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Agriculture Today
As is true across the United States, farms in Idaho are getting larger and fewer. The political dominance of farmers over the Idaho legislature is waning. Family farms, especially dry land ones, are under severe economic pressure. Sheep grazing, once a vital part of the Idaho economy, is almost a thing of the past. Several charts, shown above, from the Chesterfield Foundation's documentation of life in northern Gem Valley, illustrate these trends.

(above) Chart of total farmland, farm size, and number of farms in Bannock and Caribou Counties, Idaho 1900-1974.

(above right) Chart showing acres harvested by crop, Bannock and Caribou Counties, Idaho 1889-1974.

(right) Chart of livestock in Bannock and Caribou Counties, 1900 to 1974. All charts from the Chesterfield Foundation (1982).


  1. Arrington, Leonard J., 1969, Idaho and The Great Depression: Idaho Yesterdays, v. 13, Summer, 1969, p. 2-8, reprinted in Etulain, R.W., and Marley, B.W., editors, 1974 (3rd printing, 1984), The Idaho Heritage: A collection of historical essays: Pocatello, Idaho, The Idaho State University Press, p. 129-133.

  2. Arrington, Leonard, 1986, Irrigation in the Snake River Valley: Idaho Yesterdays, v. 30, nos. 1-2, p. 3-11.

  3. Etulain, R.W., and Marley, B.W., editors, 1974 (3rd printing, 1984), The Idaho Heritage: A collection of historical essays: Pocatello, Idaho, Idaho State University Press, 230 p.

  4. Foote, Mary Hallock, 1972, A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West, edited by Rodman W. Paul: San Marino, California, The Huntington Library, 416 p.

  5. Hackett, W.R., Pelton, J., and Brockway, C., 1986, Geohydrologic story of the eastern Snake River Plain and the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory: Idaho Falls, Idaho: U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, 32 p.

  6. Harstad, P.T., editor, 1972, Reminiscences of Oscar Sonnenkalb, Idaho Surveyor and Pioneer: Pocatello, Idaho, The Idaho State University Press, 66 p.

  7. Idaho Yesterdays, 1986, Special Issue: Irrigation in Idaho, v. 30, no. 1-2, 76 p.

  8. Lovin, Hugh T., 1985, Free Enterprise and large-scale reclamation on the Twin Falls-North Side Tract, 1907-1930, Idaho Yesterdays, v. 29, no. 1, p. 2-14.

  9. McCarthy, Max R., 1987, The Last Chance Canal Company: Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies Monographs in Western History, no. 16, 131 p.

  10. Paul, Rodman W., 1975, When culture came to Boise: Mary Hallock Foote in Idaho: Idaho Yesterdays, v. 20, no. 2, p.212.

  11. Peterson, F. Ross, 1994, Water and Agriculture: The Idaho Story: in Idaho and the American West, Boise, Idaho, Idaho Humanities Council, p. 21-26.

  12. Reisner, Marc, 1986, Cadillac Desert: New York, New York, Penguin Books, 582 p.

  13. Stegner, Wallace, 1971 (reprinted 1992), Angle of Repose: New York, Penguin Books, 569 p.

  14. The Chesterfield Foundation, Inc. 1982, Chesterfield: Mormon outpost in Idaho: The Chesterfield Foundation Inc, Rural Route, Bancroft Idaho, 83217.

  15. Whitehead, R.L., 1986, Geohydrologic framework of the Snake River Plain, Idaho and eastern Oregon: U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Investigations Atlas HA-681, scale 1:1,000,000.