Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit membership organization, has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. Our mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator

From USDA: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer-focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer-focused mission area.”

Richard Fordyce most recently served as State Executive Director for FSA in Missouri. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Fordyce served as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017. In 2015, Fordyce was awarded the Missouri Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Alumnus of the Year. He and his wife, Renee, have two children and grow soybeans, corn and beef cattle on the family farm.

State Hail Insurance Staff to Hold Meetings Throughout Montana

While we are currently dealing with the fits and starts of springtime in Montana, it’s important to remember that hail season is right around the corner. Staff from the Montana Hail Insurance program will soon be visiting communities throughout Montana to sell policies and educate producers on the program.

Staff will be holding meetings in the following areas:

  • Conrad, 5/29/2018, 10:00 am-12:00 pm: Pondera County Courthouse
  • Lewistown, 5/29/2018, 5:00 pm-7:00 pm: Yogo Inn
  • Circle, 5/30/2018, 11:00 am-1:00 pm: McCone County Fairgrounds

Producers can insure crops against hail damage at the maximum coverage rate of $75 per acre for dryland and $114 for irrigated land. Rates charged are a percentage of the insured amount and vary by county depending on the hail loss history of an area. A detailed list of rates by county and crop can be found on the program’s website.

An application for insurance and more details about payment options has been mailed to producers who previously purchased state hail insurance. For new policy applicants, information and applications are also available at www.hail.mt.gov. Completed forms can be emailed, mailed or faxed to the department or used as a reference when you contact the office by phone.

Contact Information:

Montana State Hail Insurance Program

P.O. Box 200201

Helena, MT 59620

Phone: (406) 444-5429

Email: agrhail@mt.gov

Toll Free: 1 (844) 515-1571

Fax: (406) 444-9422

 

The Montana State Hail Insurance program was created at the request of producers in 1917 to provide basic hail insurance coverage on any crop grown in Montana. The program is directed by a five-member board consisting of the department director, state insurance commissioner, and three producers.

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the department, visit agr.mt.gov.

Source: Montana Department of Agriculture.

Record to well-above normal snowpack primed to melt across the state of Montana.

FROM NRCS:  After a winter and spring that dropped seemingly non-stop snowfall across most of Montana, spring runoff is finally here. April started just like many of the other months so far this snow season, with abundant precipitation falling and continuing to build the mountain snowpack, according to snow survey data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Some areas in southwest Montana set new records for April precipitation (Gallatin and Madison valleys), and almost all areas except the Rocky Mountain Front and Hi-Line received near to above normal precipitation. “The crazy fact about this April was that average to well-above average precipitation fell during the first 18 days of the month; the latter half of the month was dominated by high pressure with abundant sunshine and well-above-average temperatures,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana.

Early April precipitation only continued to add to a snowpack that was well-above normal across the state, and the snowpack was record-setting in the Upper Clark Fork, Blackfoot and Clark’s Fork (Yellowstone) River basins. Peak snow water equivalent in these basins exceeded prior record years of 1975, 1997 and 2011, and occurred during the third week of the month. Many SNOTEL sites and snowcourses in these basins remain record for May 1 even though melt has already started at low to mid-elevations.

“Snowpack percentages are incredibly high for this date across the state, and in almost all river basins,” Zukiewicz said. “At some point in the spring, I stopped getting excited by the continued snowfall, and started worrying about it.”

The NRCS forecasts long-duration streamflows for water users across the state, and the May 1 – July 31 forecasts reflect the well-above normal snowpack across the state and are above to well-above average in almost all river basins. Even though the agency forecasts long-term volumes, it works closely with cooperators in the National Weather Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to provide information to them on current snowpack conditions and forecasted volumes in order to manage reservoirs and issue information to the public regarding the coming runoff.

Water managers in the state have been actively managing reservoirs in anticipation of the well-above-average runoff in some basins, and reservoirs in some systems had been dropped to near historic levels before runoff began in mid-to-late April. Since late January the Bureau of Reclamation has dropped Hungry Horse Reservoir in the Flathead River basin nearly 70 feet, and in the Sun River basin, Gibson Reservoir was dropped to close to a record low on April 1.

“Active management in the river systems with reservoirs this year has been great to see with the huge snowpack we have, but water users on non-controlled streams and rivers will be at the mercy of the weather this year with regards to snowmelt runoff,” Zukiewicz said.

