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.

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.

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.

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!!

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.