GLENDIVE, Mont. - Canadian-based international trading company ITC International Inc. has opened a pulse crop receiving facility in collaboration with MidRivers Economic Development and the Montana Department of Agriculture. The new facility gives producers more options in bringing their crops to the market.

“Most people are starting to realize that Montana is number one in the pulse crop productions in the country. Acreage is going up every year, and there is a need for more storage and more markets to show the Montana quality,” says Treston Vermandel, a business development specialist with MDA. Since opening, the facility has increased bushel storage from 16,000 to 40,000.

According to the MDA, Montana took the lead in nationwide pulse crop acreage in 2011 and leads the nation for dry pea and lentil production. More Montana producers are including peas, lentils and chickpeas in their rotations as the number of elevators and processing plants increase throughout the state.

“The people in the community have been great,” Vermandel says. “We’re working with MSU Extension Agents and MidRivers Economic Development to connect with growers and producers who can better enhance their harvest. It’s another outlet to market their crops.”

The facility has been receiving peas, lentils and chickpeas for the past five weeks, mostly destined for overseas markets in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan where demand is high. ITC contracts the pulse and specialty crops, and has producers bring them to the facility where they are stored, processed, loaded and sold to specialty markets.

“Peas and lentils are new buzzwords these days, especially with the fluctuating price of wheat and other crops, says Kathy McLane, Community Resource Specialist with MidRivers Communications. McLane says diversifying rotating crops when possible has additional benefits to soil. Pulses are a versatile crop that Montana farmers can grow to promote biodiversity, improve soil health and generate income from local and global markets.

Montana’s generally warmer climate means Montana crops are ready to harvest five weeks earlier than Canadian crops and, according to McLane, research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ag Research Service compared crops that will compliment rather than compete with Canada to create niche markets that work well for producers in the region.

“As with wheat and other crops, prices fluctuate,” McLane says. “ITC hopes our farmers will be able to plant different varieties on their acreage so that if the price of one type is down, the others will continue to produce and provide a more stable base.”

ITC International Inc. has been involved in international trade for over 20 years and supplies products to over 20 countries worldwide. President John Piracha plans to have a meeting of growers in the area in the coming months to promote outreach and community building. Currently operating in Canada and the U.S., ITC plans to expand into other areas once an evaluation of the Glendive facility has been completed. Piracha chose Glendive because of its growing presence in the pulse crop markets.

“Basically, we’re looking forward to working with everyone in eastern Montana and western North Dakota,” Piracha says.