Program encourages young Montanans to pursue careers in agriculture

Friday, August 7, 2020/Categories: Governor's

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced nearly $100,000 has been awarded to 12 applicants through the Montana Farmer Student Loan Assistance Program, which was created to encourage Montana’s college-educated youth to pursue a primary career in farming or ranching.

The program also seeks to reduce financial stress on farm and ranch operators and promote succession planning to preserve interest in the state’s agricultural future.

“With the average age of producers in Montana at nearly 60 years old, it’s critical we invest in young folks and ensure there’s a path to a sustainable career in agriculture,” Governor Bullock said. “This program is vital to the future of Montana’s ag industry and supports our young producers by removing financial barriers and encouraging younger Montanans to pursue careers in farming and ranching.”

The Montana Farmer Student Loan Assistance Program originated during the 2019 legislative session as House Bill 431 sponsored by Representative Zach Brown. This is the first round of awards made through the program and determined by the Agriculture Development Council. Successful applicants will receive loan assistance for up to five years for qualified education loans. The next funding cycle will open in the Spring of 2021. For more information, visit

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit
July 30, 2020

 USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.

USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.

At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales. USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.

USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds. Visit the APHIS’ website to learn more about USDA’s efforts to stop agricultural smuggling and promote trade compliance.

Applications Accepted until July 1, 2020

The Montana Department of Agriculture administers advisory councils appointed by the Director to provide advice to the Department concerning administration of the Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage Act.  The Department is currently recruiting for open positions on the Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage (NWSFF) Advisory Council.

The following council terms expire September, 2020:

                 Certified Weed Seed Free Forage Producer (Central)
                 Western County Weed District Representative
                 Eastern County Weed District Representative
                 Forage Product Processor

The following council positions are currently vacant:

                 Certified Weed Seed Free Forage Producer (Eastern)
                 Certified Weed Seed Free Forage Producer (Any region)
                 Outfitter’s or Guide’s Organization

Members of the Advisory Council provide guidance to the NWSFF Program, which implements a cooperative forage and product certification system with federal, state, local, and private land managers that benefits the people of this state and other states by producing and making available forage free of noxious weed seeds.  Council meetings are held on one day in January or February of each year.

If you are interested in serving on the Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage Advisory Council, please apply and submit a letter of interest to the Montana Department of Agriculture by July 1, 2020. Applications can be found at  If you’d like to nominate a Montanan to serve on the Council, please ensure your nominee is interested in serving, then submit a nomination to: Montana Department of Agriculture, Attn: Ben Thomas, PO Box 200201, Helena, MT, 59620-0201.

For additional information please contact Jasmine Reimer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 444-3140, or Virginia Corbett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 444-3156.


Bozeman, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently completed a two-year collaborative sampling effort with the Montana Department of Livestock in the Bangtail Mountain Range as part of Montana’s Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project.

One hundred samples taken from elk in the Bangtails in 2019 and 2020 have tested negative for brucellosis exposure.

The surveillance project includes capturing, sampling and collaring elk populations near the DOL’s Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), an area where livestock brucellosis testing and traceability requirements exist due to the presence of brucellosis in elk. The goal of the project, which began in 2011, is to determine the presence of brucellosis in elk and understand the movement patterns of elk populations. This research provides important data to inform the risk of disease transmission between elk and cattle on the landscape.

Elk were also sampled this year in the Ruby Mountains. FWP and DOL announced in February that two among 100 elk sampled there were found to be seropositive for brucellosis, indicating they’ve been exposed to the disease. The Ruby Mountains are currently outside but near the boundary of the DSA.

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can infect humans, but most commonly infects cattle, bison and elk, and can result in abortion or the birth of weak calves. The disease is primarily transmitted through contact with infected birth tissues and fluids.

For more information about brucellosis and the Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project, visit