United Financial Corp. has terminated its purchase of another Montana banking company, blaming low prices for farm products.

United, based in Great Falls, announced in April that it had agreed to buy Chouteau County Bancshares of Fort Benton for an undisclosed sum. The deal received approval from the Federal Reserve in August and was scheduled to close this quarter.

But United said in a news release late Monday that the deal has been called off "as a result of the depressed agricultural economy and other market conditions." John M. Morrison, chairman and chief executive officer, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Chouteau County Bancshares has $64 million of assets and is the parent of First State Bank of Fort Benton, which has one office.

United, which owns Heritage Bank and Heritage State Bank, has $205 million of assets and 13 branches in Montana. That includes those of the failed Q Bank in Fort Benton, which Heritage bought in August from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for $1.3 million.

Low prices have plagued Montana farmers for much of the year. In August the average price of wheat fell to $2.91 a bushel, the lowest since 1991, and sheep prices were down 30% from a year earlier.

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