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Population growth plays major part in Idaho agricultural land loss, study says

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - A new study shows Idaho lost more than 370,000 acres of rural and agricultural land from 1982 to 2017. More than 75% of that loss is due to the state’s rapid population growth.

Idaho “had 16% less cropland in 2017 than it did in 1982,” said Leon Kolankiewicz, the scientific director of NumbersUSA. “So that’s a loss of approximately a million acres of cropland.”

Not only does this affect the environment, but also the country’s agricultural economics. USDA says Idaho’s agriculture production ranks in the top 10 in the U.S. in almost 30 commodities. With less farm land, production can decrease.

More than 75% of the cause of this deforestation is attributed to population growth. A study from says Idaho ranked the highest in state population growth in the last decade (2013-2023).

Between 1990 and 2019, 59% of Idaho’s population growth was due to net migration. 41% of the growth was due to natural increase (births minus deaths).

“A lot of Idaho natives and residents are very unhappy at the rate of population growth, sprawl and development in the state,” Kolankiewicz said.

56% of Idaho voters want local and state governments to make it harder for people to move to the Gem State from other states by restricting development. Meanwhile, 54% of Idaho voters favor reducing immigration.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Noah Farley

Noah is a reporter for Local News 8.


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