Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to sponsor Cattlemen’s Conference attendee

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the structure of the U.S. cattle industry and gain insight into the legislative process that guides our business. Montana Stockgrowers Foundation will send one Montana delegate on this year’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC), held May 29 – June 7, 2019. Applications, due March 15, are available at mtbeef.org.

The Young Cattlemen’s Conference is an opportunity for cattlemen and cattlewomen between the ages of 25 and 50 to visit segments of the beef industry in other parts of our nation with young ranchers from other states. Facilitated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), participants will travel with national attendees to Denver, Chicago and Washington D.C., visiting OSI, Inc, McDonald’s Global Headquarters, and Capitol Hill.

The primary objective is to develop leadership qualities in young cattlewomen and cattlemen and expose them to all aspects of the beef industry. The tour helps these young leaders understand all areas of our industry ranging from industry structure to issues management, from production research to marketing.

The Montana Stockgrowers Foundation will ensure funding for one participant for the full cost of the tour along with travel expenses. Remaining expenses are the responsibility of the participant, who will be chosen from those who apply. Participants must be a member of Montana Stockgrowers Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

To learn more about the Young Cattlemen’s Conference and to complete an application, visit the MSGA website, mtbeef.org/young-cattlemens-conference. All applications must be complete and postmarked or received by March 15, 2019. Please mail or fax to MSGF at the following address: Montana Stockgrowers Foundation | Attn: YCC, 420 N. California St.  Helena, MT  59601.

If you have any questions about the application process or YCC trip, please call the MSGA Office at (406) 442-3420 or e-mail kori@mtbeef.org.

Checkoff-Funded Beef Quality Assurance Program’s Online Certification Option Reaches Major Milestone

More than 50,000 cattle producers have been certified through the Beef Quality Assurance program’s new online learning system since it was first offered in February 2017. Throughout the country hundreds of thousands have now become BQA-certified through in-person and online training, with an estimated 80 percent of the U.S. fed beef supply now touched by BQA-certified operations.

                The beef checkoff-funded BQA program is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how commonsense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.

                Online BQA training provides 24/7 access to the program through a series of videos and animation. While in-person training is still available through numerous sessions conducted by in-state BQA coordinators throughout the country, online certification provides a chance for certification at any time. Three courses are available (cow/calf, stocker/backgrounder and feedyard) to deliver a program that most closely aligns with the individual’s operation. The certifications are also available in Spanish.

“Beef producers recognize that quality is everyone’s responsibility, but many don’t have the opportunity to attend in-person training,” according to Bob Smith, DVM, chair of the BQA Advisory Board. “These producers still want to assure that practices on their operations are conducted under BQA-qualified standards. While in-person training provides important knowledge and useful cattle handling and husbandry skills, the online BQA program is a valuable option that can deliver critical information and training anytime and anywhere.”

For information on completing online BQA training, go to https://www.bqa.org/certification. For more information on the BQA program, contact DeCoite at cdecoite@beef.org.

Source: NCBA Press Release

2019 Montana Hunter Advancement Program Accepting Applications

A Program of One Montana and Common Ground
www.montanamasterhunter.com

The Montana Hunter Advancement Program (MHAP) is now accepting applications for our 2019 courses from qualified hunters. In 2018, the MHAP successfully graduated 25 certified hunters who were able to hunt on 13 ranches this past fall. Building from last year’s success, we are offering three courses in 2019 in Billings, Bozeman and Missoula.

The Montana Hunter Advancement Program is a 50-hour course which generally takes place over a six-week period. The program is landowner-driven and is supported by major landowner associations and major conservation nonprofit organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone & Crockett Club, Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Grain Growers Association. This deep partnership with Montana’s landowner community is what makes our program unique. This program offers applicants skills mastery combined with agriculture, conservation and stewardship education, and specialized ballistics and marksmanship training. Instructors include ranchers, farmers, landowners, university faculty, professional shooting instructors, private land wildlife managers, wildlife biologists, first aid personnel, as well as backcountry survival and equipment experts. Each curriculum element includes either written, oral or field tests that assess student competence.

The cost of the program is $200 per participant and need-based scholarships are available upon request. Program fees partially off-set facility use fees and other similar costs. Each participant has the opportunity to become a certified “Master Hunter”, receiving a Montana Master Hunter Certificate upon successful completion of the course that is valid for five years. Certificate renewal will be available through additional in-person and online coursework, and testing.

The class schedules are as follows, and more detail is provided on our website:

Missoula: one evening each week on successive weeks beginning in March 2019 and one Saturday to be scheduled during April 2019.

Bozeman: five successive Saturdays beginning the first week of April 2019.

Billings: five successive Saturdays beginning the first week of May 2019.

