Senator Tester planting crops, discusses Farm Bill


by Cody Proctor

NEAR BIG SANDY — With dust in the air and a new tractor in the field, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is in his element, planting the seeds for this year’s crop of lentils, barley, and peas on his farm near Big Sandy.

“We’ve got a busy spring planting season ahead of us and we’ve got good moisture, which is a good thing and they’re predicting some more rain in the next couple of days, so trying to get some legumes now. Hopefully get some grains in a little later.”

Tester is taking advantage of a break from Washington D.C. by getting some work done.

And his planting season comes on the heels of the passing of the $1 trillion Farm Bill.

After years of debate and discussion, the bill passed in February and included measures such as crop insurance and assistance for young farmers starting out.

Tester says the measures are needed since working with nature’s whims can be a risky business.

He recalls how two years ago, hail destroyed his barley crop: “That’s why you have a Farm Bill. That’s why you have crop insurance. That’s why you have a safety net out there because Mother Nature can be pretty unpredictable and if you get in the wrong path of a hail storm, it can wipe you out if you don’t have a safety net. It can put you out of business.”

But despite the risks, Tester says he plans on farming as long as he can.

“My grandparents homesteaded this place and my folks took it over in the 40s and my wife and I took it over in the 70s, so it is a pretty unique opportunity and experience. It’s something that I love.”

Tester says they’ll harvest the crops planted this spring sometime in August.