot of people, however, what really made them a novelty would be the business deal between J.R. Simplot of the Idaho Simplot Company and Ray Kroc of McDonald’s. With a simple handshake, Idaho potatoes from Simplot’s corporation became the standard for McDonald’s fries around the world. Today even, Simplot’s potatoes account for over half of McDonald’s fries.

Idaho’s biggest industries

Now, just because we are knee deep in potatoes doesn’t mean that we don’t have other things going for us. In fact, Idaho is actually a very wealthy state with their foot in the door with all sorts of other agricultural investments. We’ll get into it a bit later, but Idaho has a lot more crops to offer the rest of the country and the world. However, it doesn’t stop there, Idaho also has large technology companies as well as some awesome mining rights.


Like we said earlier, there is a lot more going on in Idaho agriculturally than just a bunch of potatoes. Here we will talk a little bit about the different exports Idaho’s agricultural industry has focusing on their most produced crops.


Malt, or rather grains that have gone through the malting process, area very useful product that is used in “Beer, whisky, malted shakes, malt vinegar, confections such as Maltesers and Whoppers, flavored drinks such as Horlicks, Ovaltine, and Milo, and some baked goods, such as malt loaf, bagels, and rich tea biscuits.” (


Cheese is another big thing here in Idaho with cheese factories and dairy farms dotting the countryside in most counties. In fact, the United States Census Bureau even listed cheese as Idaho’s 23 largest export. Jerome Idaho, a city near Burley and Twin Falls, is a big place for cheese production from start to finish. There are loads of cattle farms very near to the massive cheese factory visible from the freeway.

Sugar beets

In and around Boise is a lot sugar beet farms. These account for many of the farms between Meridian and Nampa. They are used in many different products including molasses, cattle feed, and so on. It is a root crop that is closely related to the beets that are eaten on dinner tables around the world but are not usually eaten directly.


After agriculture, the technology industry is one of Idaho’s biggest players. Thanks to Micron, HP, and several other large corporations, Idaho, especially Boise, is a large player in the tech industry. Two of the products that come out of Idaho in the tech sector would be memory semiconductors and printers.

Memory Semiconductors

Micron Technology is a great company, one that has really put Boise on the map in the tech world. At their facilities in Boise, they design memory for all sorts of devices like Apple’s IPhones, tablets, and IPods, as well as SD cards, USB drives, and so on and so forth.


Another tech company in Boise is the printer division of Hewlett-Packard. This great company is located on a massive campus off of Chinden and Five Mile in Boise and employs 4,000 or so people. There they design, fix, and build some of HP’s best printer products bringing in a lot of money to the local economy.


Then, of course, there is mining. In Idaho, there are thousands of pounds of precious and non-precious metals and materials to mine which has continually brought business and jobs to the area. The most popular mines here are mines for molybdenum, gold, and silver.


While there are a lot more minerals harvested from the Idaho soil, it is hard to ignore the great potential there is for gold mining in this state. The gold taken from Idaho is processed and sold all around the world for various purposes and can do a lot of good for both the local and global economy.


Silver is another important mineral to Idaho with it being one of the most harvested in the state. Silver is used in jewelry, musical instruments, medical instruments, industrial ingredients and so much more making it a very useful mineral to many people.

Our top export partners

Aside from other states, Idaho actually does a lot of business with foreign entities. Its two biggest business partners outside out borders: Canada and Mexico.


Trade between Idaho and Canada is huge. We have great relations with our northern neighbors and we work more with them than any other country. Our largest export to Canada is mining materials like gold, silver, and other precious and non-precious metals.


We also do a lot of business with Mexico. We send them a lot of food and agricultural supplies as well as technology straight from Micron.

Idaho is a pretty awesome state. We have a lot here and we are about a lot more than just potatoes. We work hard and are productive and influential in a lot of areas of business. For more information about Idaho and what sort of business opportunities we have here just give us a call or an email here at the Hughes Group today.


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