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01 June 2021
MT Dept. of Agriculture Reminds Producers to Cover Crops with State Hail Insurance

MT Dept. of Agriculture Reminds Producers to Cover Crops with State Hail Insurance

In light of recent moisture, and with severe weather events on the horizon, the Montana State Hail Program is reminding producers to make sure their crops are covered. As spring plantings are wrapping up, staff are ready to assist producers with acquiring state hail insurance.

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 is available on the MDA website. State policies are available for purchase until August 15, 2021.

State hail insurance application forms are available online or by calling the office. Staff are available to accept policies, file claims, and to answer any questions producers might have regarding coverage options. Completed forms can be emailed, mailed, or faxed to the department, or used as a reference when contacting the office by phone. Loss forms must be submitted within two weeks of the hail damage occurrence. Loss claim forms are also available online and are due to the office by October 1, 2021.

Contact Information:

Montana State Hail Insurance Program

P.O. Box 200201

Helena, MT 59620

Phone: (406) 444-5429

Toll Free: 1 (844) 515-1571

 

Email: agrhail@mt.gov

Fax: (406) 444-9442

The Montana State Hail Insurance Program was created at the request of producers in 1917 to provide basic hail insurance coverage on any crop grown in Montana. The program is directed by a five-member board consisting of the department director, state insurance commissioner, and three producers.

01 June 2021
Montana Approves Use of Hemp in Commercial Animal Feed

Montana Approves Use of Hemp in Commercial Animal Feed

As established in House Bill 396 signed during the 2021 legislative session, hemp and substances derived from hemp are now approved for use in commercial feed for pets, specialty pets, and horses in Montana, so long as they do not contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

The Montana Department of Agriculture will regulate these new parameters for feed, feed ingredients of hemp, and substances derived from hemp in accordance with Montana’s Commercial Feeds Act and the Hemp and Cannabidiol Policy for Use in Animal Feed that is now available on the MDA website. Because the use of hemp or hemp-derived products in animal feed or feed supplements is not yet approved at the federal level, there are some important stipulations to abide by.

Currently, hemp and substances derived from hemp are not yet generally recognized as safe (GRAS) or approved as food additives under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). This means that livestock fed hemp in Montana cannot enter interstate or intrastate commerce as the animals and meat are considered adulterated under the FD&C.

In addition to pets and specialty pets, horses are the only livestock species approved for hemp in animal feed. Approval for hemp in animal feed for other livestock, such as cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry, is contingent on approval from the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

No CBD products, including CBD oil and industrial hemp seed oil containing CBD are allowed in pet, specialty pet, and horse feed in Montana. Only hemp or substances derived from cannabis with no greater than 0.3% THC, including but not limited to hemp seed, hemp seed meal, and hemp seed oil are permitted for use following the signing of HB 396.

26 May 2021
Public Meeting: MT Pulse Crop Committee - June 8, 2021

Public Meeting: MT Pulse Crop Committee - June 8, 2021

The Montana Pulse Crop Committee will meet virtually via Zoom on June 8, 2021 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. A meeting agenda is attached.

A video conference option is available through Zoom. Please contact Dani Jones to request Zoom meeting information.

Click here to view current MT Pulse Crop Committee members and learn more. 

19 May 2021
Montana Farmers Encouraged to Participate in Wheat & Barley Varieties Survey

Montana Farmers Encouraged to Participate in Wheat & Barley Varieties Survey

The Montana Department of Agriculture is reminding producers to participate in the upcoming Wheat and Barley Varieties Survey conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

“This year’s varieties survey will give our breeding program unique and widespread insight into the characteristics that are truly important to Montana farmers,” said Cassidy Marn, Executive Vice President of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. “With producer checkoff dollars helping to fund breeding programs, and MSU varieties accounting for a substantial portion of wheat and barley acreage here in Montana, responses to the survey are essential to our continued success.”

The survey is a collaborative project among the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Montana State University, and USDA NASS targeting specific data points that will influence future breeding research and varietal selections. USDA NASS will begin contacting Montana farmers by phone at the end of May to collect data for June survey reports, then continue compiling information through mid-July.

With end-use quality driving markets around the world, Montana can maintain a competitive edge by utilizing survey results to guarantee crop quality and improve production. The Wheat and Barley Varieties Survey is one of many initiatives led by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee to promote research, marketing, and education for the benefit of Montana producers. To learn more about how the committee is putting checkoff dollars to work, visit wbc.agr.mt.gov.

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.

06 May 2021
Made in Montana Exhibitor Registration Opens May 19th

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. 

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.

22 April 2021
Registration Open for Free "Communicating for the Farm" Webinar Series

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.

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