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Grain producers look back on devastating harvest season

Published On: Sep 10 2013 10:24:12 PM MDT   Updated On: Sep 10 2013 11:06:16 PM MDT

Harvest season is wrapping up across Montana, and Gallatin Valley farmers say it is the worst they have seen in decades. They say an August hail storm is to blame. NBC Montana has covered that storm and it's after effects. It did around $50 million in damage to crops alone.

Farming is a field that lends itself to ups and downs. As we found out Tuesday, most producers in the Gallatin Valley say it was a devastating year. Matt Franks is the local elevator manager for Columbia Grain in Belgrade.

"We have slowed quite a bit on our sales because the inbounds are not coming in," said Franks.

He showed us around Columbia Grain so we could get a closer look at how they fill the cars. Franks tells us on a good year they can fill 50 to 60 cars. However this harvest season it was closer to 30.

We also spoke to farmers like Bob Hofman of Manhattan. In his 40 years of farming he says he has never seen a storm like the one that blew through the valley in August.

"I drove up to the first field and thought, holy cow this is worse than I thought," said Hofman.

Hofman breaks down just what this hail storm did to his crops.

"With everything there could be $10,000 come in but there was probably about $120,000 just in crops," said Hofman.                                                                                                                 

In terms of the bottom line, he tells me he expects to make only $10,000 instead of $200,000. That is a profit that just 5 percent of normal. But both the farmers and grain sellers tell me sometimes mother nature takes the wheel, and you just have to deal with it.

"You have to ride out the storm and look forward to next year," said Franks.

"Yeah, not much you can do about it," said Hofman.