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Farmers’ Almanac calls for Polar Coaster with up-and-down winter weather Tim Leeds tleeds@havredailynews.com North-central Montana saw some much-needed moisture in September, but more is needed,. Weather forecasters are saying Mother Nature could oblige. Moisture shortage The year has not been consistent or very fruitful with precipitation. After a mild, fairly dry January, February let loose, with Weather Service recording the second-coldest February on record in the area. February was rather snowy, as well, although that didn’t set a new record, either. March also saw a few major storms, which helped keep the moisture level bearable for the next few months. With dry weather, however, the region was drying out until some timely rain toward the end of June helped bring the levels back up in many areas. But July and August again were dry. In Havre, July saw .47 hundredths of an inch of precipitation, compared to a normal level of 1.64 inches. August saw .5 inches of precipitation in Havre, with 1.11 inches the normal level. Those shortfalls put the region significantly behind for the year, with Havre at 7.89 inches in August for the calendar year, with the normal level 8.67 inches. For the water year, measured from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, Havre was at 8.66 inches at the end of August with the normal level 10.08 inches. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Clouds hang over hay bales in a field. While recent rain has helped, the moisture level still is behind in north-central Montana.

www.havredailynews.com vation for looking into those symbiotic relationships stemmed from a hypothesis that if the microbes in wheat stem sawflies could be identified and their functions determined, maybe they could be manipulated to work as a management tool for sawflies. “Many insect species have microbial symbionts, and these relationships are often essential to the survival of both organisms,” said Yeoman. “Microbial symbionts have been shown to affect everything from the reproductive success of their insect hosts to their nutrition – allowing them to survive on poor quality diets – and even their ability to defend against pathogens.” So, the team set out to determine what microbes are associated with wheat stem sawflies, and if they could be manipulated to affect the sawfly’s ability to damage wheat crops. Wheat stem sawflies are one of the more widespread wheat pests in western North America, said Weaver, damaging wheat by penetrating the stem to insert their eggs. The larvae then eat tissues lining the stem, inhib-

FARM & RANCH iting photosynthesis and causing lodging – weakening the stem to the point where the plant simply falls over in large swaths. The project was supported by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, which has long been in search of new ways to manage the pest. “We’ve reported 20 percent to 30 percent reductions in seed weight as a result of sawfly feeding,” Weaver saod. “But if the stem falls and a combine doesn’t pick it up, it goes from a 30 percent loss to a 100 percent loss of that stem. It’s a pretty big problem, and it really frustrates growers.” Other members of the research team included Curtis Fowler of animal and range sciences; postdoctoral researcher Laura Brutscher and undergraduate Furkan Ibaoglu, who graduated in 2018, of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and Kevin Wanner of the  Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, along with researchers from the University of Chicago and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. The team began their study by collecting

wheat stem sawflies from two locations at the larval and adult stages. They brought those back to their labs and began to examine them, where they observed three types of genomic material in their samples: wheat plant DNA, sawfly DNA and a previously undescribed species of microbe belonging to the genus Spiroplasma. Based on elements of the microbe’s genome in comparison to the sawfly genome – which was fully sequenced through another project Wanner and Weaver worked on – the team inferred that Spiroplasma sp. WSS might help sawflies break down sugars they eat and helping them to manufacture other nutrients they don’t get from their carbohydrate-heavy diet, including key B vitamins. “[Spiroplasma] plays a role in certain functions the sawfly may not be able to do as well by itself,” said Weaver. “These functions are what we’re trying to understand, and potentially how these things could be adapted, and the role of the symbiont truncated to be used as a potential management tool.” That method has shown potential in other

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research: A group of scholars working in China examined a similar system in pea aphids and found that when symbiotic microbes were inhibited with the use of antibiotics — or in another case, using scorpion venom — the fertility of the aphids fell significantly, reducing their population and the risk they posed to pea plants. It is possible that similar approaches could be used with wheat stem sawflies and the newly identified Spiroplasma symbiont, Weaver said. Yeoman and Weaver plan to make future proposals to further their understanding of the role Spiroplasma sp. WSS plays in sawflies and other insects. “We set out to identify the symbiotic microbes of wheat stem sawflies…so that we could begin to determine if these insect-microbial relationships could be exploited as alternate measures to control WSS damage in crops,” Yeoman and Weaver concluded in their paper. “The identification of Spiroplasma sp. WSS and greater genetic insight into its metabolism provide a critical first step toward our pursuit of a novel biocontrol approach.”