All classes will attend an end of session two-day rendezvous in June where shooting instruction and qualification will occur along with field work with OnX Maps and GPS.

2018-2019 Sponsors
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sitka, Wild Sheep Foundation, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, Schnee’s, Mystery Ranch, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Boone & Crockett Club, 2% for Conservation, Brickhouse Creative, Huntable, Access Granted, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Mule Deer Foundation, Montana Grain Growers, Montana Stockgrowers, Robert Miller

Common Ground Members
Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Bowhunters Association, Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Western Landowners Alliance, Montana Land Reliance, and several individual outfitters, sportsmen, and ranchers.

CSKT Negotiated Water Rights Compact – Good for Montana Agriculture

By Jay Bodner, John Youngberg, and Mike Murphy

The success of Montana’s agriculture industry is dependent upon water and water right certainty. It is easily the single most important resource for people across Montana, which is why ratification of the negotiated Montana CSKT Water Compact is critical.

Contrary to what compact opponents are saying the negotiated CSKT Compact provides water right certainty, protects Montana’s water users, and ensures a reliable source of water. When the Flathead Reservation was established water rights were reserved through a federal treaty. The federally reserved water rights of the Tribe must, by law, be defined and quantified either through a negotiated agreement or through litigation in the Montana Water Court. The negotiated CSKT Water Compact defines the water rights and settles the legal claims of the CSKT, preventing long term costly litigation and uncertainty.

Recently, Compact opponents have proposed to replace the long-negotiated CSKT Water Compact that was developed through extensive public participation with a quickly crafted proposal that was developed without general public participation.  Their proposal ignores the fact that a negotiated settlement requires acceptance and approval by all parties.

The CSKT Water Compact, which was passed with bi-partisan support in the Montana State Legislature, after many years of negotiation, is currently awaiting Congressional ratification. The compact provides protection for all existing water rights, prevents decades of expensive litigation, and provides certainty to water users across our state. Comparatively, the proposal recently developed by those who oppose the CSKT Compact was constructed without Tribal, State, and Federal parties at the table and without general public comment. If this proposal were to upend the existing negotiated agreement it would most certainly open the floodgates to possibly decades of expensive litigation—putting the water rights of farmers, ranchers, and water users across our state, at risk.

We respectfully encourage our Congressional delegation to carefully consider the extensive benefits that implementing the long-negotiated Montana CSKT Water Compact will have for Montana’s agriculture industry and move Compact ratification forward, while soundly rejecting the proposal from Compact opponents that was quickly developed without Tribal, State, Federal, or general public participation.

Mike Murphy is the Executive Director of the Montana Water Resources Association.

John Youngberg is the Executive Director of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

Jay Bodner is the Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

From NRCS: Early Winter Snowfall Hit or Miss Across the Treasure State

After last winter’s record-setting snowfall, the mountains across the state of Montana have received sporadic snowfall so far this year, leaving some river basins near normal for snowpack, while others are below normal on January 1. Early season snowfall has favored regions along the Continental Divide in western and south-central Montana so far this winter, and this is where the highest snowpack percentages can be found.

“What’s been unique about this winter so far is that the snowpack in these regions would be below normal for this date if it weren’t for the storm that dropped significant totals during the last week of October into early November,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, hydrologist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Many areas that were overlooked by the early November weather remain below normal for snowpack at this time, except for some regions of western Montana along the Idaho border which received heavy snowfall during the latter half of December.”

The month of December was also well above average across the state with regards to temperatures, aside from a cold arctic air during the first week of the month. Monthly temperature departures were 3-7 degrees above average in northwest and north-central Montana and 1-3 degrees above average in southwest and south-central Montana.

“After a long and hard winter of shoveling and shivering last year, it’s been a mild winter so far this year,” Zukiewicz said. “While that’s nice in some ways, it’s the cold snowy weather during winter and spring that assures our water supply when it warms up in the summer.”

Long-term weather forecasts by the National Weather Service combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and, when appropriate, ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation). “Forecasts issued for the month of January aren’t painting a pretty picture of things to come and are calling for above average temperatures and below average precipitation,” he said.

Currently ENSO-neutral conditions are present, but El Nino is expected to form and continue through the Northern Hemisphere during winter of 2018/2019 (~90% chance) and through spring (~60% chance). “It should be noted that a single climate index to predict future snowfall before runoff isn’t always the best idea, as other climate conditions such as the Artic Oscillation can impact week to week weather patterns,” Zukiewicz said. “That being said, it would still be wise to keep this in mind as we get further into winter, as it will certainly play some role in the weather patterns over the coming months.”

