GLENDIVE, Mont. – The smell of home-cooked beef from the CowBelles wafted throughout the many booths at the 42nd annual Glendive Agri-Trade Expo (GATE), Feb. 14-15 – an ag show where producers took part in educational programs and farmers heard about the latest in seed and chemical technologies, while ranchers viewed new calf huts, tractor front end loaders, and booked their vaccines for the season.

New Dawson County ag Extension agent Jaycee Searer greeted producers as they came by the 4-H booth. Searer helped the 4-H ambassadors by talking about their program to other potential 4-H’ers.

“Growing up, I was always involved in 4-H. I showed market beef, market swine and market goats, so I really enjoy working with the 4-H kids,” Searer said. Her message at the GATE was that all kids, rural and town, could be involved in Dawson County 4-H.

Layne Meick, a 4-H ambassador and FFA student, said she knew one 4-H student who lived in town and her 4-H projects did not involve showing animals.

“4-H is not just for kids on farms and ranches. 4-H is for everyone,” Meick said.

During the morning and early afternoon at the GATE, various ag education seminars were held in the conference room.

From statewide hemp production to controlling Fusarium head blight in crops, to the Montana Department of Ag’s oilseed listening session, producers had a selection of seminars to choose from.

Ben Thomas, Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) director, and Andy Fjeseth, MDA bureau chief of the agriculture development and marketing department, held the oilseed session, a requirement after the department received a legitimate petition to form an advisory committee.

The department has already held one session in Helena.

“We’ve received a petition from 25 oilseed growers who want to create an advisory committee for marketing and research on oilseeds,” Thomas said to the group of attending producers. The oilseeds represented would most likely be canola and flax.

One of the growers in the audience said, “There’s not a huge amount of research on canola or flax being done at the university yet, and we need that.”

Thomas was also looking for oilseed growers who would serve on the advisory committee.

“I hope some of you will sign up and serve,” he added.

In a separate interview at the GATE, Thomas said agriculture was looking up in Montana for 2020.

“Compared to 2018, 2019 was a rough year for Montana producers,” Thomas said. “But with the passing of the trade deals, especially the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and Phase One of the China trade deal, those deals could potentially be huge for producers this year.”

At the hemp seminar, the MDA representatives let producers know it was time to purchase their 2020 Montana state hemp license if they plan to grow hemp this year. Producers have until April 30 to obtain a state hemp license.

At the GATE trade show, the entire center of the floor was filled row after row and box after box with tools for cars, as well as home and specialty tools. Rick Furth, owner of Minnesota Pneumatic Products (MPP), always purchases at least eight booths worth of space to spread out his tools.

“I have only been in Glendive for 24 hours. I’m just returning from Atlantic City where I was selling tools,” Furth said. After attending the MATE trade show in Billings; he will then drive his truck to a Las Vegas trade show.

MPP tools are designed to help work on cars, trucks, boats, planes, as well as farm and ranch equipment.

“We design the tools ourselves, so they have the MPP brand on them,” Furth added.

Walking around the GATE, several FFA members held new lambs in their arms, each one dressed in an outfit made out of a warm blanket in all colors of the rainbow.

At the Dawson County FFA booth, FFA members talked about their chapter, which was formed in 2018.

“The lambs don’t have their coats yet, so they are wearing blankets,” said Leanne Hoagland, FFA advisor at Dawson County High School and co-owner of Big Sky Shires with her husband, Brett. The family raises registered and commercial Hampshire sheep, draft horses, quarter horses and goats.

Hoagland teaches lamb care to those FFA kids who want to show lambs.   

“We have about 20 kids in FFA, 16 active,” said Summer Bickford, an FFA student.

The FFA students are preparing for the 90th annual Montana FFA State Convention, March 25-28, in at the Montana ExpoPark (State Fairgrounds) in Great Falls.

They held a “Kiss-A-Sheep” fund-raiser, where those who donated money for the FFA students to go to the state convention, could nominate someone to kiss a sheep.

“It is a fun fund-raiser, kissing a sheep,” Hoaglund added.

Also at the GATE, the Dawson Community College’s ag department had a booth showcasing what is new in their ag program.

With a giant cow that showed its internal muscular structure, Katie Carrier, animal science instructor, originally from Tennessee, encouraged students coming to the booth to check out their unique ag program.

“I enjoy teaching, but it is not just in the classroom. We like to go out to ranches to learn hands-on. We went out to a ranch to learn about their AI program,” Carrier said.

Students Calder Peterson, from Canada, and Jayce Griffith, from Roundup, were helping her in the booth.

“I grew up around farming and ranching and I am working toward a livestock management degree,” Peterson said.

Griffith said he was interested in a degree in wildlife biology.

Also at the GATE trade show, C&B Operations, the John Deere Implement dealership, displayed equipment for producers to check out. C&B has been at the show for all the 42 years it has been in existence.

The business had a nice John Deere tractor pulling a hay baler in the parking lot. Inside, there was a new tractor front loader that many producers stopped by to see.

While Glendive Tractor Supply gave away wool hats, pens and key chains, and featured drawings for a town package or a farm and ranch package, Safflower Technologies showed the safflower seeds they are contracting with farmers to grow; Sisterly Creations displayed beautiful agates they collected and designed into jewelry themselves; and CHS Farmers Elevator talked to producers about their feed, animal health, fertilizer and chemical needs.

The two-day GATE event, which began on Valentine’s Day, featured agriculture, but with a big emphasis on fun for every member of the family.

At the end, door prizes were awarded, and families went home happy.