Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Big Sky – Big Opportunities

This morning I had the opportunity to start my day in Big Sky Country where I was invited by Senator Jon Tester to participate in the Small Business Opportunity Workshop hosted at Montana State University.

We have a full house here having reached capacity at 150 attendees with another 80 RSVPs still arriving.  Clearly the word is out on our workshop and the farmers and ranchers of Montana are eager to hear about job creation and economic development opportunities here in the state.

My first role was to moderate the ‘Montana Research Outlook’ panel where I was joined by Mark Peterson, Research leader at USDA’s Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Lab; Steve Anderson, Director of the Montana field office for USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service; Greg Kegel, Dean of MSU Northern; and John Sherwood Department head at MSU’s Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology.

The panelists highlighted how research in the state is helping improve production for Montana farmers and ranchers. Mark Peterson touched on his team’s research into controlled burning as a way to control grasshoppers and John Sherwood talked about his work in photosynthesis research with grains that can result in greater yields and quality.

It is clear to me that the people of Montana are engaged in President Obama’s push to lay a new foundation for economic growth – a push that is fueled by American ingenuity in the laboratory and on the farms and fields of Montana.

Thirty minutes into the panel I have judged it a success! Our first question came from a gentleman who works at an aerospace research facility in Butte where they are testing General Electric jet engines and he said he would like to team up with the researchers to test biofuels in the engines. This is exactly the kind of collaboration that leads to jobs and economic opportunities.

Coming up I will be moderating the ‘Next Generation of Agriculture’ panel and judging by the young faces in the room it will be a good discussion.

Stay tuned…

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan moderates a panel at the Montana Small Business Opportunity Workshop

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan moderates a panel at the Montana Small Business Opportunity Workshop

Leave a Reply