Montana State Trust Land Revenue Down Compared to Last Year

Officials said decline due to fluctuations in commodity prices and weather

By Associated Press

HELENA — Revenue produced by Montana’s state trust lands decreased over the last fiscal year that ended in June because of fluctuations in commodity prices and weather, officials said.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said state trust lands produced about $92.1 million in revenue, a decrease of $7.1 million from 2019, The Independent Record reports.

The department’s annual report for 2020 that was presented to the Montana State Board of Land Commissioners said revenue was below the 10-year average of about $102 million but near the five-year average of about $92 million.

The report detailed revenue produced by agriculture, forestry, mining and real estate from about 8,125 surface square miles (21,044 square kilometers) and 9,688 mineral square miles (25,092 square kilometers) that lies on state trust land.

Revenue produced from state trust land primarily benefits schools, universities, the Montana Veterans Home and public buildings. Most of the land is open to public recreation.

A mix of lower commodity prices, including impacts from weather, caused some decreased revenue from the natural resources department’s agricultural sector, which produced about $28.1 million in revenue, Trust Land Division Administrator Shawn Thomas told the board.

And with lower demand from brewers, the market for malt barley fell significantly while weather left a large portion of the sugar beet crop in the ground. Cattle prices fared better, the report said.

Oil and gas and coal royalties produced about $22.4 million. The agency has not experienced significant new oil and gas leasing and those markets are expected to remain volatile, Thomas said.

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