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The Montana Department of Agriculture manages more than 30 programs, from marketing and business development to licensing and regulating activities to protecting agricultural producers, consumers and the environment. Explore our featured programs below, or use the main menu to browse all MDA programs and services.


Montana Agriculture Resiliency Program Grant - Information

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Program Grant Information

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MT Ag Resiliency Program updates

Additional information and application guidelines will be posted soon.


 

Raising Wheat and Barley in Montana video linkMontana Wheat and Barley Video Series

Get a glimpse into what it takes to raise world-class commodities like wheat, barley, and pulse crops through this new video series brought to you by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Montana Pulse Crop Committee, and Specialty Crop Block Program. From planting to harvest, you can check in with Montana farmers in fields across the Big Sky State throughout this year’s growing season.

To see Montana wheat and barley checkoff dollars at work, head over to the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee’s Virtual Experience webpage and check out all of their videos that are being shared with prospective buyers around the world!

 

Online Testing Now Available for Montana Pesticide Applicators

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is providing a new opportunity for pesticide applicators to take exams online through the Metro Insititute Centers

"We are excited to provide Montana's applicators with a new opportunity to take their tests online," said Rory Ruffner, Pesticide Licensing, Registration & Training Program Manager at Montana Department of Agriculture. "The Department aims to provide services that are efficient and easy to use and this new online option does exactly that. The challenges of the last year have shown that our applicators are willing to utilize technology and see it as a solution that can help them succeed."

The exams are computer-based and allow for instant exam results and analysis. The cost for online exams taken through Metro Institute is $58. MDA will continue to proctor tests in person and applicators are encouraged to work with staff at their local MDA Field Office to arrange a testing time. 

Click here to sign up for an online pesticide exam through Metro Institute.  Currently testing facilities are available in Great Falls, Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, and Glendive with more cities to be added in the near future.


COVID-19 RESPONSE

WorkingFromHome

In order to protect our staff and the public, most of the Montana Department of Agriculture’s staff are currently working from home, but can still be reached during normal business hours. The department is conducting in-person business by appointment only. Per the Governor's Directivemasks or face coverings are required for individuals ages five and older in counties with four or more confirmed and active cases of COVID-19.

In order to streamline your request, please consider using the “I want To” tab to find out who to contact directly, view our staff directory, or email your question to agr@mt.gov.

The latest COVID-19 information and resources are available at https://covid19.mt.gov/. Please call 1-888-333-0461 or email covid19info@mt.gov.

Click to view Interim Guidance from the CDC and US Dept. of Labor for Agricultural Workers and Employers. More information related to COVID-19 is available here.


In the Spotlight...

USDA Soil Health & Income Protection Program (SHIPP) Signup Period is Open for Montana

SHIPP signup open through July 16, 2021

USDA Soil Health & Income Protection Program (SHIPP) Signup Period is Open for Montana

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that agricultural producers can now sign up for the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP), which provides a short-term option to plant cover on less productive agricultural lands while improving soil health and carbon sequestration.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made improvements to this pilot program which allows for a maximum of 50,000 acres to be enrolled in the praire pothole states of Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The signup period ends July 16, 2021.

Improvements to SHIPP include:

  • Boosting rental rates: A change to the rental rate calculation method to use a rate equivalent to 50% percent of the county average rental rate for every offer in the county, regardless of the soil productivity in the offer. This removes the current practice of adjusting the rate by soil productivity factors, which may reduce the soil rental rate further.
  • Changes to offer selection for producers: Producers can now self-certify that the acres they want to offer are less productive or prone to drought or flood damage. Additionally, they can now use field boundaries and straight lines to delineate the offers. This is a change to the previous policy, which required using soil map unit boundaries and the associated soil productivity values, which created difficulty for producers by generating unusual and impractical sizes and shapes of land.

Producers interested in SHIPP can learn more at fsa.usda.gov/crp [fsa.usda.gov] or by contacting their local USDA Service Center [farmers.gov]. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools.

Documents to download

USDA Announces Garfield County as Primary Natural Disaster Area due to Drought

USDA Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in Garfield County and other contiguous MT counties eligible for assistance through FSA

USDA Announces Garfield County as Primary Natural Disaster Area due to Drought

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Garfield County as a primary natural disaster area due to a recent drought. This announcement comes nearly a week after 13 other Montana counties were declared as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought. 

Other MT counties previously named primary disaster areas: Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, McCone, Phillips, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Valley & Wibaux.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered fromm a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks, or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme, or 4) D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Seven additional counties were named as contiguous disaster areas in the announcement for Garfield County: Custer, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Prairie, Rosebud & Valley.

Other MT Counties previously named contiguous counties: Blaine, Fergus, Garfield, Petroleum, Powder River & Rosebud.

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguos to such primary counties eligible for assistance provided through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including emergency loans. Producers in affected areas are encouraged to work with their local FSA office to receive more information and apply. Click here to view Montana FSA offices map. Click here to visit the USDA Disaster Assisance Programs website.

