On Wednesday, Montana governor Steve Bullock and the Montana Department of Agriculture awarded nearly $1.2 million in sub-grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBG). The program and funds focus on bolstering Montana agriculture through defined specialty crops, including honey, apples, beets, blueberries, lentils, chickpeas and potatoes.
Montana State University received the largest amount of sub-grants, eight totaling nearly $800,000. Other recipients include the Western Montana Growers Cooperative, Organic Seed Alliance, Great Falls Development Authority, Lake County Community Development Corporation, and USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council.
Researchers at MSU will be studying honey bee colony health to better understand the role of pathogens, colony strength, and additional factors in the almond pollination system. Many Montana bee colonies travel to almond producing areas in California to pollinate almond groves in the fall. Research has shown that the majority of colony deaths occur during almond pollination, averaging 32 percent since 2006. Pollinator health is critically important agriculture and food security.