Montana and India Spar Over Seizure of Pulse Crops
The state of Montana and the country of India are having a trade dispute over pulse crops, a category that includes peas and lentils. Montana produces more pulse crops than any other state, and India is its largest export market. Montana Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Kim Falcon says the problem started when India discovered that its harvest was not going to be as big as expected, and then began seizing pulse crops warehoused throughout the country.
"What happened is that buyers and warehouse buyers of pulse from Montana suddenly stopped buying, and the even turned ships away because they said it certainly wasn't worth it to participate in the market right now if the government was just going to seize their product," Falcon said.
Pulse crops are a major source of protein in India and the country had hoped that by seizing the stored crops it could stave off price gouging and hoarding, but Montana officials says the country's actions have backfired because it means less pulse crops will make it to shore.
"We would like to ship a couple hundred thousand tons to India, but when that market stops, everything backs up," Falcon said. "The price for Montana pulse growers has been very attractive right now, especially in lentils, and we certainly don't want to have to store them for very long."
Montana’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to India on the issue. Montana growers are worried that India’s actions may cause a big price decline in one of Montana’s most important crops.