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.

South Dakota TB strain previously found only in Mexico, new to U.S.

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) was identified in three beef cows during routine slaughter inspection by U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service inspectors at two Nebraska slaughter plants in February, 2017. The cows had been in feedlots in Nebraska and South Dakota since November, 2016.

Market records were used to identify the herd of origin, which was tested by state and federal animal health officials, revealing additional infected animals. The herd remains quarantined and 41 infected animals have been removed from the herd. Final disposition of remaining animals in the herd is being determined.

Thirteen adjacent herds, comprised of over 8,000 head, were quarantined for testing. One herd has been released from quarantine with negative results of testing in all cattle two years of age and older. Testing is in progress in the remaining adjacent herds and the majority of that work should be completed over the next three weeks.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, has conducted whole genome analysis of the bacteria isolated from some of the affected animals from the Harding County herd. Experts have concluded that this strain of bacteria is nearly identical to a strain that is known to exist in dairy cattle in the Central region of Mexico and that it has not previously been identified in the U.S. This strain is not related to the recent strain found in Canadian cattle, previous cases identified in South Dakota cattle or in Michigan wildlife and livestock.

CLICK HERE to read more

Week 11 || Montana’s 65th Legislative Session

 

This week Jay and Kori discuss grizzly bears, b. abortus, Director of Agriculture appointee, exempt wells and so much more.

Tester, Daines resume effort to overturn lynx decision

Montana senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines have rounded up a lengthy list of supporters for a bill to overturn a federal court decision on lynx protection.

Republican Daines and Democrat Tester join Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, on the bill to reverse the Cottonwood decision, which found that the U.S. Forest Service must do a top-level review of new critical habitat for lynx under the Endangered Species Act.

The decision name refers to the Bozeman-based Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, which won the case before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The ruling was essentially confirmed when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a Forest Service appeal in October.

“This bipartisan legislation enjoys the support of diverse stakeholders and will protect Montana jobs and common-sense collaborative forest management projects that have been harmed by this court decision,” Daines wrote in an email.

“The Cottonwood decision could lead to endless red tape for folks working on timber projects, trail maintenance and conservation efforts,” Tester added in the same email. “To restore certainty for Montana mills and folks who work in the woods, we need to eliminate these hurdles created by the court and get this bipartisan bill signed into law.”

“I wish they had consulted me first,” replied John Meyer, the lead attorney at Cottonwood Environmental Law Center. “They are seeking to completely overturn or deform part of the Endangered Species Act. That should be of concern to all Americans.”

The list of 33 supporters includes 10 timber products groups such as the Montana Woods Products Association and Washington Contract Loggers; eight conservation groups including the National, Montana and Idaho Wildlife Federations and Wildlife Management Institute; and three agricultural groups including the Montana Stockgrowers and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. It features a number of hunting and fishing groups, such as Trout Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Boone and Crockett Club.

Tom France of the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula added that the legislation was a product of widespread consultation. He disagreed with Meyer about how much change it might impose on the Endangered Species Act.

“Both Daines and Tester have been very careful in crafting a very targeted bill,” France said. “The conversations we’ve had with them are very responsive. And when you see a bill that really proposes significant changes in the ESA, you will know it. It’s not going to sneak up on anybody. The National Wildlife Foundation is very concerned about weakening protections and we’ll oppose that.”

The Cottonwood decision found that the Forest Service has to take a big-picture look at how it protects lynx critical habitat across 12 million acres touching 11 national forests. It grew out of a controversial mishandling of lynx policy dating back to the predator’s original ESA listing in 2000.

A 2006 critical habitat map left out all national forests, but an investigation found that former George W. Bush administration official Julie MacDonald improperly excluded millions of acres of federal, state and private lands. MacDonald resigned and FWS redid its lynx habitat analysis, increasing the cat’s critical territory from 1,841 square miles to about 39,000 square miles.

Daines’ office consulted with the Obama administration Justice Department in crafting the bill, which takes the same position the Forest Service argued before the 9th Circuit. The agency claimed it was more effective to address lynx habitat concerns on a project-by-project basis, rather than redoing full consultation with the FWS.

“When they say they’re upholding the Obama Forest Service, that’s different than the Obama Fish and Wildlife Service,” Meyer said. “And the Fish and Wildlife Service told the Forest Service if new critical habitat is put in place, you need to consult at the agency level.”

Not quite, according to American Forest Resource Council attorney Lawson Fite. While he acknowledged that the critical habitat maps from the original consultation were flawed, the on-the-ground protections for lynx remain in place. Those include checking snowshoe hare prey populations, winter snowpack levels, potential denning sites and the matrix of habitat connectivity.

“Any project that might affect lynx must be analyzed for effects on those elements,” Fite said. “That’s going to happen whether or not you do plan-level consultation. The bill basically insures that those procedures are still followed, but made in way that you don’t do things that don’t have meaningful conservation benefit.”

The Forest Service estimates 80 forest projects are on hold because of legal challenges based on the Cottontwood decision in Regions 1, 2 and 4. Region 1 challenges include the East Reservoir Restoration Project in the Kootenai National Forest and the Colt-Summit Restoration and Fuels Reduction Project in the Lolo National Forest.

Those Region 1 challenges in lynx critical habitat accounted for about 29 percent of the planned fiscal year 2017 timber harvest volume, amounting to 95.3 million board-feet of lumber on 17,764 acres.

Source: Missoulian

Montana Department of Livestock investigates TB in S.D. herd

Helena, Mont. – The Department of Livestock (DOL) is investigating ties to Montana cattle from a tuberculosis (TB) infected herd in South Dakota. Montana is focusing on three distinct groups of animals:  Contact herds – herds that have shared pasture or fence line contact with the affected herd; Herds that have supplied animals to the affected herd; and Herds that have received animals from the affected herd.

