Meet Montana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Chair, Peter Taylor. Peter ranches in Kirby, MT, in the Wolf Mountains with his family, brothers and parents. Peter’s grandfather purchased the original place in 1947.
The Taylor Ranch runs a commercial herd of predominantly black Angus and black baldies with a few full bred Hereford cows. The ranch puts up 1000-2000 tons of hay per year depending on how much rain they receive in a year. Peter explains that they keep about 150 to 200 replacement heifers (heifer calves who will eventually raise their own calves and replace the older cows who are taken out of the herd) per year, and will usually keep their light steers (castrated male cattle raised for beef) on the ranch at least until they are yearlings (one-year-olds) before they are sold. The replacements and lighter weight calves are fed hay on the ranch during the winter and then turned out into large grass pastures as early as possible in the spring. They have to wait for the snow to melt and the grass to grow sufficiently before they can turn the yearlings into the large pastures so they have enough to eat without supplemental hay feeding.
In addition to raising cattle, the Taylors raise horses. Peter explains that they raise around 12 Thoroughbred brood mares that have been bred to an Argentine Thoroughbred stud. The offspring of that cross are currently being bred to one of two AQHA studs. Peter notes, “We have worked hard to raise horses with good cow sense, and a whole lot of travel and go. It’s not just important to us that they can travel long miles but they also need to be comfortable for the guy on their back.”
As a young rancher who wants to raise his family on the ranch and eventually pass it on to his children, he feels very strongly about two subjects: the federal estate and capital gains taxes and defending agriculture against all of the current attacks.
“Let’s face it, passing on the ranch to the next generation is critical to keeping food production in our country viable, and for our Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, eliminating the estate tax and reducing the capital gains tax on agricultural lands is a number-one priority,” says Peter. “My grandmother passed away two years ago, and we are still waiting to see what the tax bill is on their estate. I truly believe that both the estate tax and capital gains taxes hurt any opportunity ranchers have to grow their businesses. We have three families living on this ranch now, and our chance to grow is extremely difficult. I don’t see how with my kids and my brothers’ kids will be able to pass anything on with enough production value to be significant to them. Land values are so high, many ranches far exceed the estate tax limit. Some ranchers around here have been forced to subdivide the place just to cover their estate tax bill.”
Peter is also very passionate about speaking out for agriculture. “I see a real need for people my age to be talking to their peers and defending agriculture,” Peter says. “It’s great that groups like Farm Bureau educate younger kids about agriculture in the schools, but if those students go home and their parents believe the erroneous articles in The New York Times and TIME, they’ll just undo all the hard work that goes into those programs.”
Peter says his big push is to use social networking venues like Facebook, to talk to his friends and acquaintances and say, “This information is wrong. Now HERE are the facts.”