Eric Markegard is one of the top alfalfa seed producers in the state of Montana. He's been one of the top producers for several years. But, farming runs in his blood and he can't imagine doing anything else. At a time nationally when fewer are going into to farming, he's a great example of the still strong agricultural base of our Montana economy.
You're dedicated to farming-a tough business. Why is this your passion?
From a very young age, I knew farming was all that I wanted to do and there was no other career that I had any interest in.
Being a third generation farmer: Is that more difficult because it runs in the family or does it make it easier?
Being a third generation farmer has definitely been an advantage for me. Between my father and my grandfather there isn't a problem or scenario that they couldn't relate to for advice.
You are also knowing for mentoring folks just getting into farming. Why?
There aren't very many young farmers in the area but if a neighbor needs some help, we are always glad to lend a hand or offer advice.
What is the one piece of advice you'd give to others?
Don't be afraid to try new things and not everything you do is going to turn out the way you had planned but that doesn't make it a failure.
Why have you chosen to grow alfalfa seed?
I chose to raise alfalfa seed because it is what I grew up doing and I have always enjoyed all of the aspects of producing seed from the pollination of the alfalfa using leaf cutter bees to the daily management in season and through harvest.
What keeps you continuing in farming?
What keeps me continuing to farm is the fact that every year brings new challenges and circumstances. We are always trying to improve on what we have done in years past and maintain our farm to pass on to our kids, if and when they want to farm.
What is a good day at the farm for you?
A good day at the farm would consist of a smooth day of harvest with one or all of my boys there to tag along.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My father and grandfather have always been my biggest inspiration.
What do you wish more people knew about farming in this area?
I believe a lot people think that most of our time is spent in tractors and equipment when in fact it is just a small portion of our job. A lot of our time is spent scouting fields for problems related to insects, lack of moisture and/or diseases. Even with the technology today we still have a lot of physical labor that we have to do on a daily basis and the amount of time we actually spend in a tractor per year is minimal.
What do you do when you are not farming?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids. Our boys keep us busy running with all of the activities that they are involved in. We try to make the most of the winter before we get real busy again.