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Montana Ag Network: USDA issues grasshopper forecast

Posted at 7:28 PM, Mar 11, 2024

GREAT FALLS — The United States Department of Agriculture released its 2024 Grasshopper Hazard Forecast in October of 2023. It predicts that much of Central and Eastern Montana will see a large density of grasshoppers this year.

The USDA reports, there are nearly 400 grasshopper species that inhabit the Western United States, but only a small number (12) are considered pests. Grasshoppers are known to cause damage to cultivated crops like corn, alfalfa, barley, and wheat.


As many livestock producers have recovered hay supply issues in recent years, the Montana Stockgrowers Association is concerned with the amount of aid available for pesticide programs.

"If you have a problem with your your neighbor's cattle and spraying on your place and eating your grass, it's your responsibility to build a good fence and keep them out. We can't fence those grasshoppers out," explained John Grande, President of MSGA. "For the producers that have been spraying their grasshoppers with their own dollars for the past several years, it does no good to spray them on your place.If there's still a concentration of all of them around you that just cross the fence and come back on your property as soon as you're done spraying."

In the middle of February, the Montana Stockgrowers Association sent a letter to U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, to find ways to allot more funding to combat pests.

A news release on Friday from U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana highlights Congress passing a mini-bus funding package to keep the government afloat. It offers $30.5 million for Packers and Stockyards (P&S) enforcement, $3.5 million for Western Precision Livestock Management, with Montana receiving $1 million, invests in the Rangeland Grasshopper suppression program, and increased funding for the Barley Pest Initiative.

There was no definitive number issued to battle grasshoppers.

Montana Stockgrowers Association offered a number of webinars of livestock producers on grasshoppers this year. MSGA and MTN will continue to monitor the grasshopper population and its effect on Montana agriculture throughout the year.

If you are an agriculture producer looking for resources on grasshopper mitigation, contact MSGA at 406-442–3420 or you county Extension Agent. A list of resources can be found here.