Montana Public Radio

agriculture

 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly named Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as the lead agency regarding feral swine. The Montana Department of Livestock is leading the prevention effort.  

Feral swine been in the news a lot lately. While they make for an entertaining headline, wildlife managers in Montana are increasingly concerned about the damage these invasive pigs can cause to farmers, ranchers, the environment and Montana’s outdoor recreation economy. 

Across Montana, many farmers are noticing parts of their fields where nothing will grow, not even weeds. Researchers at Montana State University are wrapping up a multi-year project to figure out what farmers can do.

Employment Impacts of Hutterite Communities in Montana
UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Montana’s communal, agrarian Hutterite colonies are unfamiliar to many outsiders, but a first-of-its kind study shows the religious sect’s statewide economic impact can’t be ignored.

Hutterite communities pack an economic wallop, even in non-Hutterite sectors of Montana’s economy. That’s according to a study released Tuesday by researchers at the University of Montana and Montana State University.

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester said in a press call Thursday new federal regulations for hemp could create more certainty for farmers and boost job growth in the state.

2019 was a weird year for agricultural production in Montana. That’s according to one of the presenters at the upcoming Agricultural Economics Outlook Conference in Bozeman this Friday.

Feral pigs stock photo.
iStock

Feral swine threatening to cross the northern border from Saskatchewan and Alberta could cause millions of dollars of crop damage and decimate ecosystems in Montana. State and U.S. agencies say they’re ready if that happens, but farmers and ranchers want more.

Producers want the government to pressure Canadian officials to step up their management of the wild pigs before they move south.

Northeast Montana farmer Dean Nelson bales a field of teff grass during an August 2019 visit.
Kevin Trevellyan / Montana Public Radio

Montana farmers planted 22,000 acres of hemp last year — the most of any U.S. state. Many are turning to the recently legalized option because trade wars continue to hurt profits on traditional crops like wheat and barley. But now many Montana hemp farmers allege they weren’t paid what they were promised. The result is a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the company they partnered with. 

Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Matt Hogan, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Montana U.S. House Rep. Greg Gianforte listen to residents of the Rocky Mountain Front talk about conflict with grizzly bears, Oct 5, 2019.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt paid a visit to the Rocky Mountain Front Saturday to hear about conflicts with grizzly bears. The secretary heard numerous calls for delisting grizzlies from their threatened species status in and around Glacier National Park, but he says changes may be able to be made prior to delisting.

Something odd is happening to streams and rivers on the high plains of Kansas and Colorado. Some have disappeared.

"We would go and visit these streams, and in many cases it's like a dirt bike channel. It's no longer functioning as a stream," says Joshuah Perkin, a biologist at Texas A&M University who studies the fish that live in these streams.

Socati Montana General Manager James Stephens with hemp flower.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

Less than a year ago, industrial hemp was essentially an outlaw crop. Today it’s transformed into the wellspring of an emerging billion-dollar industry. The cannabis extract cannabidiol is a hemp byproduct, better known as CBD. Demand for CBD-infused products such as bath salts, balms and body bars is through the roof.

MTPR's Edward O’Brien recently visited a Montana hemp processing facility that’s transforming the tough, fibrous plant into liquid gold.

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