5 questions with ... Tom DePuydt, farmer/rancher, Saco, Mont.

Q: How has agriculture shaped your life? As a young kid, agriculture was huge part of all my activities at home. I remember always being outside doing chores, not because I was asked, but because I wanted to do them. After finishing high school, ...

Tom DePuydt, Farmer/Rancher from Saco, Mont. (Submitted photo)
Tom DePuydt, Farmer/Rancher from Saco, Mont. (Submitted photo)

Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?

As a young kid, agriculture was huge part of all my activities at home. I remember always being outside doing chores, not because I was asked, but because I wanted to do them. After finishing high school, I didn't know where my future would take me. I thought it would be best to get a degree that I could use on the farm and ranch when I came back to the family operation. I worked in town for several years after finishing college. Every morning went to work realizing I was doing something I really didn't want to do for the rest of my life. Now back on the farm and ranch, I love to get up and go to work. I have found my calling.

Q: What is the greatest challenge you face on your ranch today and what ideas or solutions do you have to address it?

Finding time for my family and community activities, on top of day-to-day work can be a challenge. Everyone is busy trying to find the balance to make a difference in their business, community and families' lives. Sometimes it feels there are not enough hours in a day or days in a week. However, we are going to hold firm and not let unnecessary work encroach into our Sundays. If the work can't get done in six days, it either should wait or we shouldn't do it.

Farming has changed. In addition to our cow-calf operation, we raise small grains and pulse crops. We have diversified into new crops and more crop rotations which has allowed for more acres to be seeded each year. With all of these changes, we are more aware there is no longer a slow time of the year. I sometimes wonder - have we stretched ourselves too far? Can we afford to hire another person? Where can we find a qualified person? Where has our community gone? Decisions on how to move forward are in the works.


We certainly have other challenges as well. Most are common to many in agriculture and other sectors of the economy. These commonalities of challenges, I believe, are symptoms of larger problems looming over this country.

Q: What are your future goals for your ranch and/or for Montana or American agriculture as a whole?

Like many farms and ranches in America, we all have family traditions and beliefs we want to hold on to. Those common traditional values are what this country was founded on. Over time and with each generation, it appears many of those values have been diluted or just plain forgotten. Those values need to be reinforced in our country and the reinforcement needs to start at the local level in our homes, communities, churches and schools. When the opportunity arises, I try to help inform the uninformed and misinformed. We need to use our voice to educate those who do not understand how we practice farming and ranching so they become our advocates instead of our adversaries.

Q: If you could share a message with a large group of people, what would your message be and why?

Owning private property is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, part of which is to keep it entirely privately owned, now and into the future. Serve God and serve your community. Take your family to church. In a nutshell, when we truly care about people, everything else falls into place.

Q: If you could pick anyone as your mentor, who would it be and why?

Perhaps someone like C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton. I enjoy their books and wish I had read their works when I was young, when I thought I knew everything. Their deep thinking and ability to put things into perspective may have had a profound effect on me earlier in life. However, I still have much to learn.

Tom DePuydt is third generation ag producer on a farm and ranch which his grandfather homesteaded 100 years ago. Tom and his wife Joy, son Kurt along with Tom's brother Brian and his family, run a cow-calf and farming operation north of Saco, Mont. Tom can be found on Facebook, or email him at .

Related Topics: FARMING
What To Read Next
As Mikkel Pates approaches his retirement from Agweek after 44 years in journalism, he talks to Rose Dunn about learning TV, covering ag's characters and scandals and looking toward the future.
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.
Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Growers Association were pleased with items in Gov. Tim Walz's "One Minnesota Budget" proposal.
John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation recently announced they had come to an agreement that will lead to more accessible repairs to John Deere equipment.