BOZEMAN—The Montana Farm Bureau has submitted a letter to U.S. House of Representatives leadership urging them to take up the Fort Belknap Indian Community (FBIC) Water Settlement Act of 2024 (S.1987). 

“The Milk River Project in north central Montana is aptly referred to as the “Lifeline of the Highline” because it provides water to over 120,000 acres of productive farmland, several towns, and two tribes,” said MFBF President Cyndi Johnson in her letter to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries. “Just over one week ago, a portion of the Milk River Project near Babb, Montana, suffered a disastrous failure, flooding the nearby community and threatening the economic certainty of a large portion of our state.  

Johnson explained that the FBIC provides the assistance to restore St. Mary’s Canal that MFBF members have been asking for and negotiating about for more than 20 years. This legislation will provide $275 million for Milk River Project infrastructure repairs and to restore the St. Mary’s Canal. 

“Without the essential repairs S. 1987 will provide to the Milk River Project, a large portion of our state will literally dry up and it’s not just our state that will suffer,” said Johnson, adding, “According to the Milk River Joint Board of Control, this project and the agriculture it supports raise enough food to feed 1 million people.”  

The Conrad wheat farmer explained, “Our members, these rural communities, and our state will be put in great jeopardy if this project is not repaired quickly and completely. Please act promptly on the Fort Belknap Indian Community Water Settlement Act of 2024.”