Sen. Tester takes Advantage of Recess


It is that time of the year again; farmers all over Montana are harvesting their crops after a long summer. One farmer in Big Sandy is doing as much as he can while the US Senate is in recess.

US Senator Jon Tester is busy harvesting his wheat this week. The Senate is on a five week recess, a time historically meant to allow senators who farm a chance to harvest. But now, Senator Tester is the only senator who is fully active and engaged in farming.

“This is payday for farmers. We get it once a year and it’s called harvest time. We have to get it in the bin before hailstorms get it or the moisture gets it because we’ve been getting a lot of erratic weather, which is typical,” Senator Tester says.

Senator Tester grows organic spring and winter wheat on his 1800 acre farm near Big Sandy. And says he enjoys coming back to his roots. “It gives me a good break, it brings me back to reality. The combine doesn’t care if you’re a senator or not. It breaks down whenever it wants to break down,” he says.

His grandfather started the farm and it has stayed in the family ever since. The Testers have lived here for almost 100 years and Senator Tester still does all his own farming regularly. “It’s been good to our families. This place has supported two families for most of its existence. The good Lord’s been good to us. My Grand Pa picked the right spot,” Tester says.

He says even senators run across problems while farming. “Swath it down because of the sawflies, got to get it before they get it. We just started in the spring wheat, swathing it down yesterday. And there’s actually more sawfly damage in it than there was in the winter [wheat].They’ve become a problem over the last 10 years. It seems like they’ve gotten progressively worse,” he says.

Tester says we went organic about 20 years ago to add value to the crop. And says he understands firsthand how important agriculture is to Montana. Saying, “Agriculture built this state, I think, Agriculture and mining. And it’s still a huge, huge part of this state’s economy.”

The Senator says high wheat prices will help the economy, because when farmers have money they spend it. He hopes to finish harvesting this week and then will tour Montana taking input from the citizens and bringing it back to Washington.