With nearly 13 billion pounds of milk pumped from half a million Idaho dairy cows each year, there was a time when Idaho was third in the nation among milk-producing states. And it appears that the Gem State is about to return to that No. 3 spot, regaining that post from New York state.
The Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization reports that since January of this year, Idaho has exported $213 million in cheese, dry milk, whey, butter and lactose, a whopping 52 percent increase from previous years.
Cheese tops those exports. Cheese represents 72 percent of Idaho's dairy production—nearly 27 million pounds per day, mostly in Southern Idaho.
Idaho's dairy industry grew from $73 million in 1970 to nearly $1.9 billion in 2010. And the dairy industry employs more than 22,700 individuals. Allied industries employ an additional 13,400 people.