Active snowmelt runoff began mid-month across the state, with low-elevation melt causing substantial increases in river and stream flows. “In many cases, the large increases in flows were from elevations below what we measure with our current monitoring network,” he said. “Valley and plains snow this year was abundant due to the below normal temperatures. When it and the low elevation mountain snowpack started to melt, it resulted in quick increases in flows in many rivers and streams.” Snowpack remains well-above normal for this date at almost all water yielding elevations, meaning that the bulk of the snow water remains to enter the rivers and streams.

The official National Weather Service flood potential forecasts across the state indicate there is significant potential for flooding along some rivers and streams this spring and summer, something that is already occurring. “Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see how fast the snowpack comes out this year, but the potential is there for big flows to occur with the amount of snow still left in the mountains,” Zukiewicz said. “A long period of sunny days with above average temperatures or a rain-on-snow event would be a game changer. A close eye should be kept on the weather forecasts this spring and summer, especially if you live in a low-lying area near a river or stream.”

Current snowpack conditions and long-term streamflow forecasts can be found in this month’s NRCS Montana Water Supply Outlook Report, which can be found at the website below after the 5th business day of the month:

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/mt/snow/waterproducts/basin/

 

Secretaries Perdue and Zinke Join Forces to Combat 2018 Wildfire Season

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today hosted a fire briefing for Members of Congress at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to hear the forecast for this year’s wildfire season. Following the meeting, the secretaries sent a memorandum to wildland fire leadership highlighting the importance of inter-departmental collaboration to increase firefighter, public, and community safety as the 2018 wildfire season approaches. The 2017 wildfire season was one of the most challenging years on record, stressing the need for the USDA and the Department of the Interior to work together in combating this year’s fires.

“As we begin this year’s fire season, we want to remind everyone that the protection of firefighters and public safety is the single highest priority in every fire management activity and decision that we make,” Perdue and Zinke said. “Last year we lost 14 wildland firefighters who sacrificed their own lives to protect the lives of others and that is something we hope to prevent this year.”

“Additionally, both Departments will continue to collaborate to ensure all firefighting assets are being used in an efficient and effective manner. It is essential that firefighters have the right tools, resources, and flexibility to allow them to do their jobs safely. As we explore opportunities to improve efficiencies, we will look to integrate technology, such as the use of unmanned aircraft systems, into our operations and capitalize on other advancements to promote firefighter safety, support planning, and protect communities.”

To view the memorandum in its entirety, please click here.

Nominations open for Environmental Stewardship Award

The Montana Environmental Stewardship committee has opened nominations for their 2019 award.

The Environmental Stewardship Award Program is an opportunity to honor and showcase ranchers in the state who go the extra mile in the conservation and stewardship of their natural resources. Ranchers can be nominated for the award before June 1 at www.mtbeef.org.

Sidney, Montana rancher Jim Steinbeisser chairs the state’s Environmental Stewardship Award Program committee. The committee consists of a team of ranchers and conservation organizations who are focused on showcasing how innovative stewardship and good ranching business go hand-in-hand. He says the award program is a place to start an open, honest dialogue in ranching communities and Montana cities about how ranchers care for their land and livestock.

“Ranchers, in general, are just humble people. We don’t want to brag or pat ourselves on the back, but that’s not what this award is about,” he said. “It’s about sharing the facts of environmental stewardship and the story behind why it matters so much to us. We know it’s important to our livelihoods that we reach out to our customers and show them what we do and how we do it, and to encourage our fellow ranchers to do the same.”

The award nomination process is an opportunity for county conservation districts, water districts, local livestock associations, wildlife organizations or other local and state agencies focused on conservation and multiple land use to recognize partnerships with ranchers who help them accomplish mutual goals. Any Montana Stockgrowers Association member who is working to leave the land better for the next generation would be an ideal candidate.

For more than 25 years, the Montana Stockgrowers Association has proudly sponsored and honored ranchers across the state with the program. Today, the program is sponsored in a partnership between the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, the Montana Beef Check-Off and the World Wildlife Fund.

“The Environmental Stewardship Program has now gone far beyond encouraging fellow ranchers to improve the management of our resources,” Steinbeisser said. “We’re focused on reaching out to our customers and consumers so we can share what we do on our ranches and how we manage our resources to provide safe, healthy, sustainable food.”

