Montana Honey Producers Could Collect Sweet Back Payments

by Edward O'Brien

A new law signed this week means Montana honey producers could collect millions of dollars in back payments.

In the late 90s, Chinese producers dumped honey into the United States at far below domestic market rates. Under the law signed this week, domestic producers can now get payments from companies that insured those Chinese honey shipments.

American honey producers are owed about $100 million in back payments. The law, supported by Senator Jon Tester, requires Customs and Border Protection to quickly collect that money. Mark Jensen of Power, Montana’s Smoot Honey estimates there are roughly 60 commercial beekeepers in Montana:

“The bigger a beekeeper you are in theory, the bigger collection that you’ll receive, so it varies from about $3,000 up to $90,000 as far as we’re concerned – that’s what we’ve seen over the past 10 or so years. It really varies as to how much customs is able to collect in a given fiscal year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Montana was the nation’s second largest honey producer in 2014, producing nearly 15 million pounds of honey.