Agriculture and Grazing Management
The Agriculture and Grazing Management Bureau is responsible for leasing and managing approximately 10,000 agreements for crop and rangeland uses on 4.65 million acres of school trust lands throughout the state. Administrative staff and specialists in the department's Helena office and staff in field offices statewide accomplish these duties.
The surface leasing program is responsible for the administrative functions associated with maintaining surface lease agreements. Annual activities include processing approximately 1,000 lease renewals; advertising, competitively bidding, and issuing new leases; reviewing and processing assignments, subleases, pasturing agreements, custom farming agreements, pledges, and mortgages; and collecting, verifying, and posting rentals and fees.
The land management program manages the agricultural and grazing resources on the lands administered by the bureau. This responsibility includes evaluation and assessment of range and crop land condition; compliance with the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA); administration of archeological, paleontological, and historical properties on state trust land; investigations of lease noncompliance; participation in the Federal Farm Program; and oversight of water developments, water rights, and improvement projects such as range renovations and resource development.
Agricultural and Grazing Lands
Currently 3,000 agreements cover agricultural use of state trust lands. Crops raised on these lands are primarily dryland hay and small grains, but also include irrigated grain crops, corn, sugar beets, potatoes, peas, lentils, garbanzo beans, canola, safflower, alfalfa seed, and native grass seed. In FY 2010, revenues totaling $11,472,726 were received from agricultural leasing on 571,000 acres. The majority of the leases are on a crop-share basis with the minimum share of 25 percent set by statute. In addition to receiving rental payments from lessees, the state participates in and receives Farm Program payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency. For FY 2010, this amount exceeded $2.8 million for direct payment contracts, lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Approximately 8,500 agreements include grazing use of trust lands. The 4.07 million acres of classified grazing lands and forest lands have an estimated carrying capacity of 975,766 animal-unit-months (AUMs). The minimum rental rate ($6.12/AUM) for grazing leases is set by a formula which includes the average weighted price for beef cattle sold in Montana during the previous year. In FY 2010, grazing leases generated $6,483,884.
The total number of wildlife conservation licenses sold in FY 2010 was 449,538 which generated $899,076 in gross revenue. A total of 8,387 general recreational use licenses were sold with gross revenues of $82,457. Special recreational use licenses generated $105,783.