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Montana agriculture department sees uptick in grant program applicants

Hemp leaves
Martin Abegglen
Creative Commons
Hemp leaves

An agricultural grant and loan program in Montana has received a record number of applications this year.

The Growth Through Agricultureprogram provides grants of up to $50,000 and loans up to $100,000 to agricultural producers seeking to develop new products and improve productivity.

The state ag department reported this week that it has received 158 proposals requesting $7.8 million in funding, which is the most it’s ever received since the program was created in 1987.

Jim Auer manages grants for the Montana Department of Agriculture. He says the application process this year was revamped, which may have led to an uptick in applicants. And he says other grants offered during the pandemic such as the Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant have raised awareness about funding opportunities.

“Those just sort of raised our profile around the state. All of a sudden, after we did those phone calls just started coming in, folks interested in grant programs for agriculture,” he says.

During the last cycle, the Growth Through Agriculture program funded 30 grants totaling around $800,000.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.