What do you need to know about farming in Idaho? Well, first of all, you probably already know that there are few other places in the world that are as cut out for farming as Idaho is. There is so much land available for growing whatever you might want and all of that land is fertile and ready to go. But there is more to it than just what Idaho land is available and how much of it you want to buy. Farming is a pretty complex task for how old and steeped in tradition it is, and like all business, it has risks. Sure, everyone needs to eat, but there are a lot of people out there working to supply that demand, and chances are good that if you are not careful about what you do when you start a farm up, you will end up getting left behind by the competition. What follows are some facets of the Idaho agricultural industry, farming in general, and your part in the whole business. Hopefully, knowing a little bit more about what is going on can help you break into the practice of farming if you want to.
First, a few general principles of farming. You are either going to be growing stuff only for yourself (In which case the risk to you is minimal and your operation is probably going to be pretty small) or you are going to be growing stuff for a whole lot of other people (In which case you are going to need to make a pretty hefty investment). It all depends on what you want to accomplish. The former option of subsistence farming is not something many people need a lot of help with and there are other guides for you out there, so I am going to focus on the commercial side of things. You have three options when it comes to farming. You can either raise plants, livestock, or both. Never rule out any of these points. Most farms are specific in what they grow to reduce costs, but you have to come up with what is going to work for you and be the best for profits or just the general experience. Whatever you choose, you need to prepare for it with the right tools and practices. Rising livestock is very different from growing plants, and you need to be ready for those differences.
The Idaho Potato
No conversation in Idaho is complete without talking about the potato. Pretty much everyone on the planet knows that Idaho grows and distributes the best potatoes known to man. There are farms for potatoes all over the state and the practice has become something of a joke for many who are not too familiar with Idaho. In fact, Idaho is where the potato was invented, or at least where it was discovered by European settlers. Native Americans in the Idaho area had been growing and using potatoes for ages before any settlers showed up, but the showed the Europeans what to do and the potato became very popular back in the original colonies and across the sea in Europe. From there, the potato spread across the world, as everyone recognized just how amazing and versatile it was. All of this is to say that Idaho has a very close relationship with the potato, and if you want to take up farming in Idaho, you are probably going to have to get used to that. Land good for potato growth is probably going to be earmarked for that instead of anything else. There might not be demand in the area you want to start farming for anything but potatoes. Honestly, there might just be no profitable option available to you other than to grow potatoes. Of course, Idaho is growing a hundred other things that are not the potato, but that does not mean the option is going to be available to you to get in on that action. Beets, hops, hay, wheat, corn, barley, and a bunch of other crops are grown where potatoes are not, but you have to be in the right spot join in. If you have no problems growing potatoes and that is one of the reasons you want to farm in Idaho, then this should not be a problem, but if you are interested in other things, make sure you plan ahead and do not make commitments where the only thing people are growing is potatoes. Of course, this trend might work to your advantage. If people are only growing potatoes, you might be able to diversify the market in the area if there is demand for something else, but this will probably take a cunning business mind, and it is up to you to decide if you are ready for that kind of challenge.
Lastly, keep in mind that agriculture is a very big business. Farming does not really look like it used to. Where once there were family runs farms dotting the landscape sending their harvest into town or the city for consumption, now there are corporate farms that go on for miles and miles that stack cattle or other livestock together in gigantic pens made up of little cages. A single company might own thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland in an area, and that means it is going to be difficult for the little to compete. You might find yourself out of business pretty quickly if you pick the wrong spot to start farming and get overshadowed by one of the megacorporations that are feeding the rest of the country.
Farming is a very rewarding practice, and there are few other places on the planet that are as perfect for it as Idaho. As long as you make the right decisions leading up the commitment of buying land to get started on, your options are pretty wide and your potential for profit and satisfaction are pretty high. As well. Just go into with a mind on the details, both macro and micro, and you should see success.