Agriculture

Sterling Small

On this episode of Field Days, persistent rain keeps rancher Sterling Small from getting into the hills to check on his new calf crop and seeding the barley he'll use for forage next winter, so he decided to head to Oklahoma to compete in an Indian Rodeo.


U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Congress this week that American farmers are facing plenty of challenges and deep uncertainty.

“Our farm economy is down by about a 50-percent drop in net income from where it was in 2013 as you all were contemplating the ’14 Farm Bill" Perdue says. "We’ve got several members who – particularly younger farmers – have levered up in this situation where their revenue is not supporting their debt structure and they’re in some dire straits.” 

The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

Field Days: Rain

May 17, 2017
courtesy Sterling Small

On this episode of Field Days, host Sarah Brown talks to rancher Sterling Small about wet weather on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.

Sterling Small (middle) holds his son Isaac with his cousin Davetta Archambeau
courtesy Sterling Small

On this episode of Field Days, host Sarah Brown discusses how rancher Sterling Small runs his ranching operation with the help of his extended family on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.


courtesy Sterling Small

In the debut of Field Days, host Sarah Brown introduces us to rancher Sterling Small, who comes from a long tradition of farming and ranching on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.

One of the first things homesteaders did after moving west was to plant fruit trees– apples, pears, apricots, plums and cherries. If they didn't grow it, they didn't eat it. 

As commercial produce became more available, many trees were neglected.  But remnants of these bygone orchards dot the state.

As Sarah Kanter Brown reports, interest in these accidental survivors is on the rise.


Powerful Pulses

Oct 17, 2016

The region’s next big ag project may have nothing to do with wheat or cattle. 

It all about pulses:  dried beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas.  Montana’s farmers have been seeding pulses like crazy in recent years.  Now, a group wants to build a manufacturing plant in Great Falls to further capitalize on the wonder crop.   

“We are ripe for a pea fractionation facility,” said Jolene Schalper, director of business development at the Great Falls Development Authority.

The Governor’s Local Food and Agriculture Summit will be held later this month in Bozeman.  It’s been nearly a decade since former Governor Brian Schweitzer convened the last Summit, a sort of pop-up food think tank, and in that time the state’s local food scene has changed. 

“Nationwide, this focus on local foods has grown dramatically,” said Annie Heuscher, director of the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez / MSU

An international team of scientists is a step closer to producing higher protein, better quality wheat and barley.   That’s a potential boon for Montana’s beleaguered farmers, hit by commodity prices so low in recent years many are wondering how they’re going to survive.

It all starts with Dr. Hikmet Budak, Montana State University’s first Plant Sciences Endowed Chair.  His endowed chair is the highest academic award a university can bestow on a faculty member.