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Montana says North Dakota owes $300,000 in checkoff funds for pulse crops

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Montana officials say the North Dakota pulse crop industry is holding onto $300,000 collected from Montana farmers that should be returned to the state.

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Agweek

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Montana officials say the North Dakota pulse crop industry is holding onto $300,000 collected from Montana farmers that should be returned to the state.

Montana agriculture officials say the money, collected by North Dakota elevators, was supposed to promote Montana’s growing pea and lentil business. But the cash hasn’t made it back.

At issue is a 1 percent checkoff fee farmers pay when delivering their crops for sale. Elevators on either side of the Montana-North Dakota border have collected the fee from farmers of either state for years. Normally, the money has been sent back to the state where the crops were grown.

“The money pays into international marketing, domestic marketing. It pays for research and for trade teams to visit Montana,” said Kim Falcon, Montana Department of Agriculture bureau chief of agricultural development and marketing. “Basically, it pays for all of the work associated with increasing production of pulse acres in the state and marketing.”

But in 2014, the North Dakota Dry Pea and Lentil Council informed Montana that the state would no longer automatically receive its share of checkoff money. North Dakota elevators would continue to charge Montana farmers, but the farmers would have to fill out an application to get the money back. If the North Dakota Dry Pea and Lentil Council granted the farmer’s request, the money would then be returned.

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 In some cases, Montana farmers delivering peas and lentils in North Dakota are being doubled billed, once for the North Dakota checkoff and once for Montana.

 The pea fees became an irritant back in 2007 when Montana farmers began growing more peas and lentils. At the time, Montana was third in the nation for pulse crop production. North Dakota and the Palouse region of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho was second. In just a few years, Montana expanded its pea and lentil acres from 400,000 to 701,000, the most of any state.

 That bulge in Montana pea and lentil production increased the number of Eastern Montana farm trucks hauling pulse crops over the state line for sale in North Dakota. Despite its increased production, Montana still didn’t have many elevators buying pulse crops. The quickest trip to market for farmers in northeast Montana was a North Dakota elevator, Falcon said.

 The more Montana peas and lentils arrived in North Dakota, the more checkoff dollars became an issue. In a memo issued Monday, Montana agriculture officials said the state may be forced to sue if checkoff dollars don’t flow west again.

 

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTACROPS
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