Farming still holds a prosperous place among Montana’s rich landscape
by DILLON TABISH & STEVE LARSON
Agriculture has been a cornerstone of Montana’s economy and an important facet of the state’s identity for generations. Even though the overall number of farms has decreased and the average farmer is grayer in the 21st century, the industry remains a prosperous part of the landscape. Profits rose by 50 percent between 2007 and 2012, and there were 91 more Montana farmers under the age of 35 in 2012 than five years earlier. The number of farms under 50 acres also increased by 504, according to the latest preliminary data from a U.S. government agriculture census, released in late February.
“Montana is really proud of our agricultural growth; a lot of the growth can be attributed to our high-quality product, aggressive marketing, and the rapid expansion of dry peas and lentils on fallow ground. Agriculture continues to be Montana’s number one industry.”
– Ron de Yong, director of Montana’s Department of Agriculture and a native of the Flathead Valley who grew up farming on a family plot near Creston