How Far Does Montana Grain Travel from the Farm?


Over the past several months, Kate Fuller and I conducted a survey of Montana’s grain farmers to assess their production and marketing decisions. The survey effort was generously supported by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee and was intended to provide Montana’s grain industry with a better understanding of the marketing landscape.

One of the questions we asked was about the distance that Montana grain farmers travel to deliver their grain to an elevator. Delivery distance studies have been conducted in surrounding states, including North Dakota and Washington, but no similar information exists for Montana. Understanding transportation patterns can help inform the extent to which delivery costs could affect farm business marketing profitability when fuel costs change.

The table below shows the proportion of surveyed producers that delivered across four different distance ranges. The first column shows the overall average from the responses, and the second column presents averages that are weighted by how much wheat was planted in the county of the respondent. Regardless of how the data are presented, the results of the survey indicate that the majority of Montana’s producers drive their grain between 11-50 miles to an elevator. Additionally, approximately one-fifth of the producers deliver grain over 50 miles.

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