On the Trail

Travels with MFBF’s Regional Managers

Montana Farm Bureau wants to keep you “in the know” with the federation’s activities. Tune in regularly to see what your county leaders are up to and how MFBF is promoting agriculture! Nicole, Chelcie and Alena will regularly post pictures, video and short updates about their activities as they travel the state and visit with Montana Farm Bureau members. Please contact your regional manager if you have an event that you would like us to attend and post to our blog.

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October 23rd, 2012: McCloy Fellowship Tours-Part 2

Chelcie Cremer~Central Montana RM

Properly outfitted in MFBF gear!

In the name of saving the best for last, John and I were lucky enough to host the McCloy Fellows on the final leg of their tour through Montana.  Beginning bright and early, we started the day with a stop at the MFBF office in Bozeman.  There the McCloy’s had the opportunity to meet the remainder of the MFBF staff and to be sure they were properly outfitted in MFBF apparel for the rest of their journey.   From there we traveled east, first stopping at the Park County Stockyards where we met tour guide Jacquie Nelson and 8-month-old daughter, Morgan.  It was shipping day for the Nelson’s and their family had gathered with neighbors to help haul newly weaned calves to be weighed, sorted, and loaded onto waiting semi’s.  Jacquie explained the process to our four guests and guided us through the hustle and bustle of pickups and trailers, bawling calves, slamming gates, and small children with sorting sticks.  After observing the sorting and weighing process and participating in the most important part-doughnuts and coffee with the locals-Jacquie took us back to the Nelson Spring Creek Ranch to continue our tour.  On top of the ranch, the Nelson’s have

Jacquie discusses how ranchers in Montana ship cattle.

 long been involved in aquaculture and Jacquie and her husband, Tucker, spend a good deal of time in the summer guiding anglers on the Yellowstone River.  Jacquie explained to the McCloys how the spring creek, which remains the same temperature throughout the year, offers a unique fishing opportunity for sportsmen.  Nelson’s raise trout for customers looking to stock ponds, reservoirs, or creeks; they have specialized runs fed with fresh water directly from the spring creek and they sell fish at three different sizes.

Brian gave the group some delicious jerky samples.

Our next stop took us to Pioneer Meats where owner Brian Engle provided a tour of his facility.  Currently under construction, Brian is adding more freezer space, a larger processing and packaging area, as well as, a retail space where he can sell his specialty spices, jerky, sausages, and brats directly to consumers.  He buys cattle from local producers, which he uses to make his specialty products.  Brian explained to the group how he develops and markets his own spices and different meat products.  All of which will be available in his new retail area.  This is the third expansion project for Pioneer Meats in eight years, but Brian told the group this will most likely be the last.  He said he wants to run an efficient business supplying jobs to the local economy, but he doesn’t want to outgrow himself or the community.  Brian and his crew at Pioneer Meats served up a delicious lunch of barbecued beef brisket and then we were back on the road!

We continued east to Origen, south of Billings, where Jared Murnin gave us a tour of the collection facility.  After stepping through a water bath at the front door, we toured the storage facility. The room was full of massive stainless steel tanks filled with liquid nitrogen and thousands of straws of semen.  Bulls kept at Origen undergo a quarantine period and rigorous health testing before they are collected.  Jared and members of his staff explained to the group how ranchers and seed stock producers send bulls to Origen for the health screening and collection process to preserve their genetics.  Origen sends lots of semen to international customers, which was of special interest to the McCloys.  Jared discussed with the group how different countries require different health screenings before they will approve shipments.  We took a brief tour of one the barns housing many different breeds of bulls currently residing at Origen.

Learning about the collection process at Origen.

