Grown in Montana Features State’s Top 10 Agriculture Products

Image via Grown in Montana

Image via Grown in Montana

Montana is definitely the beef state and that is confirmed by an article in Montana Department of Agriculture’s recent Grown in Montana publication.

Cattle and Calves make up the largest of agricultural commodities in Montana (based on 2013 cash receipts), with more than 2,550,000 cattle bringing over $1.5 billion to the state’s economy. Beaverhead and Fergus counties lead the state in the number of all calves and beef calves born in the state, respectively.

What about the state’s agricultural commodities? Here is a Top 10 list:

  1. Cattle and calves – Did you know, there are more than 2.5 cattle for every person living in Montana?
  2. Wheat – Montana ranks No. 3 in the nation for wheat production. This crop brings $1.4 billion in cash receipts to the state with more than 5,400,000 acres planted.
  3. Hay – Montana ranks as 4th in the nation for hay production with an economic impact of $753,480,000 in cash receipts. Alfalfa makes up a large portion of this crop valued at an average $141 per ton.
  4. Barley – In 2013, this cropped reached its highest production value in more than a century and is used for malting or feed. 990,000 acres bring in cash receipts of more than $283 million. Teton county leads the nation in barley production with 7,670,000 bushels. Montana leads the nation in number of barley acres planted.
  5. Image via Grown in Montana

    Image via Grown in Montana

    Dry Peas – This pulse crop hit records with 520,000 acres planted in 2014 and $96 million in cash receipts. Montana ranks number 1 in the nation for dry peas and lentils production.

  6. Sugar Beats – Montana ranks No.6 in the nation for sugar beet production. In 2013, 1,250,000 tons were harvested from 42,800 acres, drawing $92,895,000 in cash receipts.
  7. Hogs – Montana hogs recently hit prices not seen in more than a decade, with an average value of $145 per head. In 2012, the state had cash receipts of more than $64,109,000 from pig farming.
  8. Milk – The average milk produced from Montana dairy cows comes out to 21,286 pounds annually, consuming a total of 3 million pounds of feed. The dairy business brings $55,165,000 in cash receipts to the Montana economy.
  9. Potatoes – Idaho may be most famous as the potato state, but did you know Big Sky Country produces its fair share of seed potatoes? The crop tallies up to $44,389,000 for Montana farmers on 11,000 acres.
  10. Honey – This sweet treat lands Montana in the No. 2 slot nationally. Montana is home to 160,000 bee colonies, doubling production in 2013 with a value of over $31 million.

Learn more about Montana agriculture and read stories behind the state’s farmers and ranchers in Grown in Montana – “a guide to the state’s top crops, livestock, agribusiness, tourism, food safety and local products – by visiting this link from the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Montana Farm and Ranch Facts | 10 Things To Know

Click this image to view all posts in the 30-day blogging series, 10 Things to Know About Cattle

Click this image to view all posts in the 30-day blogging series, 10 Things to Know About Cattle

We spend our entire lives working on ranches, going to meetings with other ranchers, and talking about the markets… with other ranchers. Sometimes it is easy to forget that many of the things we take for granted and the knowledge we see as second-nature may not always be known by someone who hasn’t been in the business very long. The ranching community is finally recognizing the fact that many customers buying our beef may not always realize these things either. That is part of our responsibility in advocacy – sharing the knowledge and information we have with those who are asking questions and seeking out answers.

During the month of November, we’ll be sharing “10 Things to Know About Cattle” as a part of Holly Spangler’s blogging challenge. Each day will be a different topic that will hopefully share some insightful information about things we encounter in the Montana ranching business. Some of it may be old hat for those of you who have been in the business a while. Hopefully, we will be sharing information for readers who are looking to learn more.

This won’t be an easy task, but we are always up for a good challenge! Have any suggestions for topics to cover? Leave your questions in the comments section below or email

Granville Stuart Montana StockgrowersIt only seems right to kick off the series with an introduction to the Montana cattle business. Here are 10 things you may or may not have known about the history of Montana farming and ranching and where we’re at today.

  1. The Montana Stockgrowers Association has been representing the interests of Montana’s ranchers since 1884. A launching effort to organize the group was by Granville Stuart leading up to the “Cowboy Legislature” of 1885 which established many laws focused on protecting cattle from predators, diseases and rustlers that were taking a toll on the early ranchers.
  2. Cattle ranching in Montana has its roots beginning in the 1850s. One of the earliest ranches was started by Conrad Kohrs. This ranch is now the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site owned by the National Park Service.
  3. Montana is home to 28,100 farm and ranch operations that cover 59,700,000 acres of land (63%  of state land area). The average size of these Montana farms and ranches is 2,125 acres.
  4. There are 93,155,800 acres of land in Montana. 32,473,220 acres, 34.86%, are public lands managed by state and federal agencies. Montana ranchers utilize much of this land through grazing leases to feed cattle during the summer months, which helps to manage wildlife habitat.
  5. Montana ranks number 10 in the country for number of cattle and calves; number 7 for the number of sheep and lambs (236.646).
  6. Cattle outnumber people in the state of Montana, 2.5:1. There are 2,550,000 head of cattle in Montana, as of January 1, 2014, and only 1,015,000 people (2013).
  7. Most cattle on Montana are on cow/calf operations. There are only 45,000 cattle on feed and 14,000 dairy cows in the state.
  8. The average Montana farmer and rancher is 58.9 years of age. 84% of primary operators are men. 45% of operators have another primary source of income, outside of farming and ranching.
  9. Agriculture is Montana’s number 1 industry, cattle being the largest commodity with $1,783,908,000 in sales. The 2012 market value of all Montana agricultural products sold was $4,230,083,000, ranking 29th in the U.S.
  10. Each year, farms and ranches contribute $3,516,180,000 to the Montana economy in purchasing power. The average annual net farm income is $41,855.

Have questions or suggested topics for this 30 day series? Leave them in the comments section below or email

Here is a list of all the bloggers participating in the challenge. Be sure to click on over and show your support for their blogging efforts too!