Proposals sought for Potato Research and Market Development Program Proposals due Oct. 25 From Montana Department of Agriculture HELENA — The Montana Potato Advisory Committee is seeking proposals for the Montana Potato Research and Market Development Program. Proposals should relate to demonstration projects, applied research and market development projects designed to address needs and opportunities for the Montana potato industry. The committee has established the follow-

ing research priorities for the 2019-2020 funding cycle: 1. Management of potato viruses and their vectors; 2. Stem and tuber diseases caused by fungi and bacteria — such as blackleg, scab, soft rot and ringrot; and 3. Weeds as alternate hosts for potato pathogens The committee will review proposals at the first regular meeting of the year. It will review all applications and make recommendations to the department for funding. Projects must be innovative and not duplicate

relevant research already available to Montana potato producers. If relevant research is available, the applicant must explain how the proposed research will build upon the previous research. In 2018, Montana produced 3,380,000 cwt of potatoes. The total value of potato production topped $49.8 million. Visit https://fundingmt.org to apply. All applications must be submitted through the Montana Webgrants system. Questions on applications should be directed to the Montana Potato Research and Market Development Program, PO Box 200201,

USDA: Now accepting proposals for RCPP. ■ Continued from page 3 blackbird colonies. In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership is using RCPP to build the capacity of watershed stakeholders within the Milwaukee River watershed. This will help to conserve farmland, improve water and soil quality and deliver good food, all while giving local farmers a helping hand. USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP. Proposals are due December 3, 2019. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP webpage https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/ financial/rcpp/?cid=stelprdb1242732 or view the Application for Program funding on http://www.grants.gov.

Check us out at www.havredailynews.com

Helena, MT 59620-0201 or by contacting Dani Jones at 406-444-2402 or via email at Danielle. Jones@mt.gov . 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 http://agr.mt.gov .


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MSU research team discovers new microbe in wheat stem sawfly Reagan Colyer MSU News Service BOZEMAN — A team of researchers in M o n ta n a S ta t e U n i ve rs i t y ’s C o l l e ge o f Agriculture  has discovered a previously unidentified microbe that lives symbiotically with the wheat stem sawfly, a pest that causes hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to wheat crops each year. The discovery, the result of a years-long project, provides the basis for future research that could be vital to combating losses due to wheat stem sawflies in Montana and beyond. Carl Yeoman in the Department of Animal and Ra n g e S c i e n c e s   a n d D av i d We ave r i n the  Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences  published a paper  in the journal PeerJ in August along with a team of colleagues. The paper outlines the discovery of the microbe Spiroplasma sp. WSS — its name a nod to the wheat stem sawflies in which it was discovered. The project was inspired by knowledge of similar symbiotic relationships between other insects and microbes inside them. Yeoman said wheat stem sawflies cause as much as $350 million in damage to wheat crops each year in the Northern Great Plains. The motiMSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez Montana State University's College of Agriculture faculty member David Weaver observes wheat variations for wheat stem sawfly cutting at a study plot near Amsterdam Sept. 13. Weaver and associate professor Carl Yeoman are co-authors in a wheat stem sawfly genome study, researching the microbial ecology of the invasive pest.

www.havredailynews.com The moisture improved in September. The records for Sept. 25, the last data available at the time this article was written, Havre had received 1.08 inches compared to a norm of .95 inches. The amount for the calendar year totaled 8.77 inches compared to a norm of 9.62 inches and, for the water year, 9.74 inches compared to a norm of 11.03 inches. Drought The drought situation in Montana has improved, apparently due to timely moisture.

FARM & RANCH A month ago, the state drought monitor showed the northwestern corner of the state in mild drought and a stretch of land listed as abnormally dry through Hill County. By the end of September, the state map showed the very northwest corner of Montana in abnormally dry conditions and the rest of the state in normal conditions. That is predicted to remain the drought status in Montana through December. Different winter forecasts Famers’ Almanac is predicting such an up-and-down weather situation it is calling

the upcoming winter a Polar Coaster. The Almanac predicts temperatures will drop significantly in January and February, with the coldest temperatures hitting the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes. The Almanac forecast also predicts above-normal winter precipitation over the eastern third of the country and the Great Plains, Midwest, and the Great Lakes. The Pacific Northwest and Southwest are expected to see near-normal precipitation. The Old Farmer’s Almanac also is predicting a cold and snowy 2019-20 winter, with “a parade of snowstorms” in its predic-

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tion for eastern Washington to the Great Lakes. National Weather Service forecast is a bit milder. The forecast through December predicts a 35 percent to 40 percent probability Montana will see above-normal temperatures and a 33 percent chance for most of the state that it will see above-normal precipitation. Weather Service forecasts for Montana through March call for a chance of abovenormal precipitation, along with a chance for above-normal temperatures for most of the state.