Reservoir storage across the state is above average in many basins due to abundant runoff last spring and summer. Zukiewicz said this could prove to be important should the weather take a turn to the dry and warm side through the rest of winter. The NRCS Montana Snow Survey will issue its next Snowpack and Water Supply Outlook on February 1.

Monthly Water Supply Outlook Reports can be found at the website below after the fifth business day of the month:
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/mt/snow/waterproducts/basin/

Source: NRCS Press Release

mdol-rule-change

Rangeland drought resilience study

by Megan Van Emon, MSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

Although the majority of the state has had ample rain this year, it’s good to be prepared when a drought does occur.  Drought preparedness is especially crucial when multi-year droughts occur.  I am currently working with several scientists on a drought resilience study: Identifying mechanisms of rangeland drought resilience: management strategies for sustainable ecosystem health.

Key Personnel

  • Sally Koerner, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina – Greensboro
  • Lauren Porensky, Ecologist, USDA-ARS Rangeland Resources & Systems Research, Fort Collins, CO
  • Kevin Wilcox, Ecologist, USDA-ARS Rangeland Resources & Systems Research, Fort Collins, CO
  • Kim La Pierre, Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
  • Kurt Reinhart, Ecologist, USDA-ARS Range, and Livestock Research, Miles City, MT
  • Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist/Assistant Professor, Montana State University

 

Long-Term Goals

  1. Examine the resilience of rangeland function under various magnitudes of drought
  2. Assess the impacts of realistic grazing strategies on long-term sustainability and resilience of rangeland function, both during and after extreme droughts
  3. Provide relevant information and tools to land managers to optimize management strategies focused on long-term forage quantity and quality after extreme droughts

 

Supporting Objectives

  1. Identify drought-driven “tipping points”, where forage quantity and quality suffer disproportionately large declines
  2. Quantify drought impacts on plant community structure and soil properties
  3. Explore the direct and indirect mechanisms controlling forage quality and quantity responses to drought
  4. Assess rancher philosophies concerning grazing during and after multi-year droughts
  5. Examine how realistic grazing strategies during/after drought effect plant community structure, soil abiotic and biotic properties, and forage quality and quantity
  6. Promote stakeholder implementation of research findings through producer-based meetings, extension bulletins, local field days, and non-traditional web-based learning as well as the development of an online management tool

 

Research Sites

  1. Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT
  2. Thunder Basin National Grassland, Northeastern WY

 

Key Activities

  • Drought manipulation – Assess ecosystem response to differing drought intensities
    • Rainfall reduction gradient – 5 levels
      • Open for discussion
    • Rainfall reduction will be based on the current year’s precipitation
    • Rainout shelters will be in place from April to September
    • Measure impact of a reduction of spring moisture on mixed-grass prairie ecosystem
  • Grazing manipulation – Evaluate differing grazing rest rotations during drought on the ecosystem
    • Grazing rotations – 3 levels – We want your input
      • Example: graze annually (control), do not graze in year two of drought, do not graze in year one of recovery
    • Graze to moderate level
      • Open for discussion
    • Timing of grazing
      • Open for discussion
    • Field sampling – pre-drought, during drought, and during recovery
      • Forage quality and quantity
      • Soil abiotic factors
      • Soil microbial makeup
      • Plant species makeup
    • Management response to drought assessment
      • Assess rancher grazing strategies during and after a multi-year drought
      • Evaluate drought management tools used, drought management strategies, production information, preparedness for multi-year drought
      • Field days and meetings at each research site for demonstrations and assessment of the project
    • Stakeholder implementation of research findings
      • Provide research findings to develop new and update existing grazing strategies during multi-year droughts
      • Conduct producer-based meetings to evaluate project progress and discuss current results
      • Develop a web-based tool for aiding in drought management strategy development

 

Several factors will be determined based on survey feedback, including the rainfall reduction gradient, grazing intensity, and timing of grazing.  We are asking for Montana and Wyoming beef cattle producers to complete the Rangeland Drought Resilience Survey. The survey information includes how grazing and cattle management strategies were altered during drought, how management strategies may be altered in a single or multi-year drought, and feedback on the study design to determine the impacts of drought severity and length on rangeland response.

 

 

USDA Launches Interactive Data Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis

New Community Assessment Tool Empowers Rural Leaders to Make Data-Driven Decisions to Build Resilient Communities

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural America in addressing this monumental challenge,” Hazlett said. “Local leaders in small towns across our country need access to user-friendly and relevant data to help them build grassroots solutions for prevention, treatment and recovery.”

The opioid misuse Community Assessment Tool enables users to overlay substance misuse data against socioeconomic, census and other public information. This data will help leaders, researchers and policymakers assess what actions will be most effective in addressing the opioid crisis at the local level.

The Community Assessment Tool is free and available to the public. It can be accessed on USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse Webpageor at opioidmisusetool.norc.org.

