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Posts tagged: Montana

Montana Agriculture Keeps Growing

Big Sky Montana could be Big Sweet Montana. Check back next Thursday for another fascinating look at another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

Big Sky Montana could be Big Sweet Montana. Check back next Thursday for another fascinating look at another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

When you think of Montana agriculture, wheat and cattle come to mind. And why shouldn’t they? After all, our state ranks third in wheat production and tenth in cattle and calves inventory, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. That year, the combined market value of ag products sold for grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas was $1,787,162,000 and cattle and calves was $1,783,908,000. Montana’s total market value of agricultural products sold per farm was $151,031; which was up 59 percent from the previous Census of Agriculture in 2007, while the U.S. average was up 39 percent.

We have 28,008 farms and ranches in our state with an average size of 2,134 acres, which is down 5 percent from 2007.  Female principal operators of farms and ranches account for 15 percent of the total principal operators in the state while American Indians account for just 5 percent. Like most other states, the average age of our producers continues to increase to 58.9 years, climbing 1.1 years from 2007. Read more »

Montana Organic Association Focuses on the Benefits of Organic Business

Montana is a leading producer of certified organic wheat, dry peas, lentils and flax. MOA provides the state’s organic community with valuable education, information, support, assistance, promotion, and representation. Pictured here is an organic grain operation in Montana. USDA photo courtesy of Betsy Rakola.

Montana is a leading producer of certified organic wheat, dry peas, lentils and flax. MOA provides the state’s organic community with valuable education, information, support, assistance, promotion, and representation. Pictured here is an organic grain operation in Montana. USDA photo courtesy of Betsy Rakola.

This is the twenty-third installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

According to a 2014 USDA Economic Research Service report, consumer demand for organically produced products continues to show double-digit growth.  This year, the Montana Organic Association’s (MOA) annual meeting highlighted the sector’s ongoing growth with its theme of Organic Business: Benefitting Producers and Consumers.  As USDA’s Organic Policy Advisor, I represented USDA at MOA’s conference and presented information about USDA’s support for the growing organic community.

MOA’s mission is to advocate for and promote organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state’s economy. The conference brought in over 200 people, a large number in a rural state with just over 200 certified organic operations.  MOA President Nate Brown noted, “The Montana Organic Association annual conference is our biggest event of the year and has been the lifeblood of the organization for the past 12 years.  We feel the conference is a great way to bring together Montana’s organic community every year for a weekend of learning and socializing in order to keep up with the growing organic market in our state.” Read more »

Secretary’s Column: In Rural America, Promise and Opportunity Abound for Veterans

Veterans have sacrificed dearly to keep this country safe. Every day, they confront and triumph over those that threaten our national security. We owe it to our military men and women to ensure a different kind of security is waiting when they return home—the security that comes from the promise of a good job, affordable housing, a quality education and dependable health care.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture stands proudly alongside those who have served. Our staff across America includes more than 11,000 veterans – and our team works hard every day to strengthen services and programs in rural areas that support veterans and their families as they achieve their dreams. This includes everything from health clinics and telemedicine services, to distance learning and training opportunities for those who want to start a farm or ranch to grants and loans to help veterans start or expand a rural business. Read more »

Scientific Climate Info Now Available for Producers in the Northern Plains

The new Climate Hubs Northern Plains website provides producers with science-based information.

The new Climate Hubs Northern Plains website provides producers with science-based information.

This fall, ranchers, farmers, and land managers in the Northern Plains from Bartlett, Nebraska to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming will be making decisions that will affect their operations in the coming year. Land managers often consider markets, weather and changing climatic conditions using data and information from various sources including newspapers and popular press publications, Cooperative Extension agents, State Climatologists, and the Internet.

With the recent launch of the USDA Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub website, ranchers, farmers, and land managers have a new source for region-specific, science-based information, practical management and conservation strategies, and decision-support tools.  The national Hubs site features links to the latest climate news, events, thematic climate highlights (e.g. Croplands, Forestland, Grazing Lands and Livestock) as well as educational materials, factsheets, and regional contact information. Read more »

Building Local Food Systems, Cooperatively

John and Trudi Kretsinger of KW Farms promoting their grass-fed beef products at one of La Montanita’s stores.

John and Trudi Kretsinger of KW Farms promoting their grass-fed beef products at one of La Montanita’s stores.

As part of USDA’s ongoing celebration of National Cooperatives Month, please join us for an upcoming webinar exploring the intersection of two important economic trends: a new wave of cooperative development and the rapid growth in demand for local foods.

This webinar – The Role of Cooperatives in Local Food Systems Development, on Thursday, Oct. 30, 1 pm Eastern Time – will feature national cooperative leaders and development specialists and USDA experts discussing the critical role co-ops play in developing local and regional food systems. Among the USDA staff on the panel will be Ag Economist Jim Barham; Elanor Starmer, our national coordinator for local and regional food systems; and Margaret Bau, a co-op development specialist who has helped launch over 30 co-ops nationwide. Also joining the panel will be Jan Tusick, director of the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center in Montana; Karl Sutton, a farmer/member of the Western Montana Growers Cooperative; and Robin Seydel, Community Development for La Montanita, a retail and consumer co-op in New Mexico. Read more »

Better Service for Rural Renters: Innovative App for Field Employees Streamlines Recordkeeping

Rural Development Specialist Lea McGiboney and Fort Benton, Montana resident Velma Hansen share a laugh as Lea makes sure the Canyon Villas Apartments are providing safe and affordable homes for Velma and her neighbors.

Rural Development Specialist Lea McGiboney and Fort Benton, Montana resident Velma Hansen share a laugh as Lea makes sure the Canyon Villas Apartments are providing safe and affordable homes for Velma and her neighbors.

Velma Hansen has lived in Fort Benton, Montana for over 60 years, the last dozen of them at Canyon Villas. The engaging 91-year-old keeps an impeccably clean apartment in the rent-controlled complex financed by USDA Rural Development. As one of our hundreds of multi-family properties across rural America, Rural Development regularly inspects the properties to ensure they meet basic standards for safe and sanitary housing. If problems are noted, the property owners must address them, and do so immediately.

Right now, a specialist inspects the property, takes paper notes and digital photos, and then returns to the office to input all the data – essentially touching all the data twice to get it in our system – before being able to follow up on any necessary repairs that were noted during the servicing visit. We decided there was opportunity to invest a little technology in streamlining this process. Read more »