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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
It 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Montana ranks number 10 in the country for number of cattle and calves; number 7 for the number of sheep and lambs (236.646).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com.
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