Montana oilseed growers are deciding whether they will agree with a proposed 0.5 percent checkoff.
The oilseeds the checkoff will cover include canola, soybean, mustard, safflower, flax and sunflower.
Montana growers grow oilseeds in rotation, and while oilseeds are grown for economic reasons, they also improve the soil.
Last year, 25 oilseed growers requested an advisory committee be established for oilseed education, marketing, and research. They sent a petition into the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA).
After a listening session was held by the MDA, as required by law, the Montana Oilseed Advisory Committee was formed.
The checkoff was changed from 1 percent to 0.5 percent recently. Oilseed growers received a ballot to see if they would agree to the 0.5 percent checkoff funds.
“Montana’s oilseed production has grown significantly in recent years, and I share the committee’s excitement for establishing a state checkoff program to continue advancing the industry,” said Mike Foster, MDA director.
Foster said checkoff programs have a long history of improving and expanding markets for growers.
There is new growth in Montana for oilseeds, in particular canola. Acreage is expected to increase for growing canola as a fish food. Research centers are also researching growing sunflowers in more acreage throughout the state.
In Sidney and Kintyre Flats, soybeans are being accepted at the elevators now.
“Canola production is forecast to total more than 210 million pounds in 2019, a 62 percent increase from Montana’s 2018 crop, according to the USDA,” said Zach Coccoli of the MDA.
Cargill in Great Falls has developed a special canola as a fish food, and that is expected to increase grower acreage next year with its canola.
If the checkoff on oilseeds passes, the Montana Oilseed Advisory Committee will advise the MDA on how to invest the funds for research, market development, and education.
The MDA currently administers the Montana Potato Advisory Committee, the Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, the Montana Hemp Advisory Committee, and the Montana Pulse Crop Committee.