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Huckleberry freedom?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

The Montana Department of Agriculture tried to get people to report their huckleberry patches in 2007. After 16 years of failed attempts, the department is looking to undo its own requirement.

The House Agriculture Committee heard House Bill 94 on Tuesday. This bill proposes that the rarely-used huckleberry regulations are discarded. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Paul Green, R-Hardin, at the request of the Department of Agriculture.

According to the previous law, the Department of Agriculture required residents to register where they picked huckleberries. The information remains confidential except for when the department responded to general inquiries about whether an area was listed for huckleberries.

As no one shared the location of their huckleberry patches, Department of Agriculture and Lt. Gov. Kristin Juras said the rule was unnecessary and never used. Additionally, there are no employees attached to enforcing the rule and no mechanisms to fine people for noncompliance.

No one testified against House Bill 94 on Tuesday.

The department requested to repeal the rule entirely, but there are options to amend it such as moving the huckleberry reporting out from under the control of the agricultural marketing department, according to Cort Jensen, lobbyist for the Department of Agriculture.

The committee did not immediately vote on the bill.

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