USDA to invest up to $300 million in partner-driven conservation Application period has opened for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program From USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service WA S H I N GTO N — U S DA ' s N a t u ra l Resources Conservation Service announced today the launch of the updated Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Potential partners are encouraged to submit proposals that will improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. RCPP eligible partners include private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments,

water districts and universities. Partners may request between $250,000 and $10 million in RCPP funding through this funding announcement. Leveraging of this NRCS funding is a key principle of RCPP; partners are expected to make value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. “The new RCPP offers opportunities for partners and NRCS to develop and implement unique conservation solutions that engage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “A single RCPP project can include just about any Farm Bill conservation activity that NRCS is authorized to carry out. We’re really looking forward to what our partners across the Nation propose to do with these new flexibilities.” The first iteration of RCPP, which was created originally by the 2014 Farm Bill, combined nearly $1 billion in NRCS investments

with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars to implement conservation practices across the Nation. There are currently 375 active RCPP projects that have engaged close to 2,000 partners. The 2018 Farm Bill made substantive changes to the program to make it more straightforward for partners and producers. Previously, in the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP derived much of its funding from other NRCS conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. RCPP is now a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding, simplifying rules for partners and producers. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduces the number of funding pools to make the submission and approval process easier. Today’s announcement soliciting applications marks the first step in the implementation of the new RCPP. Later this fall, NRCS

will publish a rule in the Federal Register that will establish the policies for the program and further outline the funding process. In addition, the RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangement provision will be implemented through a separate funding announcement following publication of the RCPP rule. Up to $300 million is available for RCPP projects for fiscal 2019. Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions, offer impactful and measurable outcomes, and are implemented by capable partners. For example, in 2018, an RCPP project led by Audubon California and Western United Dairymen saved all of California’s known tricolored blackbird colonies by using RCPP funding to compensate landowners for postponing harvests in fields taken over by

■ See N ew varieties Page 11


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MSU research team discovers new microbe in wheat stem sawfly Reagan Colyer MSU News Service BOZEMAN — A team of researchers in M o n ta n a S ta t e U n i ve rs i t y ’s C o l l e ge o f Agriculture  has discovered a previously unidentified microbe that lives symbiotically with the wheat stem sawfly, a pest that causes hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to wheat crops each year. The discovery, the result of a years-long project, provides the basis for future research that could be vital to combating losses due to wheat stem sawflies in Montana and beyond. Carl Yeoman in the Department of Animal and Ra n g e S c i e n c e s   a n d D av i d We ave r i n the  Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences  published a paper  in the journal PeerJ in August along with a team of colleagues. The paper outlines the discovery of the microbe Spiroplasma sp. WSS — its name a nod to the wheat stem sawflies in which it was discovered. The project was inspired by knowledge of similar symbiotic relationships between other insects and microbes inside them. Yeoman said wheat stem sawflies cause as much as $350 million in damage to wheat crops each year in the Northern Great Plains. The motiMSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez Montana State University's College of Agriculture faculty member David Weaver observes wheat variations for wheat stem sawfly cutting at a study plot near Amsterdam Sept. 13. Weaver and associate professor Carl Yeoman are co-authors in a wheat stem sawfly genome study, researching the microbial ecology of the invasive pest.

www.havredailynews.com The moisture improved in September. The records for Sept. 25, the last data available at the time this article was written, Havre had received 1.08 inches compared to a norm of .95 inches. The amount for the calendar year totaled 8.77 inches compared to a norm of 9.62 inches and, for the water year, 9.74 inches compared to a norm of 11.03 inches. Drought The drought situation in Montana has improved, apparently due to timely moisture.

