MTPR

U.S. Department of Agriculture

A Forest Service helicopter near Missoula, MT.
Lane Lamoreaux (PD)

The State of Montana’s fleet of firefighting helicopters remains unable to to fight some fires on federal land, and Wednesday a state legislative council asked for action. It’s been a years-long struggle.

The M-44 consists of a capsule holder, a cyanide capsule, a spring-activated ejector, and a stake.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Three months after a predator-killing cyanide trap sickened a teenage boy in Idaho and killed his dog, the federal government is launching an expanded review of the devices.

"We're not going to roll over every time someone says 'boo' about us wanting to harvest timber to make a healthy forest," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a agriculture summit in Great Falls, MT July 1, 2017.
Eric Whitney

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was in Great Falls Thursday for an “agriculture summit” hosted by Senator Steve Daines. Perdue promised big changes at the U.S. Forest Service, which his department oversees. 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during an agriculture conference in Great Falls, MT, June 1, 2017.
Courtesy @SecretarySunny Twitter feed

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke in Great Falls Thursday. Perdue suggested reforms for a couple of big safety net programs important to farmers.

Perdue has only been on the job as ag secretary since the end of April, and part of his job is to help President Trump push forward a budget that calls for big cuts in the Department of Agriculture.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
PD

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Congress this week that American farmers are facing plenty of challenges and deep uncertainty.

“Our farm economy is down by about a 50-percent drop in net income from where it was in 2013 as you all were contemplating the ’14 Farm Bill" Perdue says. "We’ve got several members who – particularly younger farmers – have levered up in this situation where their revenue is not supporting their debt structure and they’re in some dire straits.” 

The M-44 consists of a capsule holder, a cyanide capsule, a spring-activated ejector, and a stake.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program announced today that it would stop using predator-killing cyanide traps in Idaho, at least temporarily according to the Idaho Statesman.

This after a cyanide trap killed a dog in Pocatello and sickened a 14-year-old boy on March 16

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber.
Mike Albans

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber joins MTPR's Nora Saks to talk about his paper's reaction to President Trump's gag-order covering several federal agencies like EPA and USDA. McCumber talks about how his newspaper plans to hold government agencies accountable.

 Ag. Group Says Trump Appointees Could Have 'Big Impact' On Farmers
(PD)

Montana grain growers should be keeping an eye on more than who President-elect Trump appoints as agriculture secretary. That’s what an industry expert told them at their conference in Great Falls Wednesday.

A 2016 report from a private data service, that says Montana has around 400,000 acres total in organic production - behind only California.
(PD)

Montana remains a leader in organic agriculture, and this week more than 200 organic farmers, buyers, suppliers and others are getting together in Kalispell to figure out how to take advantage of the growing markets nationwide for organic products.

Yellowstone Looks At Large Bison Cull To Trim Herds

Nov 30, 2016
Bringing bison back to the Blackfeet Reservation and their historic range on land that now belongs to the U.S. Forest Service, like the Badger-Two Medicine and Chief Mountain, is a vision eight years in the making.
(PD)

Yellowstone National Park biologists say more than 900 wild bison would need to be killed or removed this winter to begin reducing the size of herds that spill into neighboring Montana.

Grants Will Fund Bee Research At MSU

Oct 7, 2015
A new law signed this week means Montana honey producers could collect millions of dollars in back payments.
(PD)

Montana State University was awarded several research grants today, including one to help research threats to Montana’s bee colonies.

The Forest Service says it's now spending over half of its total budget suppressing wildfires. That's the first time that's happened in the agency's 110-year history.

Montana Drought Map
U.S. Drought Monitor

Farmers and ranchers in 24 Montana counties can apply for financial assistance, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday declared them disaster areas. The counties, all in the western half of the state, suffered from"severe" or "extreme" drought during the growing season. Jayson O’Neill with the Montana Department of Agriculture says more counties might be added as the summer wears on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement.
(PD)

A panel of prominent scientists are meeting in Bozeman to talk about controlling brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, It’s the start of a year-long process to evaluate options for trying to control the disease.

Anthony J. Preite retires as the USDA's state director of rural development.
Courtesy photo

A man who’s had a big role in growing Montana’s economy for nearly 50 years is stepping down. Anthony Preite has been involved in rural economic development here since 1968, and last week he retired as state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Montana, especially rural Montana went big for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but a lot of farmers and ranchers disagree with him on big, multi-country trade deals.
PD

One easy way to start an argument these days is to bring up climate change. Yet when several dozen farmers and researchers gathered to talk about it last Friday in Great Falls, there was virtually no argument. That’s because the group that sponsored the event, the Montana Farmers Union, accepts climate change as a fact and because the event, called Plowing Forward, was not focused on placing the blame for it, but rather on its effects, especially on agriculture.

Wheat prices in Montana have declined by 38 percent since 2014.
(PD)

Montana farmers will have to take the changing climate into account, even planting different species to accommodate warmer temperatures. That was part of the message delivered at a gathering in Great Falls Friday, sponsored by The Montana Farmers Union. 

Forest Service Predicts Above-Average Fire Season For Western U.S.

Jun 9, 2015
File photo of fire fighters building fire line.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior and the U.S. Forest Service chief expect above average wildfire activity this year, especially across the Western U.S.

The three held a telephone briefing with reporters yesterday afternoon on the upcoming 2015 wildfire season.

 When Seaman decided to dedicate his life to farming, he set out looking for a place with a ripe ear of corn and tomato grown out doors, hunting, fishing and good people. He says he found that in Paradise, Montana.
Corin Cates-Carney

Two hundred fifteen certified organic producers in Montana are cashing in on the growing demand for organic products. Organic farm sales in the United States grew 82 percent in the past five years, according to the Organic Trade Association.

But the growing demand doesn’t guarantee small organic farms will be, or stay, profitable.

USDAgriculture State Director of Rural Development Anthony Preite awards a check to NACDC Financial Services Executive Director Angie Main.
Corin Cates-Carney

Small businesses in and around the Blackfeet Reservation now have access to a little more help. This week, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended support to a Native American community development group, to make “micro-loans” to boost the local economy.

Two Mills In Columbia Falls To Close This Year
Corin Cates-Carney

A young company in Columbia Falls is finding success in developing new construction material, and they’ve just received a federal grant to help push that success to the next stage.

USDA Grants Help Send New Generation To 'Farm School'

Feb 5, 2015
USDA

The next generation of Montana farmers might use technologies like Facebook or YouTube to market themselves or learn a skill, but the basics of farming 101 are still the same.

A new federal grant announced this week aims to help younger farmer learn those basics.

Twenty six year old Caroline Stephens only has a few seasons under her belt, but she already knows you need a wide range of skills.