Montana Department of Agriculture Reminds Montanans to Sow Safe Seeds

Buying and planting seed from licensed dealers protects Montana from invasive species

Montana Department of Agriculture Reminds Montanans to Sow Safe Seeds

As people across the state gear up to plant their gardens this spring, the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding growers about the importance of buying and planting seeds from licensed seed dealers to protect against invasive species and plant diseases.

“Spring is such an exciting time for agriculture in Montana, from our farmers and ranchers out in the field to the folks planting gardens in their backyard,” said Director Mike Foster. “Along with this excitement comes a responsibility to look after our state by purchasing seeds from trustworthy sources. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Department to ensure that your seeds are safe before planting them.”

Last year, residents in all 50 states received unsolicited “mystery seeds” through the mail that originated in China causing federal and state agencies to urge recipients not to plant them, and to contact their state regulatory officials to submit them for testing or dispose of them instead. Close to 150 seed packages were received in Montana and sent to USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) for testing. A mix of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb and weed species were discovered and fortunately determined not to be severely hazardous. In this case, the unsolicited seeds appear to have been sent as part of a brushing scam designed to boost e-commerce rankings for companies by shipping items to unknowing individuals and then creating false profiles and fabricated positive reviews.

Whether it be as part of a brushing scam or otherwise, planting unknown or unsolicited seeds can introduce harmful pests and/or diseases. To ensure your seeds are safe, please:

  • check to confirm the seed species information is printed on the seed package
  • do not plant any seeds of unknown species or origin
  •  verify seed suppliers are licensed in MT at mtplants.mt.gov or call MDA at (406) 444-3144.

The Federal Seed Act and Montana Seed Laws require seed sellers and distributors to plainly label their packages. The MDA Seed Program ensures that seeds offered for sale in Montana are truthfully labeled for identity, purity, and viability. To learn more, visit the Montana Department of Agriculture’s web page at agr.mt.gov/SeedProgram.

Documents to download

Made in Montana Exhibitor Registration Opens May 19th

Made in Montana Tradeshow will take place in Helena September 10 - 11, 2021

Made in Montana Exhibitor Registration Opens May 19th

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for food and gifts will take place in Helena at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds on September 10 - 11th, 2021--all Grown in Montana members are encouraged to apply!

On Friday, September 10th, exhibitors will have the opportuntity to connect with wholesale buyers. Saturday, September 11th, the public is invited to attend and exhibitors will sell directly to consumers at retail prices. 

Exhibitor registration opens up on May 19th. Click here to learn more and apply to participate as an exhibitor. 

USDA Announces Primary Disaster Designation for 13 Montana Counties due to drought

Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, McCone, Phillips, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Valley & Wibaux counties designated as primary natural disaster areas due to drought

USDA Announces Primary Disaster Designation for 13 Montana Counties due to drought

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 13 Montana counties as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought. 

Primary Counties: Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, McCone, Phillips, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Valley & Wibaux.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered fromm a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks, or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme, or 4) D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Six additional counties were named as contiguous disaster areas. Contiguous Counties: Blaine, Fergus, Garfield, Petroleum, Powder River & Rosebud.

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguos to such primary counties eligible for assistance provided through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including emergency loans. Producers in affected areas are encouraged to work with their local FSA office to receive more information and apply. Click here to view Montana FSA offices map. Click here to visit the USDA Disaster Assisance Programs website.

Dan Reimer Selected to Lead Operations at Montana State Grain Lab

Reimer will oversee Great Falls and Plentywood grain lab operations

Dan Reimer Selected to Lead Operations at Montana State Grain Lab

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced Dan Reimer as the new Bureau Chief at the State Grain Labs, the state’s only federally licensed grain inspection labs.

With a background in mechanical engineering, Dan has led teams throughout the world, including as General Manager of a manufacturing plant in Mexico, and most recently, Executive Director of an operation in the Czech Republic.

“The department is pleased to welcome Dan back to Montana and the state agency as he previously served as the department’s Pesticide Licensing Specialist from 2012 to 2018,” said Christy Clark, MDA Deputy Director and Agriculture Development Division Administrator.

“I am excited to serve Montana Agriculture in a new capacity,” said Dan Reimer, State Grain Lab Bureau Chief. “Our grain labs strive to provide customers with the best possible service while always looking at ways to improve. With harvest just around the corner, our team is looking forward to doing our part to help Montana’s farmers sell their high-quality crops to buyers throughout the world.”

Established in 1921, the State Grain Lab is in its 100th year of providing producers and agricultural businesses with quality assurance and consistent, unbiased results. State Grain Lab staff are highly skilled and certified to sample and grade crops through the Federal Grain Inspection Service. Official grain certificates issued through the labs guarantee protein grade and other qualities that serve as the basis for price settlements between buyers and sellers.

The labs, located in Great Falls and Plentywood, host visitors from across the globe who come to see how their state-of-the-art equipment and grain grading processes work first-hand. The Great Falls lab will soon be recruiting for motivated workers who enjoy a dynamic work schedule to join their team for the upcoming harvest season through the State of Montana Careers Website.

