Celebrate National Agriculture Week

National Agriculture Week March 15-21 marks a time to celebrate agriculture. What better way to celebrate than to look at the success of Montana agriculture? Agriculture is the number one driver in Montana’s economy with its farmers and ranchers contributing $2 billion to the country’s economy. Montana ag statistics is that wheat is Montana’s largest export with nearly 75 percent of the crop being exported to Asia. If that’s not impressive enough, Montana is the leading producer of certified organic wheat, dry peas and lentils.

Farmers and ranchers continually strive to improve their environment. They have increased their use of no-till farming and find ways to improve the soil. “At our farm, having a crop rotation with spring wheat, peas and forage barley has really improved the soil health. That in turn has made us see an improvement in crop yield,” says Tom DePuydt, a Saco farmer and Montana Farm Bureau District 7 Director. “We need to produce more food on less acres to feed a growing population, while at the same time making room for wildlife. Using crop rotation is a win-win situation; we build the health of the soil to feed more people on the same amount of land.”

Montana farmers and ranchers are very proud of the quality livestock they produce on land that is not suitable for crops. “There 1.5 million cows and calves in this state, ranking 10th in the nation and our beef is second to none,” says Montana Farm Bureau President Bob Hanson, a White Sulphur Springs cattle rancher. “What’s really impressive is that we have only 28,000 farms and ranches producing food that is enjoyed in our state and across the country and the world.”

Hanson points out that in spite of people bandying about the terms that farms and ranches are owned by corporations, nothing could be further from the truth. “About 97 percent of our farms and ranches are family owned. Even if you see the word ‘corporation’ many family ranches incorporate solely for tax and estate planning purposes,” explains Hanson.

There are over seven billion people in the world today – that’s over seven billion mouths to feed every day and America’s farmers and ranchers, by continually improving their productivity, are up to the task. Ag Day is March 18 so be sure to thank farmers and ranchers every day and especially during Ag Week.

–Montana Farm Bureau