Member Profile: The Peterson Ranch
Each month in Montana Grassroots we feature a member’s story. This month we profile MFU Board Member Ben Peterson who runs his family’s ranch in Judith Gap. Ben and his family are legacy members and great ambassadors for Farmers Union and Montana agriculture.
Q. Can you tell us about your family’s background in agriculture?
My grandparents Erling & Marietta Peterson bought the place in 1949 after multiple rough years on the place he grew up on in the Big Sandy/Havre area. The story goes that he loaded the family into the car and drove around the state and bought the greenest ground he could afford. The punchline is that much of the green was leafy spurge! The leafy spurge shaped the beginnings of this ranch by bringing sheep into the equation on top of the cattle and cereal grain operation that is still in operation today. A small feedlot was also built early in the operation. My grandfather paid for the farm with aptitude and buckets and hard work. Grandpa roughly doubled the footprint of the operation then my parents Dean & Trudi increased the size more to its current size of roughly 6,000 acres.
Q. What type of operation is the Peterson Ranch?
The farming operation was the profit center for most of the time my grandfather managed E.L. Peterson Ranch. With my parent’s guidance livestock become the cash cow of the operation. I am expanding the hay ground of the operation and using that hay to create more profit in our feedlot by expanding feeding of outside cattle. We are also dipping our toes into the direct marketing of animal protein to further diversify our operation.