Nominations can be submitted online at bit.ly/2018ESAP before June 1. The winning ranch will then have the assistance of a professional writer and photographer to capture their ranch’s story – their family’s legacy of caring for the land and livestock – to represent Montana in the regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program. The winner will be recognized at the Montana Stockgrower’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings this December.

To learn more, visit mtbeef.org, contact Kori Anderson at kori@mtbeef.org or call (406) 442-3420.

Weak Calf Syndrome

Written by Dr. Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

Newborn calves that present weak calf syndrome are those that are not able or are slow to rise, stand, or nurse.  Calves born in this condition will often die within a few days after birth.  There may be several possible reasons for weak calf syndrome.  Factors that may cause weak calf syndrome are bad weather, selenium deficiency, poor nutrition during late gestation, dystocia, cow age, and other trauma to the calf.  Weak calves must be treated or helped immediately after birth to improve their chances of survival.

Due to the atypical winter and spring, we have experienced in Montana, this may be a leading factor in weak calf syndrome this calving season.  Extreme cold and snow conditions may have caused stress to cows during gestation, which directly impacts cow immunity.  The additional stress of temperature variability in the past couple of months may have also played a role in increasing the odds of weak calf syndrome.  Providing sheltered areas to minimize the impacts of the extreme conditions may help in reducing the incidence of weak calf syndrome.

Cow nutrition also plays a large role in weak calf syndrome.  If cows were maintained on a low plane of nutrition, this could cause an increase in the incidence of weak calf syndrome in your herd.  Cows consuming a low protein (less than 10% CP) diet during the last 60 days before calving have been shown to have a greater incidence of weak calves at birth.  Additionally, a low energy diet during the last 60 days prior to calving can also increase the occurrence of weak calves.  Therefore, providing a good quality diet in the last 60 days prior to calving is crucial to minimizing weak calf syndrome in your herd.

Dystocia and other trauma to the calf also have the potential to cause weak calf syndrome.  The stress of the trauma can negatively impact calf immunity.  The additional stress can cause the calf to become hypoxic (low oxygen levels), which may cause neonatal acidosis.  If neonatal acidosis occurs, calves that do suckle are unable to absorb the needed antibodies from the colostrum.  The lack of antibodies from the cow’s colostrum may lead to additional illness as the calves age.

Selenium deficiency causes white muscle disease.  If cows are selenium deficient during gestation, calves may be born with weak muscles, which includes a weak heart, which may lead to the death of the calf soon after birth.

Very old cows and first-calf heifers may be more likely to have weak calves.  Usually, nutrition is the main factor causing weak calf syndrome in these two age groups.  Heifers require additional nutrients because they are still growing when calving for the first time and older cows may have a harder time in maintaining the extra body weight needed for calving.

Calves should nurse within an hour after birth to absorb the needed maternal antibodies from colostrum.  If a calf is born weak, the calf will need help to suckle and may require additional help to keep warm.  If a calf is dehydrated at birth, electrolytes and warm fluids may be required to help the calf rehydrate.  Presenting weak calves to your veterinarian may aid in determining the underlying cause and a plan may be prepared to minimize the occurrence of weak calves in the future.

 

Dr. Megan Van Emon is the Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at Montana State University (MSU).

Perdue Announces Additional Hurricane and Wildfire Recovery Details

Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued this statement:

“Last year our nation experienced some of the most significant disasters we have seen in decades, some back-to-back, at the most critical time in their production year. While USDA has a suite of disaster programs as well as crop insurance available to help producers manage their risk, Congress felt it was important to provide extra assistance to our nation’s farms and ranches that were the hardest hit last year,” Secretary Perdue said. “At President Trump’s direction, our team is working as quickly as possible to make this new program available to farmers in need. Our aim is to provide excellent customer service, building on efforts which began the day the storm hit.”

