Resources for Montana ag producers facing drought

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Last week, Nick Hagerty wrote about challenges in capturing the impact of drought on ag profits. Economists like Nick are working on better ways to model changes and adaptations brought on by drought. And farmers and ranchers here in Montana can tell you that the current drought is bringing on some difficult farm management decisions. Many of these aren’t purely financial, such as the decision of whether and how much liquidate a herd a rancher has been carefully building over the years. I’ve been seeing drought questions that bridge multiple topics–from agronomic concerns, animal health, farm and ranch finance, as well as stress and mental health.

All of this is coming up because the drought in we’re experiencing here in Montana is no joke. (And according to the US Drought Monitor, parts of many western states are faring worse than Montana.) We will likely be writing more posts covering drought topics over the coming weeks, but for now, here are a few resources that I have used so far in answering questions I’ve received.

An overview of Montana-relevant USDA disaster assistance programs

  • Note that FSA issued an updated newsletter on Fri, July 23 stating that livestock producers in 44 counties are now eligible for Livestock Forage Disaster Program assistance.
  • For more information, producers can visit farmers.gov and fsa.usda.gov/mt

Recordings from the MSU Animal and Range Extension 2021 drought webinar series: Covering drought livestock reproduction strategies, forage, cattle and range management

Recordings from the University of Wyoming RightRisk Drought Contingency Plan webinar: Tips on developing and evaluating a drought contingency plan and communication between permitees and federal agencies

Ag negotiation resources: Drought can necessitate re-negotiating stocking rates or other considerations. These guides can help to prepare.

Montana Ag Producer Stress Resource Clearinghouse: Resources to help measure and manage stress and mental health for the ag community

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About Author

Kate Binzen Fuller is an assistant professor and extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. Her extension and research program focuses on the economics of farm management decisions, including USDA programs and policies, pest and disease responses, and issues surrounding leasing and land values. Kate’s extension program takes her on the road often, resulting in a rapidly expanding knowledge and appreciation for Montana’s interstates, highways, and (especially) gravel roads.

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