Montana’s $1.7 billion wheat industry is watching cautiously as foreign buyers react negatively to unauthorized genetically modified wheat discovered in Oregon.
BRUSETT — It’s 9 a.m. and the vast Eastern Montana prairie in Casey Coulter’s windshield is giving way to piney hills and the snowcapped Little Rocky Mountains, which the former bank loan officer points to as evidence he’s not crazy.
The wheat fields on either side of the Montana-Canadian border don’t look any different, but buyers north of the line say U.S. grain is worth less, which bothers Outlook farmer Gordon Stoner.
Farmers are demanding Congress pass a new, $900 billion farm bill by the end of the month, but a conservative Montana economist says there’s no rush. Putting the bill on hold might benefit taxpayers, he said.
Between now and Sept. 30, Congress will work 21 days and that has Montana Farmers Union lobbyist Chris Christiaens doubtful a farm bill can be passed.
When House budget hawks called for deep cuts to federal farm subsidies recently, most people in Montana saw it as a ruinous assault on the state's largest industry.
BOZEMAN — Montana agriculture, the state’s top economic performer since the recession, could easily trip on government policies and high business costs, economists said Friday.