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Montana Ag Network: Bee pollination funding, ag census

Posted at 11:56 AM, Apr 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-15 09:52:19-04

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering additional funding through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to target honey bee pollinator resource concerns in Montana this year.

The NRCS will work with agricultural producers to combat future declines by helping producers implement conservation practices that provide forage for honey bees while enhancing habitat for other pollinators and wildlife.

EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Conservation practices must be up to NRCS standards and specifications.

The NRCS accepts EQIP applications on a continuous basis. The NRCS has a deadline of May 10 to apply for the 2019 initiative funding.

In other news, it’s not just Montana that’s experiencing snowmelt as farmers in Oregon are also under water.

Oregon farmer Bart Edwards said rising water levels have drowned out some of his lands and will impact his crop this year.

“It’s kind of frustrating. I put out the fertilizer and then you get all this rainfall,” he said.

Local farm agencies may have multiple programs to help farmers with damaged land. In this case, they can help clean up debris on farmland brought by floodwaters.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service released the 2017 Census of Agriculture on Thursday highlighting several key data points important to Montana’s agriculture industry.

The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is taken only once every five years.

The census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures. One of the more significant data points from the report is that farm income in Montana is down nearly 30 percent since 2012.

The loss in farm income shows Montana farmers have not been immune to the higher input costs, extreme weather, and market volatility.

There are also several bright spots shown in the report as women are making up a larger piece of the Montana agriculture pie with nearly 24 percent more female producers since 2012.

Montana producers also continue to show their willingness to adopt new technologies and conservation techniques, with no-till acreage up over 17 percent from 2012.

The next Montana Ag Network feature on Sunday examines what happens after farmers and ranchers are forced to deal with below freezing temperatures for over a month.

Even though it’s tough on agriculture, the snow and cold can also be beneficial.

Following a rather mild start to winter, snow fell just in time to help blanket and protect crops before the brutally cold weather set in. The snow also helped to block out damaging winds, which often dry out soil and impact winter wheat crops.

It’s still early, but experts remain hopeful regarding this year’s winter wheat crop.