Montana Landscapes: Deep-Rooted Purpose of Supporting Agriculture
Article featured in Land Investor Volume 4 by Kimberly Lowry, Broker Associate, Fay Ranches, Montana
After the snow melts and the grass begins to green, a renewed sense of optimism fills the air as newborn calves dot the Montana landscape each spring. Producers across the state consider their previous breeding decisions while busying themselves planning and preparing for the next calving season.
With a gestation period of 283 days, give or take a few, planning for the following calving season often begins well before calving has completed for the year. Bull selection is a critical component of the planning process to meet goals with a cowherd and to complement the genetics of the cattle on the ranch.
Recently, I had an opportunity to accompany a client and friend to the Leachman Angus Ranch bull sale in Toston, Montana and assist in his selection of bulls to complement his cows. Montana bull sales always seem to offer high-quality options for buyers from across the state and the nation, and the 2018 Leachman Angus Ranch bull sale did not disappoint.
After the sale, I was able to visit with Kurt Kangas, Regional Manager for the American Angus Association in Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. I first met Kurt several years ago when he was hired by a ranch client of mine to evaluate the range component of a ranch that my client was working to buy. With a degree from Montana State University in range management, I have found Kurt to be a straight shooter who always has an ear to the ground and significant knowledge to share.
According to Kangas, who has attended a good majority of bull sales across the state, 2018 figures represent a notable increase in prices, with bulls up almost $450, and replacement bred heifers nearly $250 higher per head than one year ago. As a real estate broker specializing in working cattle ranches, I appreciate the enthusiasm in the cattle market, which in turn creates buyer demand for ranch properties in the West.
Agriculture is the number one industry in Montana, where there are 2.55 million head which equates to roughly two-and-a-half times more head of cattle than people. With that in mind, it is no surprise that Montana ranchers take great pride in their cattle and strive to provide high-quality animals to buyers both nationwide and internationally. In fact, cattle and calves are currently the number one commodity in Montana, followed by wheat and hay respectively. These figures are representative of a state where agricultural roots run deep, and the landscape reflects the history of land use. Approximately 64% of Montana land area is dedicated to agriculture, including both ranches and farms. According to the Montana Wilderness Association, another 29% of land statewide is preserved for public enjoyment and use and includes US Forest Service, National Park, BLM, state and Fish, Wildlife and Parks lands. Agricultural and public lands make up a combined total of 94% of the land across the state. This makes Montana a unique, desirable, and largely untouched landscape for people seeking a laid-back, outdoors-focused lifestyle in a location where you can get away from the big city and get in touch with nature.
As land brokers at Fay Ranches, we each have a personal appreciation for the land, and enjoy working with buyers and sellers of some of the finest agricultural properties throughout the west. Several Fay Ranches brokers also raise livestock and have firsthand knowledge of the agricultural industry, and serve as excellent resources for buyers searching for production properties. We can recommend a variety of excellent resources available for those new to the livestock industry who wish to own a ranch and begin an adventure in agriculture. And Montana is the perfect place to do it.
To learn more about farm and ranch properties for sale throughout Montana and the west, please contact a Fay Ranches broker today.
KIMBERLY LOWRY BROKER ASSOCIATE Licensed in: MT (406) 490-4323
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