USDA’s launch of the Community Assessment Tool closely follows President Trump’s declaration of October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Approximately 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017; 49,000 of those deaths involved an opioid. Many of these deaths have been fueled by the misuse of prescription pain medications. The severity of the current opioid misuse crisis requires immediate action.

Rural Development partnered with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC at the University of Chicago to create the Community Assessment Tool. NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business and policy decisions. Today, government, corporate and nonprofit organizations around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. The Walsh Center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural providers and residents, including health care quality and public health systems.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

 

Source: USDA

Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame announces 2018 inductions

Today the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (MCHF & WHC) announced the eleventh class of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. The inductees were chosen from a field of candidates nominated by the general public. Inductees are honored for their notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana.

“Our volunteer trustees around Montana vote on nominations that come from the district in which they reside,” said Bill Galt, MCHF & WHC President. “This process gives the local communities a strong voice in who will represent them in the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their part of the state and represent Montana’s authentic heritage for future generations.”

The MCHF & WHC board of directors has designated 12 trustee districts across the state from which up to 20 trustees may be appointed. Nomination criteria established by the board for the Class of 2018 inductions allowed the election of one Living Inductee and one Legacy Inductee from each of the 12 districts.

The 2018 inductees into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame are:

  • District 1 (Daniels, Phillips, Roosevelt, Sheridan, & Valley Counties): Living Award – Raymond & Echo Garberg, Whitetail. Legacy Award – Scobey Saddle Club, Scobey.
  • District 2 (Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Prairie, Richland, & Wibaux Counties): Living Award – Michael Earl “Mike” Pierson, Brusett. Legacy Award – Harvey L. Rattey, Glendive.
  • District 3 (Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Rosebud, & Treasure Counties): Living Award – Wade Wayne Berry, Miles City. Legacy Award – Paul T. Ringling, Miles City.
  • District 4 (Blaine, Chouteau, Hill, & Liberty Counties): Living Award – Joseph Louis “Joey” Malsam, Chinook. Legacy Award – Marion Laureen (Kearful) Vercruyssen, Chinook.
  • District 5 (Cascade, Glacier, Pondera, Teton, & Toole Counties): Living Award – Clarence Allan & Mary Ann Pursley, Great Falls. Legacy Award – Francis X. Guardipee (Ah koo in slak mi) Big Lodge Pole, Browning.
  • District 6 (Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Musselshell, Petroleum, & Wheatland Counties): Living Award – Jordan Family of Missouri River Breaks Country, Roy. Legacy Award – Ann (McNally) “Annie” Fergus, Geyser.
  • District 7 (Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, & Yellowstone Counties): Living Award – Walter Lee “Walt” Secrest, Hardin. Legacy Award – Ignatius Daniel “I.D.” O’Donnell, Billings.
  • District 8 (Broadwater, Jefferson, & Lewis and Clark Counties): Living Award – Rodger & Sheila (Johnson) Nordahl, Helena. Legacy Award – John R. Quigley – Frontier Town, Helena.
  • District 9 (Gallatin, Meagher, & Park Counties): Living Award – Lester “Bud” Griffith, Gallatin Gateway. Legacy Award – Jack & Louise Galt, Martinsdale.
  • District 10 (Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, & Sanders Counties): Living Award – Carl V. Moss, Polson. Legacy Award – Asa Clayton “A.C.” Brooks, Saint Ignatius.
  • District 11 (Mineral, Missoula, & Ravalli Counties): Living Award – Louis Woodrow “Louie” Vero, Greenough. Legacy Award – Major John Owen, Stevensville.
  • District 12 (Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Granite, Madison, & Powell Counties): Living Award – Earl Ben Stucky, Avon. Legacy Award – John Raphael Quigley, Sr., Elliston.

The MCHF & WHC will honor these inductees during the annual Circle the Wagons gathering February 8-9, 2019, in Great Falls at the Best Western Heritage Inn. More information on this event will come later in the year.

Full biographies for past inductees are available on the MCHF & WHC’s website, http://www.montanacowboyfame.org. This year’s inductees will be added to the website soon.

NRCS Sets Program Funding Application Cutoff for October 19

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set a Oct. 19, 2018, application cutoff for agricultural operators to be considered for 2019 conservation program funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

NRCS provides funding and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that provide environmental benefits to help sustain agricultural operations. Conservation program participation is voluntary and helps private landowners and operators defray the costs of installing conservation practices.

NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for 2019 funding consideration must be submitted by Oct. 19, 2018. Applications made after the Oct. 19 cutoff will be considered in the next funding cycle. Additional information is available on the Montana NRCS website at www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov under the Programs tab or you can contact your local NRCS service center.

Source: NRCS Press Release