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What does the Nursery Program do for you?

A Montana agricultural nursery. The Montana Department of Agriculture Nursery Program provides licenses for the sale and distribution of nursery products.

The Montana Department of Agriculture Nursery Program provides licenses for the sale and distribution of nursery products as part of efforts to maintain the quality of all nursery stock grown in Montana. The nursery program also monitors nursery stock that is imported to or from the state of Montana.

The Nursery Program's Objectives:

  • Ensure that plant materials are free from harmful pests;
  • Monitor for noxious weeds;
  • Check for accurate plant and variety identification and labeling; and
  • Protect the health of agriculture in Montana.

Agricultural and forest pests can hitchhike on nursery stock that is moved from one part of the world to another. Almost all plant material sold in Montana is imported and hitchhikers are a real threat to the state. Insects and diseases that hitchhike on nursery stock can have a harmful effect or destroy plants grown in the horticultural industry, agricultural crops, and native plants. The economic loss caused by plant pests is not limited to direct damage to nursery stock. Infestation or damage in agricultural commodities may destroy the use of a crop, or make it unsuitable for export. These kinds of effects can extend throughout the economies of the entire state or region.

Who needs a nursery license?

Licenses are required for any person or business that sells or distributes nursery stock in Montana. If you sell plant material in the state of Montana, you must have a nursery license. Currently license fees are decided by a tiered system:

  • $5,000 or less in gross annual sales of nursery stock: $25 license fee
  • $5,001 to $75,000 in gross annual sales: $135 license fee
  • $75,001 to $150,000 in gross annual sales: $200 license fee
  • $150,001 to $250,000 in gross annual sales: $300 license fee
  • Over $250,000 in gross annual sales: $400 license fee
  • Landscape Service: $150 license fee
  • Sod Farmer: $220 license fee
  • For licensing details refer to Montana Code Annotated: 80-7

How does the program ensure nursery stock quality?

By law, and by reciprocal agreements with other states, plant material at businesses that sell or distribute nursery stock is required to be inspected and certified free from injurious plant pests. Inspections are conducted to intercept pests not known to occur in Montana and to protect consumers from purchasing plant material that is not healthy. Nursery inspectors have the expertise and up-to-date knowledge of existing and new pest threats, quarantines, and regulatory requirements that apply to businesses, the public, and agricultural industries. They can also provide advice on best management practices to reduce insect and disease pathways specific to the state of Montana, and ways to improve the general health of nursery stock.

To ensure quality nursery stock and provide protection for Montana's nursery industry and consumers, the program inspects and samples nursery stock at the following locations:

  • Florists;
  • Nursery stock growing sites;
  • Garden centers;
  • Nursery stock distribution points;
  • Retail stores carrying nursery stock;
  • Landscaping businesses;
  • Farmers markets; and
  • Other locations as needed.

All plant material available for sale must be properly labeled, listing the scientific or common name. When necessary, the program collects plant samples from the above nursery stock growing locations and retail sites to provide information for national surveys. A working relationship with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine seeks to prevent new pest introductions and the movement of plant pests from foreign countries. Please see Nursery Files and Forms below for state quarantine information. For federal quarantine information click here.

What is nursery stock?

The definition of nursery stock is as follows and can be found in MCA 80-7-105:

Nursery stock means botanically classified plants or parts of plants, including but not limited to tropical potted plants, aquatic plants, and turf or sod grass. The following plants and plant materials may not be considered nursery stock:

  • a. field crop plants and seeds;
  • b. pasture grasses;
  • c. cut plants not for propagation;
  • d. fruits or vegetables for human or animal consumption;
  • f. cut trees and products that are going to be processed to a point that they no longer represent a pest risk;
  • e. plant debris for disposal or processing; and
  • f. cut trees and their products

How to obtain a nursery license?

Nursery licenses must be obtained through eStop Business Licensing and can now be purchased on-line (eStop Business Licensing Portal). Please see Nursery Files and Forms below for the eStop Businesses Licenses Guide.


Nursery Program News

Springtime Farmers Markets

Find market locations and more on the Abundant Montana Directory

Springtime Farmers Markets

Farmer's markets play a valuable role in promoting healthy communities in Montana. Find the most up-to-date information about market locations for the 2018 season at the Abundant Montana Directory, or visit our Farmer's Markets page for more info.

There are also great market listings available on the Montana Department of Commerce site.

Produce Safety Rule technical assistance available to farmers

Submit your contact and info to stay informed about opportunities for food safety support

Produce Safety Rule technical assistance available to farmers

Hello Montana Growers!

The FDA’s Produce Safety Rule is in place (and was adopted by the Montana legislature) and is being implemented. The Montana Department of Agriculture has received a grant to provide support and technical assistance regarding produce safety to farmers. Food safety regulations are changing, and we want to ensure you have the information you need to be successful.

In coming weeks, we will be conducting brief phone calls to gain a better understanding of the number and scale of produce growers in the state. If you would rather submit your information through an online form, please go to and click on “Submit Info for the Food Safety Modernization Act Inventory”, or, if you are unsure if the Produce Safety Act applies to you and your farm, click on "Determine if the Produce Safety Rule Applies to You" to answer a few questions and automatically see if you are exempt or if the law applies to you.

If you have questions, please call 406-444-0131 or email

Thank you from the Montana Department of Agriculture Food Safety Program

Layla Dunlap
Nursery Specialist

Phone : (406) 444-3428
E-mail :
Fax : (406) 444-7336
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601


Nursery Files & Forms

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