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New US Ag Secretary Helps Kick-Off MT Agriculture Summit

Wheat field.
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Wheat prices in Montana have declined by 38 percent since 2014.

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is in Montana today and tomorrow for an agriculture summit being put on in Great Falls by Republican Senator Steve Daines. International trade will be a top issue. Two of Montana's biggest agriculture groups – the Grain Growers and Stockgrowers' Associations were supporters of the TransPacific Partnership, a multi-country trade deal in which President Donald Trump now says the U.S. will not participate.

Secretary Perdue will address the summit, and be part of a panel discussion on the future of agriculture with Senator Daines, who sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Also on the panel will be the chairman of that committee, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Economists at the University of Montana say the state's farm and ranch sector experienced several excellent financial years through 2014. But since then, wheat prices have declined by 38 percent, and calf prices are down 53 percent. Economists expect net farm income in Montana to decline by 14 percent this year.

Senator Daines' is offering a live stream of the agriculture summit tomorrow on his website, starting at 8 A.M.
 

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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