Submitted by Montana Grain Growers Association

Montana’s prairies bloom with life and activity, as spring and summer force winter into retirement. The birds, which retreated to warmer climes in late fall, return to set up their ambitious housekeeping, singing, scolding, and maybe just talking about the weather. Plants of all varieties send new shoots out to capture the longer days, and our native animals gain a spring in their step with the new bounty.

Like the rest of creation, our farmers return to their fields to grow the crops gracing our tables throughout the year. Those who travel our prairie, whether they live in our cities or are one of the millions of visitors to our beautiful state, might wonder, “Where do farmers go (or maybe what do they do) in the winter?”

Farmers come in all flavors, just as the general population, but Montana’s typical farmer who relies on growing crops as a livelihood has a full plate year-round. While spring, summer, and early fall bring focus on tending the grains which feed millions of people here and around the globe, there is plenty of work to do in the so-called “off season.”

After the harvesting of the year’s crops and after the planting of winter wheat and care for the recently harvested land, late fall is the time for taking care of infrastructure on the farm—buildings, water systems and any outdoor work that may have been deferred in the heat of the summer priorities.

Meeting season begins with the advent of colder weather. This is that optimistic time of year when farmers gather together and work together to share new ideas with one another, with research scientists (because farmers are ultimately in the science business), and with those who supply farmers with the tools to do their work. A key part of this collaboration, for those farmers who view their responsibility as a business, is their common association in Montana Grain Growers (MGGA).

For nearly 70 years, MGGA has been a common denominator for farmers who rely on the earth, the weather, and one another for their livelihood. Meeting season is a time for sharing knowledge and expertise, and farmers’ alliance through their organization brings efficiency to the process.

While winter brings the trucking of grain and the repair of equipment in the farmer’s shop, reliance on one another and on their common interest in banding together brings a common purpose to farmers’ passion.

Where do farmers go in the winter? To one another, and their common goal of putting quality food on your table.