Key Updates Include:

  • Hurricane Recovery: To be eligible a crop, tree, bush or vine must be located in a primary disaster county with either a Presidential declaration or a Secretarial designation due to a 2017 hurricane. Crops, trees, bushes or vines located in other counties may also be eligible if the producer provides documentation the loss was caused by a 2017 hurricane.
  • Wildfire Recovery: Any crop, tree, bush or vine, damaged by a 2017 wildfire is eligible.
  • Eligible Producers: Eligibility will be determined on an individual basis, using the level of insurance coverage purchased for 2017 for the total crop acres on the area for which the WHIP application is made. Eligible producers who certify to an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least 75 percent derived from farming or ranching, including other agriculture and forestry-based businesses during the tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015, will be eligible for a $900,000 payment limitation with verification. All other eligible producers requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a $125,000 payment limitation.
  • Crop Insurance Requirement: Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP. However, all producers opting to receive 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance at the 60% coverage level, or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) at the 60% buy up coverage level if crop insurance is not available. Coverage must be in place for the next two applicable crop years to meet program requirements.
  • Acreage Reporting Requirements: In addition, for the applicable crop years, all producers are required to file an acreage report and report production (if applicable).
  • Payment Formula: FSA will calculate WHIP payments with this formula:

    Payment = Expected Value of the Crop x WHIP Factor – Value of Crop Harvested – Insurance Indemnity

    The WHIP factor ranges from 65 percent to 95 percent. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2017 will receive a 65 percent WHIP Factor. Insured producers, or producers who had NAP, will receive between 70 percent and 95 percent WHIP Factors; those purchasing higher levels of coverage will receive higher WHIP Factors.

Other USDA Disaster Assistance:

Drought, wildfires and other disasters continue to impact farmers and ranchers, and 2017 WHIP is just one of many programs available through USDA to help with recovery. From crop insurance to on-the-ground rehabilitation programs like the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA is here to help. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provided funding for ECP and the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The Act also provided amendments to make programs like the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program, Tree Assistance Program and Livestock Indemnity Program even more responsive.

More Information:

FSA will hold a sign-up for 2017 WHIP no later than July 16. Additional information on WHIP is available on FSA’s 2017 WHIP webpage. For immediate assistance under any of our other disaster programs, please contact a local USDA service center or learn more at www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster.

-Source: USDA

One Montana releases Drought Resilient Ranching Workshops Report

In cooperation with MSU Extension Service and the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, One Montana hosted three workshops (Clyde Park, Two Dot, and Winnett) to provide an opportunity for collaboration in regards to drought resilience. The goal was to facilitate conversations and share knowledge to answer several important questions:

  •  In times of drought, how can farmers and ranchers implement effective management strategies?
  • How can producers adapt to changing weather conditions?
  • What resources are available to predict weather and soil conditions?
  • What resources do producers already utilize?
  • What recommendations do participants have for the USDA on improving drought-related programs?

    Workshop content included presentations from Michael Downey of DNRC about the Flash Drought of 2017, Lee Schmelzer of Stillwater County Extension about the Montana Mesonet, and a talk from Jeff Mosley (Clyde Park and Two Dot) and Mat Walter (Winnett) of MSU Extension titled “Managing Plant Communities After Drought.” The workshops also included group discussion sessions during which participants shared their experiences with the 2017 drought, their perspectives on effective rangeland management strategies during and after drought, and their feedback on resource availability and agency response during times of drought.

To view the full report head over to One Montana’s website.

 

Montana to Exercise Animal Disease Response

The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) is collaborating with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other state and local agencies to conduct an animal disease response exercise, May 8-10, 2018.

The three-day functional exercise will enable MDOL to practice the state’s animal disease response plan. Numerous federal, state and local government agencies will participate in the exercise, which will be based on an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United States.

“Foot-and-mouth disease would have devastating consequences for Montana’s livestock industry and how we handle the initial response would be crucial,” said State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski. “Testing our response plan in an exercise format will be very beneficial and we look forward to participating in the exercise.”

Foot-and-mouth disease was last identified in the United States in 1929. FMD is a highly contagious disease of cattle, sheep, swine, goats, deer and other cloven-hooved animals. It is not a human food safety concern nor a public health threat; however, it is a major concern for animal health officials because it could have potentially devastating economic consequences due to disrupted trade and lost investor confidence. Montana is home to over 2.5 million head of cattle which bring around $1 billion each year in cash receipts.

“This exercise will be a positive experience that will make Montana’s livestock industry more resilient and better prepare us for an outbreak,” said MDOL Executive Officer Mike Honeycutt. “The public should not be concerned if they hear anything about foot-and-mouth disease during the days of the exercise.”

The mission of the Montana Department of Livestock is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the Montana Department of Livestock, visit www.liv.mt.gov.