The dairy industry, from production to processing, is the major economic driver of the Magic Valley economy. Jerome County is home to 14% of Idaho dairy cow herd and the City of Jerome is home to four dairy processing facilities.
The dairy industry supports additional agricultural activities in the county including a large forage production industry. The alfalfa hay and corn silage grown in the county supports the dairy herd. Jerome County dairy producers must import additional forage and feed supplies. In 2012 Jerome County dairies produced $348 million worth of milk. Milk is by far the highest value farm product in Jerome County.
Nowhere else in Idaho are there more dairy farms than in southern Idaho. Almost half of agribusiness export sales are from the area’s dairy processing industry. This region is ideal for dairy farming, offering excellent cow feed availability for quality and generally cool year-round climate that improves milk production. Nearly 56% of Idaho dairy farms and over 76% of dairies are located just in southern Idaho. This region accounts for 72% of the state’s milk production, securing the state’s #3 rank in the U.S. for milk and #3 rank in cheese production. Southern Idaho ranks #1 in cheese production for the state.
Idaho is home to 22 dairy processing plants that take milk from Idaho farms and turn it into cheese, butter, dry non-fat milk, whey and other ingredients as well as fluid milk. The City of Jerome is home to five processing plants.
The dairy industry contributed over $2.2 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.
Source: 2015 Idaho Dairymen’s Association Industry Report & United Dairymen of Idaho Economic Contributions of Dairy Industry.