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18 June 2021
Public Meeting Notice: Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council Meeting - July 28th

Public Meeting Notice: Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council Meeting - July 28th

The Montana Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council will meet on July 28, 2021 from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. in Phillipsburg, MT. An agenda will be posted soon. 

For more information, please contact Greta Dige, Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Coordinator, at (406) 444-7882 or Greta.Dige@mt.gov.  

 

07 June 2021
Governor Gianforte Proclaims Noxious Weed Awareness Week

Governor Gianforte Proclaims Noxious Weed Awareness Week

Governor Greg Gianforte proclaimed June 6 - 12, 2021 to be Noxious Weed Awareness Week! 

Established through a joint resolution (HJ17) during the 2021 legislative session, the first full week in June is an opportunity to highlight the important work taking place across the state to protect the integrity and productivity of Montana’s precious lands and resources from noxious weeds.

The Montana Department of Agriculture's Noxious Weed Program assists with weed identification and education, compiles annual statewide coordination reports, administers the Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Program, certifies forage and other materials as weed-free, and collaborates in statewide noxious weed prevention and management iniatives. Learn more at agr.mt.gov/weeds.

21 May 2021
USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements for Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction

USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements for Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of up to $2 million for local governments to host Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CCFWR) pilot projects for fiscal year 2021. The cooperative agreements support projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans and they are part of USDA’s broader efforts to support urban agriculture.

USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (Office) will accept applications on Grants.gov until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 16, 2021. Projects should span two years with a start date of September 25, 2021 and completion date of September 25, 2023.

A pre-recorded webinar will provide an overview of the cooperative agreements’ purpose, project types, eligibility and basic requirements for submitting an application. The webinar and more information will be posted at farmers.gov/urban.   

11 May 2021
USDA Soil Health & Income Protection Program (SHIPP) Signup Period is Open for Montana

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.

10 May 2021
USDA Announces Garfield County as Primary Natural Disaster Area due to Drought

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.

06 May 2021
Montana Department of Agriculture Reminds Montanans to Sow Safe Seeds

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.

05 May 2021
USDA Announces Primary Disaster Designation for 13 Montana Counties 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.

27 April 2021
Governor's Office Issues Montana Water Supply & Drought Outlook Report

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.

19 April 2021
Over $2 Million Awarded Through Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Program

Over $2 Million Awarded Through Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Program

The Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council announced the recipients of over $2 million awarded through the Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund grant program. Over 130 Montana counties, tribes, conservation districts, local communities, and educators were awarded funds to develop and implement noxious weed management programs across Montana.

“I was very impressed with the quality of projects submitted to the noxious weed grant program this year,” said Mike Foster, Director of Montana Department of Agriculture. “These projects play a crucial role in preserving agricultural lands and livelihoods here in Montana, and I’m looking forward to seeing their work in action.”

The Noxious Weed Trust Fund (NWTF) grant hearings and deliberations were held virtually March 8-12th. Click here to view the full list of 2021 grant project recipients.

07 April 2021
Hail Insurance Available Through Montana Department of Agriculture

Hail Insurance Available Through Montana Department of Agriculture

Applications for the State Hail Insurance Program are now available through the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA).

Producers can insure crops against hail damage at the maximum coverage rate of $75 per acre for dryland and $114 per acre for irrigated land. Rates charged are a percentage of the insured amount and vary by county. A detailed list of rates by county and crop can be found online by visiting the MDA website. State policies are available for purchase until August 15, 2021.

Producers who previously purchased state hail insurance will receive applications in the mail. Application forms are also available online or by calling the MDA office. Staff are available to process policies, file claims, and help answer any questions producers may have regarding coverage options. Completed forms can be emailed, mailed, faxed, or used as a reference when contacting the office by phone.

Loss claims are due to the office by October 1, 2021, and must be submitted within two weeks of the hail damage occurrence. Forms are available online or by request.

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