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Montana Department of Agriculture

Updated: September 4, 2020

Sun setting over a field of wheat.
Sun setting over a field of wheat.

If asked, "where does the food that you eat come from?" what would you say? The store? Well, sure it comes from the store, but where does it come from before it gets to the store? Fortunately, we have agricultural organizations that help educate all those who do not already know Montana's agricultural facts and figures.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is just one of the many departments that researches Montana's facts and figures and promotes Montana's agriculture. The Montana Department of Agriculture is made up of the Director's Office and three divisions: the Central Management Division, the Agricultural Sciences Division, and the Agricultural Development Division. The Montana Department of Agriculture is similar to a school.

The director's Office and the Central Management Division are like the principal's office in a school . . . people in leadership roles making important decisions, and the Director, is just like a principal! He stays on top of the latest issues in agriculture and represents Montana's agriculture industry all around the U.S. and even in other countries. The Central Management Division provides services such as the accounting, computer programing, legal support, and payroll. They are very important because they control what goes on at the heart of the department.

The Agricultural Development Division and the Agricultural Sciences Division work hard to educate the public about the importance of Montana's agriculture and provide those services needed to keep agriculture our number one industry.

The Agricultural Development Division is made up of three bureaus: the Rural Development Bureau, the Wheat and Barley Bureau, and the Montana State Grain Laboratory. Some of the programs involved with the Agricultural Development Division are the Finance program, the State Hail Insurance program, and the Marketing program.

The Finance program provides grants and loans to youth organizations, farmers, and ranchers. The State Hail Insurance program insures a farmers crops from damage created by hail storms. The Marketing program promotes new agricultural marketing techniques and product development through a variety of projects such as grants, seed capital loans, and development ventures.

Happy organic fruit

The Agricultural Sciences Division is made up of three Bureaus: the Laboratory Bureau, the Technical Services Bureau, and the Field Services Bureau. The Agricultural Sciences Division provides a wide variety of services regarding issues like weeds, ground water quality, insects, fertilizers, pesticide usage, nurseries, crop inspection services, and grain merchandising. They are responsible for the registration, certification, licensing, training, and consulting of the public and other agriculture agencies. The Agricultural Sciences Division performs a lot of field and laboratory work. Part of their field work is with honey bees . . . ouch!

Ever wonder who comes up with facts like "Montana's agriculture brings in more than $2.2 billion dollars a year"? Who are these people, where do they get their facts and figures, and why do they need them?

Statistics for Montana are gathered and recorded by the Montana Agriculture Statistics Service, in cooperation with the Montana Department of Agriculture, by mailing out surveys, talking to farmers and ranchers on the phone, and doing a lot of traveling to agricultural businesses and organizations. The statistics behind Montana's facts and figures play a very important role in local and global agriculture. It gives farmers, ranchers, and other agriculture related fields the knowledge to be competitive within business. So, next time you hear a statement like, "Montana's number one industry is agriculture," you'll know who helped to come up with it and why!

Agriculture is constantly changing with the advancement of technology. The Montana Department of Agriculture researches, records, teaches, and promotes new and innovative techniques in agriculture. Just like school, the department works hard to educate you, so that when you are asked "where does the food you eat come from?" you can say, "agriculture!"

Updated: September 4, 2020

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