REAL Montana Tours China


On Sunday night the 18th, the inaugural Class of REAL Montana returned from a major highlight of their two-year leadership training program:  an exciting 10-day agricultural tour of China!

The itinerary included: 

  • Visits to a wheat farm, cattle feedlot, soybean oil processing company, milk processing company, and open pit coal mine
  • An official visit with Ambassador Max Baucus at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing
  • Official briefings and a retail tour from the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office and U.S. Meat Export Federation in Shanghai
  • Cultural tours of the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Dazhao Temple, and the Bund waterfront in Shanghai 
  • Meals and meetings with local Chinese farmers and families


Several members of the REAL Montana have taken the time to share their experiences in China with the Voices Of Montana (VOM) program.  Below is the interview with Brian Mussard, a cattle rancher from Dillon,  who called in while in Shanghai with his impressions after a week in China.  Click the link below to listen to Mussard's interview with VOM host, Aaron Flint.  


The picture above, provided by Whitney Klasna, is the REAL Montana Leadership Class I on the Great Wall of China near Beijing. 
From Left to Right: 
Back row: Joe Dooling, Helena; Daniel Jones, Conrad; Andy Matakis, Havre; Dan Kerslake, Stevensville; Scott Blain, Joliet; Bruce Wright, Bozeman; Daniel Weaver, Big Sandy; Cindy Denning, Sun River; Shaud Schwarzbach, Big Sandy; Tyler Smith, Havre; Bryan Mussard, Dillon
Front row: Dave Phillips (REAL MT Advisory Board Member), Lewistown; Walt Anseth, Helena; Tara Becken, Billings; Kate Vogel, Ballantine; Kristen Krueger, Kalispell; Breahna Patten, Broadus; Whitney Klasna, Lambert; Janelle Booth (REAL MT Program Director), Bozeman

The extreme contrast from state of the art manufacturing to farming practicing 30-50 years behind the times made a huge impression. on the group. Breahna Patten from Broadus, was struck the amount of opportunities available for people interested in China's agricultural development.  “It also really struck me with the huge contrasts, we constantly heard that they were trying to become more self sufficient, yet had a very advanced dairy running just over 50{18648621dc58566f60964eb5074c58f5f97501fe95033d5d25ee4862e704a74a} capacity.”  Kate Vogel, from Ballantine, noted the issues with no real land ownership.  She explained that in China, all land is owned by the government and farmers can purchase the right to farm for 70 years.  With the uncertainty of retaining the right to farm that property in the future, little consideration has been given to improving soil or land health for the future.  

The two-year REAL Montana leadership training program will wrap up with a graduation ceremony in May.  Applications for Class TWO of REAL Montana will open in the next few weeks.  Go to for information.



© Northern Ag Network 2015


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