Boise--Fields are just turning green across the Snake River Plain. From SW Idaho all the way to Wyoming, there are alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see.
Idaho’s hay crop has doubled, with cash receipts now equalling potatoes at $820-million dollars according to the University of Idaho.
Yet that number understates hay’s role in Idaho agriculture, says Garth Taylor, an agricultural economist at University of Idaho. Thanks to Idaho’s growing beef and dairy industries — which brought in an estimated 58 percent of Idaho Ag sales last year — but much of Idaho’s hay is never sold.
At least 45 percent of hay in the state is fed to animals on the same farms that produced it, without being sold. Including that brings Idaho hay’s total value in 2015 to $881 million, a smidge more than potato sales.
“We've, shifted from a crop-based state to livestock-based state,” according to Taylor. “And that production is not pork. It’s beef, and all of that is built on our hay production.”