MTPR

Montana Department of Agriculture

Northeast Montana farmer Dean Nelson bales a field of teff grass, August 2019.
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. 

Farm field. File photo.
thinkreaction / iStock

Earlier this month, a second Wyoming man filed a federal lawsuit against the agribusiness giant, Monsanto. It’s one of more than 18,000 lawsuits claiming the world’s most widely used pesticide causes cancer and that Monsanto has tried to cover up the risks. Reports that some agricultural experts in Montana are concerned that growing public scrutiny could affect trade and take away a tool for farmers. Others say they’re already losing that tool as weeds become more resistant.

Hemp plant.
iStock

Now that industrial hemp is legal to produce, thanks to the federal 2018 Farm Bill, the Montana Department of Agriculture has set up a committee to help producers research and market the crop. The first ever Montana Hemp Advisory Committee is set to hold its inaugural meeting April 3 in Helena.

Bills Aimed At Montana’s Hemp Industry Move Forward

Feb 19, 2019
Hemp plant.
iStock

HELENA -- The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production and Montana lawmakers are considering the best ways to integrate it into the state’s agriculture economy.

Sen. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, is sponsoring two hemp-related bills. Senate Bill 176 would allow the Montana Department of Agriculture to create a hemp certification program plan. Senate Bill 177 would eliminate the criminal background check requirement to grow hemp. The Montana Senate passed both bills this week and they now head to the House of Representatives.

Hemp plant.
iStock

The 2018 Farm Bill signed by President Trump this week ushers in a new era for American agriculture; one in which industrial hemp is legal to grow again after a decades-long hiatus. And Montana farmers are taking notice.

Courtesy Montana Governor's Office

 

Lt. Governor Mike Cooney was in Mexico last week to meet with some of the country’s largest brewers who, he says, feel shaken up over recent trade policy changes in the U.S.

Invasive species decontamination in Montana includes some firefighting aircraft
Nicky Ouellet

Non-native species in Montana have a way of making their presence known.

In June a KULR TV reported this from near the Ft. Belknap reservation:

“Trooper Matt Finley says the driver of the vehicle swerved to avoid hitting a kangaroo,” said Angela Marshall.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

A month after his reelection, Governor Steve Bullock today announced new people will be running nearly half of his appointed cabinet director positions in his second term.

Bullock announced the exit of six cabinet members during a press conference in the state Capitol today. So far, he’s made picks to fill half the vacancies.

Montana Drought Map
U.S. Drought Monitor

Farmers and ranchers in 24 Montana counties can apply for financial assistance, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday declared them disaster areas. The counties, all in the western half of the state, suffered from"severe" or "extreme" drought during the growing season. Jayson O’Neill with the Montana Department of Agriculture says more counties might be added as the summer wears on.

Hay field. File photo.
PD

One easy way to start an argument these days is to bring up climate change. Yet when several dozen farmers and researchers gathered to talk about it last Friday in Great Falls, there was virtually no argument. That’s because the group that sponsored the event, the Montana Farmers Union, accepts climate change as a fact and because the event, called Plowing Forward, was not focused on placing the blame for it, but rather on its effects, especially on agriculture.

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