FARM & RANCH A month ago, the state drought monitor showed the northwestern corner of the state in mild drought and a stretch of land listed as abnormally dry through Hill County. By the end of September, the state map showed the very northwest corner of Montana in abnormally dry conditions and the rest of the state in normal conditions. That is predicted to remain the drought status in Montana through December. Different winter forecasts Famers’ Almanac is predicting such an up-and-down weather situation it is calling

the upcoming winter a Polar Coaster. The Almanac predicts temperatures will drop significantly in January and February, with the coldest temperatures hitting the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes. The Almanac forecast also predicts above-normal winter precipitation over the eastern third of the country and the Great Plains, Midwest, and the Great Lakes. The Pacific Northwest and Southwest are expected to see near-normal precipitation. The Old Farmer’s Almanac also is predicting a cold and snowy 2019-20 winter, with “a parade of snowstorms” in its predic-

October 2019

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tion for eastern Washington to the Great Lakes. National Weather Service forecast is a bit milder. The forecast through December predicts a 35 percent to 40 percent probability Montana will see above-normal temperatures and a 33 percent chance for most of the state that it will see above-normal precipitation. Weather Service forecasts for Montana through March call for a chance of abovenormal precipitation, along with a chance for above-normal temperatures for most of the state.

USDA to invest up to $300 million in partner-driven conservation Application period has opened for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program From USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service WA S H I N GTO N — U S DA ' s N a t u ra l Resources Conservation Service announced today the launch of the updated Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Potential partners are encouraged to submit proposals that will improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. RCPP eligible partners include private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments,

water districts and universities. Partners may request between $250,000 and $10 million in RCPP funding through this funding announcement. Leveraging of this NRCS funding is a key principle of RCPP; partners are expected to make value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. “The new RCPP offers opportunities for partners and NRCS to develop and implement unique conservation solutions that engage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “A single RCPP project can include just about any Farm Bill conservation activity that NRCS is authorized to carry out. We’re really looking forward to what our partners across the Nation propose to do with these new flexibilities.” The first iteration of RCPP, which was created originally by the 2014 Farm Bill, combined nearly $1 billion in NRCS investments

with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars to implement conservation practices across the Nation. There are currently 375 active RCPP projects that have engaged close to 2,000 partners. The 2018 Farm Bill made substantive changes to the program to make it more straightforward for partners and producers. Previously, in the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP derived much of its funding from other NRCS conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. RCPP is now a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding, simplifying rules for partners and producers. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduces the number of funding pools to make the submission and approval process easier. Today’s announcement soliciting applications marks the first step in the implementation of the new RCPP. Later this fall, NRCS

will publish a rule in the Federal Register that will establish the policies for the program and further outline the funding process. In addition, the RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangement provision will be implemented through a separate funding announcement following publication of the RCPP rule. Up to $300 million is available for RCPP projects for fiscal 2019. Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions, offer impactful and measurable outcomes, and are implemented by capable partners. For example, in 2018, an RCPP project led by Audubon California and Western United Dairymen saved all of California’s known tricolored blackbird colonies by using RCPP funding to compensate landowners for postponing harvests in fields taken over by

■ See N ew varieties Page 11


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Farmers’ Almanac calls for Polar Coaster with up-and-down winter weather Tim Leeds tleeds@havredailynews.com North-central Montana saw some much-needed moisture in September, but more is needed,. Weather forecasters are saying Mother Nature could oblige. Moisture shortage The year has not been consistent or very fruitful with precipitation. After a mild, fairly dry January, February let loose, with Weather Service recording the second-coldest February on record in the area. February was rather snowy, as well, although that didn’t set a new record, either. March also saw a few major storms, which helped keep the moisture level bearable for the next few months. With dry weather, however, the region was drying out until some timely rain toward the end of June helped bring the levels back up in many areas. But July and August again were dry. In Havre, July saw .47 hundredths of an inch of precipitation, compared to a normal level of 1.64 inches. August saw .5 inches of precipitation in Havre, with 1.11 inches the normal level. Those shortfalls put the region significantly behind for the year, with Havre at 7.89 inches in August for the calendar year, with the normal level 8.67 inches. For the water year, measured from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, Havre was at 8.66 inches at the end of August with the normal level 10.08 inches. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Clouds hang over hay bales in a field. While recent rain has helped, the moisture level still is behind in north-central Montana.

www.havredailynews.com vation for looking into those symbiotic relationships stemmed from a hypothesis that if the microbes in wheat stem sawflies could be identified and their functions determined, maybe they could be manipulated to work as a management tool for sawflies. “Many insect species have microbial symbionts, and these relationships are often essential to the survival of both organisms,” said Yeoman. “Microbial symbionts have been shown to affect everything from the reproductive success of their insect hosts to their nutrition – allowing them to survive on poor quality diets – and even their ability to defend against pathogens.” So, the team set out to determine what microbes are associated with wheat stem sawflies, and if they could be manipulated to affect the sawfly’s ability to damage wheat crops. Wheat stem sawflies are one of the more widespread wheat pests in western North America, said Weaver, damaging wheat by penetrating the stem to insert their eggs. The larvae then eat tissues lining the stem, inhib-

