India eases rules on pulse crops

Montana’s congressional delegation on Tuesday said that India has reversed its regulatory restrictions on pulse crop stock limits – clearing the way for exports from Montana to that country to resume.

A joint news statement from GOP Sen. Steve Daines, Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke states that India’s policy reversal follows a letter last week from the Treasure State delegation urging issues be resolved.

A Great Falls-based businessman who co-owns a leading brokerage house for the sale of pulse crops in Montana and North Dakota said he was happy with the news.

On Oct. 18, India’s central government reduced the allowable amount of pulse crops that can be stored in the country before being sold on the market. The move threatened U.S. pulse exports to India and the future of more than 200,000 metric tons of pulses now being held at Indian ports, officials said.

“The Indian government’s reversal of these regulatory restrictions is welcome news for Montana pulse farmers whose livelihoods depend on reliable access to international markets,” Daines stated.

Justin Flaten of J.M. Grain of Great Falls agreed and thanked the congressional delegation.

“It’s good news for the short-term scare that we had … and it’s a bullish tone for peas, lentils and chickpeas for Montana.”

He said Montana was No. 1 in the country for pulse crops, which includes lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and legumes.

Montanans reportedly planted more than 680,000 acres of pulses in 2014, an increase of 38 percent from the previous year. In 2013, Montana’s pulse crops were valued at $140 million.

Jeff Van Pevenage, senior vice president of Columbia Grain, one of the largest grain-trading companies in the Pacific Northwest, also thanked the Montana delegation.

“Several of our buyers commented that inquiries placed upon the Indian government by the Montana congressional delegation definitely helped to bring about a swifter decision,” he said. “India needs product, and disruptions to market flow just add volatility to our markets. Partnerships from the commercial side to our government help solve this issue for our farmers and for our markets.”

Tester, reportedly the Senate’s only working farmer, said the announcement was good news for the state’s pulse growers who depend on fair trade opportunities around the world.

“… and now Montana farmers have the predictability they need to continue to produce the crops that America and the world need.”

Zinke said he was happy to work with his colleagues to increase the exports of pulse crops to Indian markets.

“Agriculture is our biggest industry, and we are the largest pulse producer in the nation,” he said. “I’m proud to fight for fair trade practices that grow our industry and the thousands of jobs it supports.”