2021 Recap: Montana’s farmers and ranchers are going through another tough year | Big falls


GREAT FALLS, Montana. – For many across the country, the pandemic has created a year of ups and downs, especially for farmers in Montana, but through it all of these hard working men and women have found a way out of the better side despite all the changes.

Conditions may not have been the best for farmers at the start of the year, but that hasn’t stopped them from preparing for another profitable season.

The garage renovation and fencing work took a long time for farmers like the Schweitzer family, but it was only a matter of time before people learned that practical work couldn’t go that far.

During the 2021 legislative session, officials fought for the Right to Repair Bill, trying to give farmers and ranchers the ability to fix their technology in an emergency, but unfortunately this failed.

Regardless of what happened in the state capital, Montana’s farmers and ranchers had to keep going, and at McCafferty Ranch in Belt, that meant making sure their grass-fed cattle were getting the nutrients they needed. they need.

“We take grain, we water it, it germinates and basically we give our cattle barely germs as a hydroponic plant,” said Joel McCafferty.

In order for the farmers to bring you the best products, connecting with local butchers had to be the top priority.

“We’ve been very intentional to be local. It’s an investment in the community. We know that if you want to have good restaurants, good businesses, good ranchers, you have to support these people locally,” Drew said. Hicks, owner of Central Avenue Meats.

“You know we raise some of the best beef in the world in Montana. There’s no reason every Montanais not be lucky enough to have it,” said Kesler Martin, owner of Coulee Cuts.

While many butchers help bring great food to restaurants, many farmers also help bring the best drinks, but of course this process is not easy either.

“It’s great, you know you learn their process, you also learn their struggles. Because we can take it for granted, we call and it comes by truck. So it’s nice to see the work that goes into it. The hard work that goes into it, and not just that, but the love that goes into it, ”said Zach Peterson, production manager at Jeremiah Johnson.

In July and August, we chatted more with our future farmers in the 4-H industry as they showed off their award-winning cattle at fairs across the state. Based on these young farmers and ranchers, the future of agriculture looks bright. But for decades, farmers and ranchers of all ages have struggled, and they still struggle today.

Things like the weather, the price of crops, will farmers and ranchers have enough food for their livestock, and more can make or break their year, and unfortunately the suicide rate on the farm is only going up.

“I’m sick of losing my neighbors … we don’t have a lot of farmers or ranchers in this country. We’re becoming a smaller and smaller population,” said Walter Schweitzer, president of Montana. Farmers Union.

There is hope on the horizon as new programs help de-stigmatize mental health especially when it comes to agriculture and herding.

As the season changes, it’s time to take a look at a promising new crop that is attracting more and more farmers to Montana… hemp.

After Fort Benton saw IND Hemp inaugurate the first large-scale industrial processing facility in North America, many people began to enter the hemp industry.

“It was really easy to get in and it was sold like it’s easy, it’s great, it’s profitable.”

Questions about how this will play out are still in the air.

“So the CBD side of the hemp industry, you know… kinda the bottom has fallen and it’s really declining. However, the grain and fiber side has been pretty consistent over these years, like this. year, we “We have about four thousand acres of grain and eleven hundred acres of hemp fiber,” said Andy Gray, hemp program coordinator.

No matter how many obstacles face one thing is true, ranchers and farmers in Montana will all stick with what they know, including providing quality local produce, meat and produce to all. the world, while continuing to fight for Montana’s family farms.


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