Brian Schweitzer was born and raised on his parents’ cattle ranch in Judith Basin, on the Great Plains of Eastern Montana. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international agronomy from Colorado State University, and a master of science in soil science from Montana State University.
Schweitzer brings a global perspective to his job as Governor. As a young agronomist, Schweizer went overseas and worked for a decade to bring American agricultural methods to the developing world. In Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, and during seven years in Saudi Arabia, he oversaw large-scale irrigation projects and the construction of several of the world’s largest dairies.
Schweitzer returned to Montana in 1986 to raise a family and begin ranching, and became active in farm and rural policy. In 1993 he was appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the USDA Farm Service Agency committee Montana, and later served on the National Drought Task Force and the Montana Rural Development partnership Board. In 1999, he decided to run for the U.S. Senate as an unknown candidate, against a strong incumbent whom he narrowly missed defeating.
Schweitzer was elected governor in 2006. In his first year in office, he received high marks for delivering on his priorities outlined on inauguration day: Incentives for bio-fuel and wind-energy production; an historic increase in public education spending along with a balanced budget and no new taxes; stronger protection of public lands for hunting, fishing and camping and a purchasing-pool for small businesses who want to buy health insurance for workers but cannot afford it.
Schweitzer has also become a leading voice on national resource issues, ranging from bison management in Yellowstone National Park, the importation of infected cattle from Canada, and American dependence on foreign oil. He has been a vocal proponent of increased domestic production of clean energy and biofuels to replace foreign oil. Schweitzer’s proposal for making synthetic petroleum out of coal—as they do in South Africa—while capturing and sequestering greenhouse-gases such as carbon dioxide, has received national attention. In this regard, he is perhaps the only governor whose vehicles are powered by both biodiesel and ultra-clean diesel from coal.