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I commend Sen. Pat Flowers for his “Soil Health Subcommittee Bill,” Senate Bill 180. This bill will establish a task force that will make recommendations for a Montana soil health program aimed at increasing farmer and rancher profitability, building a more resilient agriculture sector, and helping everyday producers like myself and my neighbors here in Paradise Valley.

I have spent the last 40 years as a rancher working to grow grass better. A decade ago, attending the Ranching for Profit School ignited my curiosity in understanding how biology could be used to improve the bottom line in agriculture. Now, I work on this full time with our family business, Regenerative Land Solutions.

I am perplexed that a holistic soil health-based approach to agriculture hasn’t become more widespread. On my place in Tom Miner Basin, I was able to change the soil microbial community to address acidity issues and decrease water usage by 40%. Productivity in my alfalfa grass pasture is better than ever, even in exceptionally dry years like 2020.

These changes are possible when we see our operations as one system, including what’s underground. I would love to help anyone start this journey. I urge us all to contact our state representatives to pass Flowers’ bill and make sure we leave our state’s agricultural land better than we found it.

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Vern Smith

Emigrant