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Montana Ag Network: Farmers feeling impact of drought

Posted at 9:30 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 11:38:45-04

FAIRFIELD — As wildfires, drought, and grasshoppers plague the state, the Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA) is providing resources for producers impacted by this year's drought.

“It's getting to be a dire situation out there for everybody,” said Fairfield’s Mitch Konen, president of the Montana Grain Growers.

Statewide, farmers are experiencing some of the worst growing conditions in decades.

“A lot of the spring crops are what’s hurting the most, especially in any re-crop acres,” said Konen. “They're the ones that are feeling the brunt of this. The winter wheat acreage seems to be looking like it's going to be average at best. We have heard of a few stories of farmers cutting spring wheat that is coming in with low test weight and high protein. So, their crops are off.”

As the state's winter wheat harvest picks up, Montana's winter wheat condition ratings continue to plummet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 13 percent of Montana’s winter wheat crop is rated good to excellent, compared to 84 percent this time last year. The spring wheat crop is rated just 12 percent good to excellent compared to 79 percent in 2020.

The MGGA is actively engaged with the governor's office and Montana's elected delegation in Washington to ensure farmers' drought experiences are being heard and resources are available.

MGGA’s Montana Market Manager website provides grain and livestock producers with the tools and information necessary to maximize profits from the marketplace.

The online platform provides MGGA members a place where they can submit their own drought reports to help keep decision makers informed of conditions in the countryside.

“With Montana Market Manager, there's a crop report that comes out every week,” said Konen. “In addition, most farmers send in crop and drought reports from around the state. Those are looked at by drought impact officials.”

With many wheat and barley crops in tough shape, farmers may choose to harvest the crops as livestock feed or other options. Before they do, Konen encourages them to contact their insurance agencies.

“Make sure and keep in touch with your insurance carriers if you plan to hay your grain crops,” said Konen. “That’s important when it comes to your policy and guidelines that come with it. Make sure you get in touch with your Farm Service Agency office and make sure you're not doing something that's just going to hurt you in the long run in the management of your farm.”

More drought resources available through USDA can be found by clicking here.