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Montana’s family farms and ranches face uncertain future

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 6/22/20

Between 2012 and 2017, the USDA estimated that the number of agriculture operations owned by an individual, family or partnership in the U.S. decreased about 10 percent while the number of corporate-owned operations increased by about 10 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture, 513 poultry farms with between 3,199 and 10,000 birds were in operation across the country. Montana had just nine at that time. Family-owned poultry farms are rare in the U.S. and remain the exception. Hugh Spencer, a 68-year-old poultry farmer who bought his land in the Clark Fork Valley with his wife in 1981, is preparing for retirement. The Spencers plan to move to Missoula to be closer to their kids and grandkids, but are finding it difficult to find a buyer, an anecdotal example of the issue facing Montana’s aging agricultural owners, reports the Helena Independent Record

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