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Montana wheat farmers say prices could drive up grocery bills

By Eric Turcio, Reporter, eturcio@ktvm.com
Published On: Mar 13 2013 06:52:08 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2013 09:10:45 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Montana wheat farmers are preparing to plant next week. They say the wheat will be harvested toward the end of summer, but they are already planning months ahead and keeping a close eye on prices.

NBC Montana wanted to know how higher wheat prices could affect your grocery bill. We spoke with the manager of Columbia Grains in Belgrade, Matthew Franks. Franks told us the wheat market has been up and down over the years.

"Historically, these are high prices as opposed to what people are used to 20 or 30 years ago," said Franks.

Farmers say that could make everything from a loaf of bread to a box of cereal more expensive.

Franks said production costs are hurting farmers.

"Just the fuel to put it in the ground, and grow it and bring it to me costs a fortune," he said.

We headed to Three Forks and talked with Wheat Montana farmer Ben Peterson. He told NBC Montana their 35-percent crop loss was due to lack of rain.

"Really we sell water. If we don't have the rain we don't have the crops. Last year was a pretty slim year," explained Peterson.

Farmers at Wheat Montana say last season they produced 30 bushels of wheat, and one bushel can cost up to $7. Farmers this season are hoping for a lot of rain and to produce double the bushels.

"We would like to see it a lot more. There were years we cut up to 60 bushels of dry land wheat," said Peterson.

Farmers believe this year, the average price of a bushel of wheat could go up by $1.50, likely pushing your grocery bill higher too.