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How is Russia-Ukraine conflict affecting Montana wheat prices?

Cassidy Marn
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GREAT FALLS — Wheat and barley prices are continuing to spike at drastic rates. The Montana Wheat & Barley Committee is shocked at how quickly prices are rising.

In less than two weeks barley prices have increased nearly 11%. We spoke to the MWBC less than two weeks ago about how the Russia-Ukraine conflict may be increasing wheat prices. However, they didn’t really expect the drastic jump that was to come.

Cassidy Marn, executive vice president of MWBC, is baffled by the dramatic increase she continues to see: “We're watching futures go limit up week after week with this overall per bushel crop. At this point today we are well over $9 for both Winter Wheat and Spring Wheat futures. Last week we saw the largest rise that we have seen since 1959.”

The demand is there but the supply is not. Montana farmer Charlie Bumgarner who has been farming in this area for nearly 30 years explains a similar situation that happened in the early 2000s.

“In 2007-2008 prices were spiking, it wasn’t because of a war or anything like that, but we were seeing prices reaching $17 per bushel.” Unfortunately for Charlie he didn’t see that coming so he wasn’t able to profit as much as he had hoped.

However he does explain how that jump in prices really bailed out some farmers.

That may have been the case in 2008 however this year may not be a repeat.

Inflation is at a 40-year hight, and the 2021 season was not the best for farmers given the dry circumstances.

But remains hopeful: “It’s all about if we can get it to the bin and that’s really our main focus at this time. It always seems like the sky is falling but it’s not, we’re really actually in a pretty good situation.”