Governor's Office Issues Montana Water Supply & Drought Outlook Report

2021 Water Supply & Drought Outlook Report shows dry conditions across the state

Governor's Office Issues Montana Water Supply & Drought Outlook Report

The Office of the Governor released the 2021 Montana Water and Supply Drought Outlook Report on Monday, April 26th.

According to data in the report, 42 percent of the state is classified as abnormally dry, with another 18 percent of the state in severe to extreme drought conditions. May and June are historically the two wettest months of the year in Montana.

“Following an unusually mild winter, the conditions we see for the next eight to ten weeks are going to be critical as we head into growing season in Montana,” Gov. Gianforte said. “I am tasking state agency directors to begin reviewing authorities and options to support our agricultural producers as some battle extreme drought conditions.”

The governor’s office will be monitoring conditions closely in 12 eastern counties – Phillips, Daniels, Sheridan, Valley, Roosevelt, McCone, Wibaux, Prairie, Dawson, Richland, Fallon, and Carter – where drought conditions are most severe.

The Water Supply and Drought Outlook is an annual report compiled by water planning staff at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Click here to view 2021 report.

Documents to download

Public Meeting Notice: MT Oilseed Advisory Committee

MT Oilseed Advisory Committee will meet virtually via Zoom on May 13th at 1:00 PM

Public Meeting Notice: MT Oilseed Advisory Committee

The Montana Oilseed Advisory Committee will meet via Zoom on Thursday, May 13th beginning at 1:00 p.m.

To receive Zoom meeting information, please contact Dani Jones at Danielle.Jones@mt.gov or (406) 444-2402.

Public Meeting Notice: MT Hemp Advisory Committee

MT Hemp Advisory Committee will meet via Zoom on May 12, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Public Meeting Notice: MT Hemp Advisory Committee

The Montana Hemp Advisory Committee will meet vitrually via Zoom on Wednesday, May 12th beginning at 9:00 a.m. A meeting agenda will be posted soon.

To receive Zoom meeting information, please contact Dani Jones at Danielle.Jones@mt.gov or (406) 444-2402.

Click here to learn more about the MT Hemp Advisory Commitee.

Documents to download

Registration Open for Free "Communicating for the Farm" Webinar Series

MSU Extension and Purdue Extension hosting webinar series to help ag producers engage with the public and share their story

Registration Open for Free "Communicating for the Farm" Webinar Series

Montana State University Extension Pondera County and Purdue Extension – Bartholomew County are teaming up to provide a webinar series dedicated to helping agricultural producers improve their agriculture communication skills. Adriane Good, from MSU Extension, and Cora Carter, from Purdue Extension, noticed that many farmers and ranchers want to engage with the public and share their story but have difficulties doing so. This webinar series aims to help producers with that, giving them the skills to communicate effectively and present themselves professionally online when engaging with a non-agricultural based public.

  • May 13: Media Literacy & Critical Thinking - Beth Forbes, Purdue University
  • May 20: Communication & Engagement - Linda Pfeiffer, Purde University
  • May 27: Communicating Controversial Topics - Group Discussion
  • June 3: Crafting Your Story - Carrie Mess (@dairycarrie)
  • June 10: Presenting Yourself Professionally Online - Sara Hollenbeck, High Five Meats
  • June 17: Practice Telling Your Story - Group Discussion

Each week’s class will begin at 5 PM MST and last until 6 PM. The webinar series will be hosted via Microsoft Teams, which will allow class participants to interact with each other between sessions. If you are unfamiliar with teams, a video will be distributed to familiarize you with the software. The webinar series is free of charge. Registration can be accessed at puext.in/comm4farm. For more information about the webinar series, contact Adriane Good at 406-271-4054.

Public Meeting Notice: Agriculture Development Council Virtual Meeting

Ag Development Council will meet via Zoom May 18th at 9:00 AM

Public Meeting Notice: Agriculture Development Council Virtual Meeting

The Agriculture Development Council will meet via Zoom on May 18th beginning at 9:00 a.m. Meeting topics include the Food and Agriculture Development Center application review and presentations as well as a Growth Through Agriculture business meeting. An agenda will  be available soon.

To receive Zoom meeting information, please email a request to Tina.Bateman@mt.gov.

Click here to learn more about the Ag Development Council.

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Welcome!Mike Foster Portrait

Here at the Montana Department of Agriculture, we are honored to support the state’s #1 industry. With over 30 programs ranging from market and business development to licensing and regulating services that protect agricultural producers, consumers and the environment, our website features an abundance of information. We encourage you to explore our programs and contact us if you have ideas about how to improve our department, our services, or our website.

Department Contact Information

Main Phone: (406) 444-3144
Email: Agr@mt.gov
Fax: (406) 444-5409


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Montana Department of Agriculture
Phone : (406) 444-3144
E-mail : agr@mt.gov
Fax : (406) 444-5409
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601


Montana Ag by the Numbers

In a state where cattle outnumber people, agriculture is our business. In fact, it is Montana’s number one industry and growing.

$4.6

Billion Industry

26,900

Farms & Ranches

58

Million Acres

1

State Rank in
Organic Wheat
Production