Our last stop of the day took us to the sugar beet pile in Huntley where beet growers Leroy and Sydney Gabel visited with the group.  Sugar beets are a common crop grown in Germany, so this stop was a great opportunity

The beginning and end products.

 for the McCloys to discuss an industry much closer to home.  Farmers were able to harvest the crop quickly this year due to great weather conditions, so there wasn’t any beet digging to be seen.  However, there was still plenty of great discussion.  Many of the seed companies U.S. farmers use are used in Germany.  The McCloys were able to add a different perspective to the discussion as GMO crops are not authorized for use in the European Union and nearly all sugar beets grown in the U.S. are GMO’s.  Probably the greatest part of any of these visits is the relationships formed between our guests and the tour guides.  This stop was no different.  The Gabel’s are visiting their son in Germany over Christmas and now have plans to tour the area with Andrea, who lives near their son. 

As the day was winding down, our fun was just beginning!  The NILE was well underway and I had the opportunity to take the McCloys to their very first rodeo.  After a quick pit-stop at the hotel and sending John on his way, we made our way back across town to the Metra and got settled in for a great evening.  The NILE rodeo never disappoints and some excellent rodeo athletes treated our guests to a great performance!  This tour was really a wonderful experience for everyone involved.  The McCloys determined that Sue Ann and I view yellow lights at an intersection as a challenge, and that, luckily, all MFBF staff are brimming with useless knowledge about Montana.  All joking aside, they were captivated by our wide-open spaces and breathe taking views and I was able to see our great state through their eyes as well.  It reminded me what a truly remarkable place we get to call home.  It was a great privilege to spend the day with these folks and I hope I will get to see them again one day.  I will echo what Alena said in Part 1…it was VERY hard to say goodbye!  I’m glad we had the opportunity to host the McCloy Fellows and everyone in Montana wishes them the very best on the rest of the trip.

We're going to the rodeo!

 Check out Facebook for more pictures of the tours!


October 23rd, 2012: McCloy Fellowship Tours Montana- Part 1

Alena Ogg Standley, Western Regional Manager

As part of the McCloy Fellowship, four individuals from the German agriculture industry landed in Great Falls, Montana, on Monday, October 15th. They were met by two eager tour guides, myself and my husband. They seemed excited to be in the Big Sky State and were eager with questions even after a long day of traveling. The first of which was directed at my husband, Todd, and it was an enthusiastic, “Are you a real Montana cowboy?”.  A bit bashfully, he answered, “I guess”- and that was all they needed to hear! We were off on an adventure of sorts, but more importantly, an incredible opportunity for tour guides and guests alike to make some new friends while learning and comparing agriculture industries.

Sue Ann and I decided that you can’t land in the Golden Triangle of Montana without spending a day showcasing our grain industry. The McCloy’s followed a sample of Montana wheat through the age-old tests performed at the State Grain Lab. Jeff Rumney showed how they measure the weight of the grain and test for protein and quality. Our guests were very impressed at the quality of the sample and joked that we had rigged it. Luckily, that sample scored only average on the scale for Montana’s excellent wheat crop.

The McCloy's listen to Jeff Rumney explain the testing process at the State Grain Lab.

Our next stop was at Torgerson’s LLC on Machinery Row in Great Falls. The larger-than-life combines and tractors made a great backdrop for photos and also stirred up many questions about the equipment needed by Montana’s farmers and Ranchers. The company boasts equipment with the latest GPS, auto-steering, and computers in the industry. The McCloy’s noted that the greatest difference between American and German agriculture is the sheer scale that our producers operate on, therefore, the need for very large equipment that is designed with efficiency as a priority.

Torgersons LLC generously presented Jorn, Roger, Andrea, and Matthias with hats and model tractors.

After a tasty lunch at McKenzie River Pizza Co. we kept up our travels through the grain industry and visited the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. Kim Falcon did an excellent job explaining our grain industry to the Germans and explained the challenges and opportunities that producers face. She travels the world building relations with customers that seek top-of-the-line wheat and barley and she has a great depth of knowledge about the industry.

Roger and Andrea listen to Kim Falcon at the Wheat and Barley Committee.

We finished our day with a stop at Columbria Grain, Inc. where commodity traders were busy watching the markets, weather, and local and global news. We visited about the daily tasks of a grain trader and how they have to remain current with news events and weather across the world in order to anticipate commodity prices. It was also explained how many of the commodities will affect one another, simply due to speculation. The McCloys were able to ask questions and learn the perspective of the elevator and the buyer.

