“Any advantage we can give to our producers, we will,” says Darrin Boss, superintendent of the Northern Agricultural Research Center (NARC) at Havre.
For over 100 years, NARC has been conducting and promoting scientific investigations, studies, and experiments to better serve the agricultural community, all the while providing outreach to non-producers in Montana.
“Less than two percent of the world is in ag production,” explains Boss. “Even in rural settings, people are drawing back further from ag. We want to give our ag community the opportunity to showcase how Montana feeds the world.”
To that end, NARC’s Field Day and Ag Appreciation Banquet are incredibly useful in cultivating relationships between producers and everyday Montanans. The annual event brings in approximately 300-500 people to learn about new developments in (localized) agricultural research, share a meal, and celebrate the successes of Montana’s agriculturists and ag advocates.
“I would encourage producers who attend regularly Field Days to bring a neighbor so they can experience the program,” says Doug Kallenberger, chairman of the Havre Area Chamber’s Agri-business Committee. “They will be able to see what the Northern Ag Research Center does for our community and provide input on future projects.”
Field Day offers a tour of NARC at Fort Assinniboine (a facility of Montana State University). Several guest speakers will deliver presentations on NARC research projects and their intended benefits for the local ag community.
NARC has research programs across five counties so that farmers across the state can view the crops most adapted to their region.
“Montana is the number one pulse grower in the nation,” says Boss. “By having locally adapted small grains or pulse research provided by centers, we can help producers make farms more profitable.”
Boss also notes that the top growing wheat varieties in the state have all been developed by MSU research. Beef cattle research at NARC includes epigenetics and neural pathways that impact intake in beef cattle, beef cattle management, and nutrition. Other integrated beef cattle and agronomic research currently involves integrating cover crops into traditional wheat/fallow systems and using beef cattle to graze on produced hay out of the cover crops, replacing fallow.
“Montana is one of the highest quality wheat producers. We’re the largest beef cattle seed stock producers in the world,” he says. “What the producers do in this state, they do very well. Our job is to allow farms and ranches to hand this way of life and the operations to the next generation.”
The more support producers have, the better, which is why Field Days are so important. If the public doesn’t understand the obstacles that farmers and ranchers face, how can they offer solutions?
It’s an eye-opening day, but Boss and Kallenberger assure that it’s a lot of fun too. After an afternoon of filling their minds, attendees fill their stomachs with a great meal, all the while enjoying the fellowship of friends and community members.
“What I love is getting to see the community all together and enjoying a good meal while touring our Northern Ag Research Center,” says Kallenberger.
The Ag Appreciation Banquet includes a free steak dinner, sponsored by local agri-businesses, and the celebration concludes with an awards ceremony for Outstanding Agriculture Leader and Outstanding Agriculture Advocate (presented by Havre Area Chamber’s Agri-business Committee).
When asked who this event is designed for, Boss says, “Anyone involved in ag.”
He quickly adds, “Of course, it could be argued that anyone that eats food is involved in agriculture.”
We all have a stake in our ag community’s success.
The Northern Ag Research Center is located at 3710 Assinniboine Road south of Havre. For more information, visit agresearch.montana.edu/narc or call (406) 265-6115.