It must have been fate because all that the 20-year-old Jeff VanPevenage wanted to do was trade wheat. While finishing his senior year of college at Washington State University, VanPevenage started with Columbia Grain International (CGI), LLC.
Shortly thereafter, he transferred to Great Falls, Montana, where he spent six years trading durum, oats, and barley.
“I was a wheat trader,” VanPevenage said. “I didn’t want anything to do with peas and lentils.”
However, VanPevenage didn’t fight the Northwest region’s movement toward growing more pulses.
“In the early- and mid-2000s, pulses were really taking hold with farmers in the Northern Plains, and they needed somewhere to go with their product,” he said. “At that point, I took notice and got on board.”
While farmers in the Palouse region of the U.S. have had a long history with pulse and lentil crops — they’ve been grown in the region since 1916 — these were relatively new crops for those in the Northern Plains.
Here, farmers found that they went well with the established crop rotation, and by 2009, North Dakota had become the largest producer of pulse crops with Montana closely following, according to the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and the American Pulse Association.
In 2005, VanPevenage started the Montana Pulse business for CGI, and in 2006, he became head of the pulse business for the entire company. Today, he’s president and CEO of CGI and resides in Portland, Oregon…