Tuesday night, we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Cattlemen’s Cut with Joe and Julie Garrity. They graciously hosted us and explained their roles as county Farm Bureau leaders and why it is important to them to remain active.

Wednesday morning started bright and early with an interview with Jim Sargent on KMON radio. Then we hit the road for the Wheat Montana Bakery in Three Forks. The tour of the bakery was fascinating as we watched hotdog bun after hotdog bun go from a giant barrel of dough to a slicer, kneader, oven, and cooling racks that ran all over above and beside us. Wheat Montana is the first flour company to package their flour in a re-sealable plastic bag and continue to place their products in stores across the country- hopefully they will be in Germany soon!!

Jim Sargent of KMON radio discusses the trip with Matthias.

Dean Folkvord explains the new Wheat Montana packaging.

Martin Kimm of Kimm’s potato farm met us in Three Forks and we ventured out to his farm. First, we saw the innovative dam system they are using to preserve fresh water from the mountain springs for use in the fields and their homes. Martin and his brother have a beautiful farm with state-of-the art facilities and equipment. The Germans really enjoyed meeting a local producer and hearing their side of the discussion.

At this point, I warned the Germans that their next tour guide (Central Regional Manager, Chelcie Cremer) probably wouldn’t be as much fun or full of useless Montana knowledge, but she would certainly take them through the rest of their tours in Montana!  I found it surprisingly difficult to say goodbye to my new friends. Even after merely two days together, there was a sense of friendship and respect for what each other is doing for the agriculture industry. I want to sincerely thank them for allowing me to be a part of their trip in Montana and I hope that if I ever show up in Germany, I will be able to visit them all.

October 17th, 2012:

Nicole Rolf- Eastern Montana Regional Manager

Question: How do you know it’s County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting “Season?”

Answer: You’ve driven through Circle, MT four different times going four different directions in less than a week and the passenger seat of your vehicle is littered with candy bars, diet Coke, chips, and beef jerky. 

During the last two weeks of September, I had the privelege of attending eight county Farm Bureau annual meetings on the eastern side of this great state.  For Regional Managers, Annual Meeting Season is an exciting time…the meetings are the main event county Farm Bureaus work towards all membership year.  Each County Farm Bureau annual meeting is unique but yet they all consist of the very imporant parts which make our organization strong, distinctly “grassroots,” and truly exceptional.

Some county Farm Bureau annual meetings host interesting guest speakers or comedians, some show documentaries and others have social hours to entertain members. Some annual meetings feature nice catered dinners, others have delicious potlucks, barbeques, or sweets.  But all county Farm Bureau annual meetings include the following important aspects:

  • Reports – These allow members to hear about all the great things their county Farm Bureau, the Montana Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation have been doing throughout the year.
  • Grassroots Policy Development – This is the keystone of our organization and the aspect that makes us strong.  Every farmer or rancher member has a chance to have their voice heard and make a difference in their industry by participating in the policy development process.  Our policy ALL starts at the county level, is never dictated by the Board of Directors or staff, and comes directly from farmers and rancher out in the country and all members have a chance to create, change, and vote on policy.
  • Election of Officers and Directors – County Farm Bureaus choose their leaders!
  • Election of Delegates – This is another very important part of the annual meeting! After policy is passed at the county level, it must be passed at the state level to become MFBF policy. Counties get to elect a number of delegates based on the size of the membership, who will go to the MFBF Annual Convention to vote on policies from all the county Farm Bureaus. Filling all the delegate seats at the MFBF Convention assures county Farm Bureaus that they will be well represented. 

I’d like to thank all of you who attended your county Farm Bureau annual meeting and congratulate all the county Farm Bureau leaders for the excellent job they did putting on these important meetings! Farm Bureau is all about the grassroots (YOU FARMERS & RANCHERS), and without you, Farm Bureau would cease to exist!

So thanks again for making Annual Meeting “Season” a success! I look forward to working with you all through another membership year!


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