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Economic Contributions Of Dairy Industry

January 2012

The Idaho dairy industry in Idaho is comprised of both milk producers and milk processors and has experienced significant growth in the past three decades. Idaho’s milk producers have gone from an average milk production state in the 1980s to the third largest milk production state in the nation. Likewise, the state has seen significant increases in processed milk product production. The Idaho dairy industry is now a mature industry cluster and major contributor to the state’s economy. Using government and proprietary data to create an economic base model which captures the linkages between the dairy industry and the state’s economy, we calculate the economic contributions of Idaho’s dairy industry and found:

  • The dairy industry supported 23,000 jobs and $6.6 billion of economic output across the entire Idaho economy in 2012.
  • The dairy industry contributed over $2.2 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.
  • The dairy industry generated over $2.5 billion in domestic and foreign exports (sales outside of the state) which represents new dollars injected into the state’s economy in 2012.
  • In terms of economic output, the dairy industry represents 30% of the agricultural sector in Idaho.
  • For every existing job in the dairy industry, there are 2.2 total jobs in the Idaho economy that depend on that dairy job.
  • For every new dairy sector job created in the Idaho economy to produce new products to sell to the outside world, a total of six jobs are supported in the Idaho economy.
Summary of the economic contributions of the combined Idaho dairy and milk processing industries
Contribution Type Employment Labor Income Output in Sales Value Added (GDP) State Tax Revenue
2012 Total Contribution 23,000 $680 million $6.6 billion $2.2 billion $72 million

For more information please contact Dr. Philip Watson at