Auge Schi

Crops: More Than Your Local Farmer’s Income

With a lot of the state waking up to frost, snow, or temps below 30 degrees, drought and fire season seems like a thing of the past.

But it’s possible we haven’t felt some of the largest repercussions of our last summer.

Friday, Nov. 3, MSU is hosting a day-long conference on Managing Land Resources In the Context of Variable Weather. Experts throughout the day will share knowledge covering everything from Pulse Crops to the Farm Bill to Public Lands. It’s part of the Celebrate Agriculture Weekend at MSU Friday and Saturday.

Crop production is down about 40% statewide compared to 2016. Drought and fires decimated farmers’ and ranchers’ production this year.

And with these low yields, many ag producers’ incomes will be low as well.

It’s easy for those who livelihoods who don’t rely on the land, and whose communities no longer run on ag, to dismiss this news as irrelevant. But Montana is still an agricultural state. And the repercussions of low yields have the potential to ripple throughout all of Montana.

We sat down with Dr. Joe Janzen, a professor in Montana State’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, to talk further.

Dr. Janzen briefly explained that while 2017 tax revenues aren’t known yet, we can assume this summer’s drought will cause farmers and ranchers to report lower incomes.

He went on about how this has the potential to affect state tax collections, putting a dent in the state budget.

And that’s why everyone should give a dang. If ag suffers, the entire state feels the effects.

Producers want to understand how to best respond to dramatic situations like this past summer. And the state needs to understand the repercussions as well.

For any responses to be developed, we all need more information and research to be completed.

One day of presentations cannot set the course for the state, but MSU’s conference this Friday can act as a compass to point us in the right direction.

More information about the Celebrate Agriculture Weekend, including a schedule of events, is available here.

-Andie Creel

Special thanks to Dr. Joe Janzen for talking with us. Feature photo by Augie Sheild.

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