‘Tis the season for basketball.

Woolsey cassidy
Managing Editor / Ag Proud – Idaho
Cassidy is a contributing editor to Progressive Cattle and Progressive Forage magazines.

Whether you’re a parent chasing the middle school to high school basketball circuit, braving the snow and racking up miles on your vehicle, or simply cozying up in your recliner to strategically draft your March Madness bracket – the court is calling.

While my toddler still has years before we join the ranks of the “chasing” parents, every now and again I enjoy watching a good high school basketball game.

The community camaraderie, the salute to our flag, the aroma of pizza and salty pretzels – and, of course, the enthusiastic parents who take the game a tad too seriously, making it entertaining for those not directly related to them. (I’m sure you can picture someone who fits this description.)

As the basketball season unfolds, with its stories of underdogs, unexpected triumphs and power players, I find parallels in the agricultural landscape of Idaho. Since taking on the role of editor for Ag Proud – Idaho, I’ve been asked how our state stacks up against others in agriculture. The reactions seem to be a mix of curiosity and surprise when they hear my response.


Known for our potatoes, and rightfully so, most people aren’t surprised to hear Idaho leads the nation in potato production, producing nearly one-third of all U.S. potatoes, as reported by the Idaho Department of Agriculture (IDA). Despite their fame, potatoes are just one of the key players on Idaho’s agricultural roster.

Let’s highlight Idaho’s standout player – the dairy industry. Despite a rough 18% revenue dip from 2022, it remains the state’s agricultural MVP, boasting cash receipts exceeding $3 billion in 2023. Additionally, Idaho clinches the title of the nation’s third-largest dairy producer.

Stealing a remark I heard from someone at a recent conference: “[We] are in the dairyland of potatoes, my friend.”

Idaho is also a top barley-producing state in terms of yield. While No. 2 Montana and No. 3 North Dakota farm more acres, Idaho farmers produced 32.7% of the nation’s total barley supply in 2023 on just 540,000 acres. (Montana farmed 1.02 million acres of barley, to give you some context.)

The trend continues with Idaho as the second-largest national producer of sugarbeets, ranks second in alfalfa hay production, and holds the title of the largest grower of hard white wheat in the U.S., as reported by the IDA. That’s just to name a few.

Talk about a slam dunk, Idaho!

While the state’s agricultural achievements are nothing short of a winning game, it may seem at times the accolades get lost behind states like Iowa, Kansas and, dare I say it, California. But the stats don’t lie: Idaho is a notable contender.

Now, before you go, be sure to check out a more in-depth analysis of Idaho agriculture’s financial performance in 2023. And stay tuned for the upcoming release of the latest Census of Agriculture on Feb. 13.