U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Agricultural Research January 2002


In the world of finance, bank failures tend to get press coverage. But there’s another kind of bank failure that affects the American West: Missouri River bank failures in eastern Montana involve lost soil—not dollars—but still hurt farmers financially.

Just ask Boone Whitmer, who farms 3,000 acres of wheat and alfalfa near Wolf Point. Like most farmers bordering the Missouri River downstream from the Fort Peck dam, he places irrigation pumps along the banks to get water for his crops. But the shifting sand bed of the river can clog pumps with sediment and hit growers like him hard.

“In the winter, you can have a working pump site, but by spring it’s silted,” he says. “Replacing a pump site is bad news for anybody. It cost me $20,000.”