The Montana Wheat & Barley Committee
It has been said that Montana has some of the best Wheat and Barley across the country, and most Montanans would agree to that statement without needing any additional proof. But it is organizations like the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee that assist in not only proving those claims to be fact, but also assist in improving crop yield as research and development continues to improve and lead towards heartier crops.
Founded in 1967, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee was created to assist farmers in reaching foreign markets. The Committee is producer- funded, and producer-run and operating expenses are provided by a self-imposed, refundable assessment on wheat and barley grown and sold in Montana.
Use of these funds is determined by a seven-director board, appointed by the governor. Directors must be actively involved in farming, and in addition to serving on the MWBC board, they serve as representatives in many of the programs the assessment directly funds. In addition to the seven voting, farmer-directors, there are three non-voting members: the Director of the State Department of Agriculture, the College of Agriculture Dean at Montana State University, and a representative of the Montana grain trade. The Committee is attached to the Montana Department of Agriculture for administrative purposes.
A refundable barley check-off was added in 1973 and eventually the original name, the Montana Wheat Research and Marketing Committee, was changed to the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC), reflecting this additional commodity responsibility. The Committee office is headquartered in Great Falls at 300 Park Dr. S, Suite 104, and is managed by a five-person staff.
Up to 80% of Montana’s agricultural products are exported to markets like the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea. Asia being the largest client of Montana’s agricultural products. This is why the MWBC focuses its efforts in those countries and travels to those clients to provide education and introduce clients to the quality of Montana’s agricultural products. Then opportunities are offered to those clients to come to Montana as “Trade Teams” and see the products and facilities for themselves, which results in 2-3 day trips where the red carpet is rolled out for clients who are prepared to pay a premium for Montana quality. This direct method of welcoming buyers to Montana to see the products for themselves allows Montana producers to remain fresh in their minds, and assists in building lasting relationships. These trips often provide clients an educational experience as they see how Montana grades its crops, and the trip becomes quite an enjoyable experience as they get a taste of the Montana culture.They are stunned by the vastness of our plains, and are impressed at the scope and scale of Montana family farms that have become corporations to keep up with the demand. Much of the large equipment used is so different from where they grew up.
Research funding and the scope of projects, including variety breeding, work on disease resistance, winter hardiness, fertilizer use, storage conditions, insects, and tillage practices has expanded considerably over the years. The Montana Wheat and Barley Committee works with MSU (Montana State University to develop improved varieties. One of those varieties is called Bobcat Winter Wheat that has a resistance against sawflies, which is a breed of insect that cuts the stalk at its base and topples crops causing a loss of yield. By strengthening the stalks of Montana’s crops, they fight the infestation without use of pesticides or chemicals keeping them in their most natural raw state. This is one of several varieties of Winter Wheat that is developed to meet Montana’s climate and is resistant to common diseases and pests found statewide. MSU also conducts research into spring wheat, durum, and barley, all of which are some of the highest quality products offered across the United States. Montana ranks first nationally in the production of certified organic wheat and third in the production of all wheat and barley.
Montana is also known for its quality two-row barley, not only selling domestically but exporting heavily to Lethbridge Canada and Mexico for their malt barley breweries. We have also seen several new breweries make Montana their home base due to the ease of access to the product.
Montana Wheat and Barley Committee would like to thank all of Montana’s customers both domestic and abroad for purchasing our high-quality grain and barley which makes up some of the highest quality in the world. For more information on the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee visit montanawbc.com.
- A combine can harvest enough wheat in nine seconds to make seventy loaves of bread
- The vast majority of Montana’s exported winter wheat is used for oriental noodles
- 60-80% of our wheat production goes to the PNW for export
- Next to rice, wheat is the second most consumed calories in the world. In some countries it is the primary source of protein
- In 2020 the average US citizen ate 131 lbs of wheat, Montana produced 11.94 billion pounds of wheat… We feed 91 million US citizens
- In 2020, Montana’sBarley production equaled 13.5 BILLION cans of beer, serving every adult on the planet at least two Montana cervezas!