FARM & RANCH iting photosynthesis and causing lodging – weakening the stem to the point where the plant simply falls over in large swaths. The project was supported by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, which has long been in search of new ways to manage the pest. “We’ve reported 20 percent to 30 percent reductions in seed weight as a result of sawfly feeding,” Weaver saod. “But if the stem falls and a combine doesn’t pick it up, it goes from a 30 percent loss to a 100 percent loss of that stem. It’s a pretty big problem, and it really frustrates growers.” Other members of the research team included Curtis Fowler of animal and range sciences; postdoctoral researcher Laura Brutscher and undergraduate Furkan Ibaoglu, who graduated in 2018, of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and Kevin Wanner of the  Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, along with researchers from the University of Chicago and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. The team began their study by collecting

wheat stem sawflies from two locations at the larval and adult stages. They brought those back to their labs and began to examine them, where they observed three types of genomic material in their samples: wheat plant DNA, sawfly DNA and a previously undescribed species of microbe belonging to the genus Spiroplasma. Based on elements of the microbe’s genome in comparison to the sawfly genome – which was fully sequenced through another project Wanner and Weaver worked on – the team inferred that Spiroplasma sp. WSS might help sawflies break down sugars they eat and helping them to manufacture other nutrients they don’t get from their carbohydrate-heavy diet, including key B vitamins. “[Spiroplasma] plays a role in certain functions the sawfly may not be able to do as well by itself,” said Weaver. “These functions are what we’re trying to understand, and potentially how these things could be adapted, and the role of the symbiont truncated to be used as a potential management tool.” That method has shown potential in other

October 2019

11

research: A group of scholars working in China examined a similar system in pea aphids and found that when symbiotic microbes were inhibited with the use of antibiotics — or in another case, using scorpion venom — the fertility of the aphids fell significantly, reducing their population and the risk they posed to pea plants. It is possible that similar approaches could be used with wheat stem sawflies and the newly identified Spiroplasma symbiont, Weaver said. Yeoman and Weaver plan to make future proposals to further their understanding of the role Spiroplasma sp. WSS plays in sawflies and other insects. “We set out to identify the symbiotic microbes of wheat stem sawflies…so that we could begin to determine if these insect-microbial relationships could be exploited as alternate measures to control WSS damage in crops,” Yeoman and Weaver concluded in their paper. “The identification of Spiroplasma sp. WSS and greater genetic insight into its metabolism provide a critical first step toward our pursuit of a novel biocontrol approach.”

Proposals sought for Potato Research and Market Development Program Proposals due Oct. 25 From Montana Department of Agriculture HELENA — The Montana Potato Advisory Committee is seeking proposals for the Montana Potato Research and Market Development Program. Proposals should relate to demonstration projects, applied research and market development projects designed to address needs and opportunities for the Montana potato industry. The committee has established the follow-

ing research priorities for the 2019-2020 funding cycle: 1. Management of potato viruses and their vectors; 2. Stem and tuber diseases caused by fungi and bacteria — such as blackleg, scab, soft rot and ringrot; and 3. Weeds as alternate hosts for potato pathogens The committee will review proposals at the first regular meeting of the year. It will review all applications and make recommendations to the department for funding. Projects must be innovative and not duplicate

relevant research already available to Montana potato producers. If relevant research is available, the applicant must explain how the proposed research will build upon the previous research. In 2018, Montana produced 3,380,000 cwt of potatoes. The total value of potato production topped $49.8 million. Visit https://fundingmt.org to apply. All applications must be submitted through the Montana Webgrants system. Questions on applications should be directed to the Montana Potato Research and Market Development Program, PO Box 200201,

USDA: Now accepting proposals for RCPP. ■ Continued from page 3 blackbird colonies. In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership is using RCPP to build the capacity of watershed stakeholders within the Milwaukee River watershed. This will help to conserve farmland, improve water and soil quality and deliver good food, all while giving local farmers a helping hand. USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP. Proposals are due December 3, 2019. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP webpage https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/ financial/rcpp/?cid=stelprdb1242732 or view the Application for Program funding on http://www.grants.gov.

Check us out at www.havredailynews.com

Helena, MT 59620-0201 or by contacting Dani Jones at 406-444-2402 or via email at Danielle. Jones@mt.gov . 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 http://agr.mt.gov .


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