Recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to a study examining the economic contributions of Hutterite communities in Montana. The study was jointly prepared by Pat Barkey of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, George Haynes of Montana State University Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics and myself (also with MSU DAEE). The basic research question the study examines is “What would the economy of the state of Montana look like if Hutterite communities were not here?”
As a native of north central Montana, I had many different interactions with Hutterite community members over the years in both personal and professional settings. I also was aware that there were many things I didn’t know about these communities. Some were simple facts like how many colonies are in Montana? How many people live on a typical colony? What role do they play in hog production? Do they play a large role in beef cattle production? This list could go on and on. When this project first came to my attention, I knew it was a rare opportunity to be able examine production and demographic data from Hutterite communities. Many other Montanans probably have similar questions about Hutterite Communities as well. Although this study doesn’t answer all the questions that people may have about these communities, it does provide some insights into their role in agricultural production across the state and the economic impact of that production. The full study can be found here.