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Former Agriculture Director To Oversee Montana COVID Relief Funding

Montana Department of Agriculture

Gov. Greg Gianforte is tapping former Montana Department of Agriculture Director Mike Foster to oversee the rollout of $1.5 billion of COVID relief funding flowing into the state.

Gianforte’s office cited Foster’s experience leading the Montana Department of Agriculture, the Montana USDA Farm Service Agency, and his experience in the state House and Senate as reasons why he was picked to manage over a billion dollars in spending. 

Several advisory commissions will also help review project and funding applications, and provide recommendations on which proposals receive funding. 

The American Rescue Plan passed through Congress in March, and state lawmakers hashed out the framework for how the money the legislation sent to the state will be spent. They earmarked millions of dollars for local water and sewer infrastructure, state capital and broadband projects across the state.

There will be millions of dollars for mortgage and rental assistance, and for workforce training. The state health department has also received millions for several programs, including $23 million to support the public health workforce.

The governor’s office says state Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Christy Clark will assume acting role of the department as Foster takes on the new position.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.