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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 feePelargonium Pink and Red
  • $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.


A large greenhouse growing several varieties of annual Geraniums neatly organized by color.


Nursery Program News

Discounted Vendor Early-Bird Registrations for Montana Food Show open until May 23

Montana Food Show set for September 27th in Bozeman

Discounted Vendor Early-Bird Registrations for Montana Food Show open until May 23

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) will be hosting the third annual Montana Food Show September 27, 2019 at MSU’s Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.

Early bird registration for vendors will open March 7th and run until regular registration begins May 23rd.

Final deadline for vendor registration is July 24th.

Buyer registration will open June 3rd.

Let’s get more Montana foods on Montana plates!

In 2019 you can expect:

  • International trade groups from Canada and Mexico
  • Public will be allowed for the trade show

At the second annual Montana Food Show in 2018:

  • $9,933 in reported sales from the day of the show
  • 64 Montana companies showcased
  • 166 buyers from more than 55 companies
    • Hotels & resorts
    • Restaurants & bars
    • Gift shops
    • Catering services
    • Distributors & wholesalers
    • Grocery stores & markets

Interested in being a 2019 Vendor? Click here for online Vendor Registration.

Wondering if this show is for you? Click here for the 2018 Vendor List.

If you have any questions about the show, please contact Marketing Officer Marty Earnheart at (406) 444-2402,

USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Producers’ Costs for Organic Certification

Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019

USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Producers’ Costs for Organic Certification

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2019 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019.

For full details on how to apply in Montana, and to start an application, visit our Organic Certification Cost Share page, or email

Now Hiring Agricultural Sciences Division Administrator

Position Based in Helena

Now Hiring Agricultural Sciences Division Administrator

The Montana Department of Agriculture is currently hiring a Plant Science Specialist based in Helena. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Visit the Employment page for more info and other job openings with the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Contact Information:


Photo of our nursery inspector, Carson Thomas

Carson Thomas
Nursery Specialist 

Phone : (406) 444-3428
Fax : (406) 444-9493
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601 

Layla Dunlap, our natural resources manager

Layla Dunlap
Natural Resource Section Supervisor

Phone: (406) 444-9066
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601



Nursery Files & Forms

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