Montana Public Radio

agriculture

Agriculture officials in multiple states, including Montana, have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them.

The Montana Department of Agriculture says it’s received multiple reports of residents receiving unsolicited seed packets sent by mail that appeared to have originated in China.

The department writes in a press release the types of seeds are unknown and could be invasive, posing a potential threat to local plants and livestock.

C. M. Delphia / Montana State University's Montana Entomology Collection

A federal review of existing data unveiled an alarming trend for the western bumblebee population: its numbers have dwindled by as much as 93% in the last two decades.

The U.S. Geological Survey finding will help inform a species status assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this fall, which may ultimately add the insect to its endangered species list.

Hay bales in a field.
iStock

As Congress prepares to debate another stimulus package to prop up the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, farmers and ranchers are lobbying for more help.

Inside a farm shop southeast of Great Falls Wednesday industry representatives met with federal agriculture department Under Secretary Bill Northey and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines to voice their concerns.

Squash.
iStock

August had just begun when a friend delivered my first hand-me-down squash of the summer: a round, green variegated giant that had reached the size of a jack-o-lantern seemingly overnight, just the way squash like to do.

Later in the kitchen, I eyed down the squash and started my perennial should-I-grill-it-or-make-zucchini-bread debate. I suspect some version of this dilemma could be ages old.

Six ports of entry between Montana and Canada will continue to operate at reduced hours through July 21. Travel between the two countries is still restricted to essential only amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

A recent Montana legislative report says tax revenue from oil and natural gas production is expected to drop more than 28 percent this fiscal year, which will impact state and county budgets.

 


This story is part of a series on lasting ways Montana is adapting to the pandemic. It’s funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Montana’s cattle ranchers hard. Midwest meat plants shuttered because of disease outbreaks, upending the traditional supply chain and leaving ranchers with animals they might not be able to sell. The burgeoning local food systems may play more of a role going forward. 

Last week’s Graying Pains story explored the challenges of family farm succession as Montana’s agricultural demographic ages, and a program designed to connect up-and-coming farmers in Montana. This week’s installment explores the same issue — and a community college proposal to address it — near the state’s eastern border.

Not everyone who is interested in agriculture grows up on a farm, and without the skills and experience, finding your way into a family farm operation as a new producer is difficult.

The century-old St. Mary Canal has been a lifeline for communities along Montana’s Hi-Line. After a portion of it collapsed last month, agencies are scrambling to replace two key structures. 

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue (center) in Missoula to announce new USFS priorities June 12, 2020. Behind him: Chuck Roady, GM of F.H. Stoltze, Rep. Gianforte, USDA Undersecretary James Hubbard, Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, RMEF Pres. Kyle Weaver
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

*UPDATED 06/13 

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary visited Missoula Friday to announce a blueprint to prioritize work for the U.S Forest Service.

Supporters say it will modernize the agency and cut unnecessary red tape. Opponents, however, counter it will undermine the nation’s laws aimed at protecting the environment.

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