At this time, two Montana cattle herds that had contact with the South Dakota positive animals must undergo a tuberculosis test to confirm that the disease has not spread. Additional herds may be identified as the investigation progresses. The likelihood that Montana herds are infected is extremely low, however, the department is conducting a thorough investigation.

“Following up on interstate movements after a detection of TB or other animal disease is a routine part of disease investigations,” said Tahnee Szymanski, Assistant State Veterinarian. “Our strong working relationship with South Dakota is critical in promptly identifying animal movements and protecting the state of Montana.”

Bovine TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis. The disease causes granulomatous lesions inside the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, spleen, and skin of affected animals. The primary route of spread is aerosol transmission to other animals in close contact. The bacteria is also capable of infecting wildlife, such as deer, and people. The disease has an incubation period that can range from months to years and infected animals may show no clinical signs until later stages of infection, meaning healthy appearing cattle may be infected with the bacteria.

Although TB is a zoonotic disease capable of infecting people, it is not a food safety threat, thanks to a robust meat inspection program and the pasteurization of milk for retail sale.

The mission of the DOL 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 department, visit www.liv.mt.gov.

Week 10 || Montana’s 65th Legislative Session

We are back with an update from Jay and Kori. We have passed the halfway mark but things are not slowing down at the Capital. Below you can find a condensed recap of the bills discussed in the podcast. If you have any questions about the bills discussed please contact the MSGA office at 406.442.3420.

 

 

Snowy February Improves Snowpack in Montana and Streamflow Prospects for Spring

 BOZEMAN, Mont., March 7, 2017 – February brought a notable change to the weather patterns that were experienced during the month of January, according to snowpack data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Montana.

 

Record breaking snowfall for the month of February was experienced in northern and southern river basins of the state during the first two weeks of the month. Snow blanketed the Rocky Mountain Front at the beginning of the month, with low elevations and valleys receiving more than 3 feet of snow. Flattop Mountain SNOTEL (snow telemetry) site in Glacier National Park set a new record for February snowfall and received 12.5 inches of snow water during the month, well above the 30 year normal of 5.3 inches for February. Further south, Cooke City received copious amounts of snow, prompting the first ever “Extreme” avalanche warning for the area when Fisher Creek SNOTEL received 10.9 inches of snow water between Jan. 31 and Feb. 11. Statewide, 12 SNOTEL sites set new records for February totals, and six sites were second highest.

 

Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana, said all basins experienced substantial improvements over the month with many now at near to above normal for March 1, and most basins are also near to above last year at this time. “There are some sub-basins that remain below normal for this date due to the late onset of snowpack this year and sub-par November and January snowfall,” Zukiewicz said. “One major basin is still recovering from near record low early season snow; the Smith-Judith-Musselshell will be reliant on spring precipitation to make up ground before spring and summer runoff.”

 

February typically isn’t one of the “big” snow months for Montana, he said, but this year proved otherwise. As we make the transition into spring, precipitation is favored along and east of the Continental Divide.

 

“Near normal conditions on this date is great news, but there is still a month to a month and a half before snowpack generally peaks in the mountains of Montana,” Zukiewicz said. “The coming months and their weather patterns will play a critical role in the timing and magnitudes of water in the rivers this coming spring and summer.”

 

Streamflow forecasts across the state reflect the near to above normal snowpack in many basins, and above average water year-to-date (Since Oct 1, 2016) precipitation. Many forecast points are near to above average for many rivers and streams for the April – July time period, but some remain below average due to lack of seasonal snowpack in some central Montana basins. Detailed forecasts for 98 streams in Montana can be found in the March 1st, 2017 Water Supply Outlook Report.

 

Monthly Water Supply Outlook Reports can be found here after the 5th business day of the month:http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/mt/snow/waterproducts/basin/

 

March 1, 2017, Snow Water Equivalent
River Basin % of Normal % Last Year
Columbia 96 107
Kootenai, Montana 97 113
Flathead, Montana 97 109
Upper Clark Fork 95 101
Bitterroot 99 105
Lower Clark Fork 98 117
Missouri 100 109
Jefferson 103 97
Madison 113 126
Gallatin 98 108
Headwaters Mainstem 100 97
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 77 73
Sun-Teton-Marias 115 185
St. Mary-Milk 98 151
Yellowstone River Basin 140 173
Upper Yellowstone 128 147
Lower Yellowstone 152 197
West of the Divide 96 107
East of the Divide 120 138
Montana State-Wide 102 113
March 1, 2017, Precipitation
River Basin Monthly % of Average Water Year % of Average Water Year % of Last Year
Columbia 190 120 118
Kootenai, Montana 215 130 114
Flathead, Montana 193 125 124
Upper Clark Fork 161 108 113
Bitterroot 166 106 108
Lower Clark Fork 209 124 123
Missouri 186 131 132
Jefferson 183 122 122
Madison 201 140 151
Gallatin 164 129 126
Headwaters Mainstem 173 117 119
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 158 114 108
Sun-Teton-Marias 220 123 154
St. Mary-Milk 222 159 145
Yellowstone River Basin 198 146 166
Upper Yellowstone 207 145 153
Lower Yellowstone 196 149 182
West of the Divide 190 120 118
East of the Divide 194 136 146
Montana State-Wide 189 128 128
April-July 50% Exceedance Forecasts
River Basin Highest Point Forecast* Lowest Point Forecast** Basin Avg Forecast***
Columbia 143% 93% 104%
Kootenai, Montana 107% 100% 105%
Flathead, Montana 143% 93% 110%
Upper Clark Fork 115% 100% 105%
Bitterroot 102% 94% 99%
Lower Clark Fork 108% 98% 103%
Missouri 129% 58% 102%
Jefferson 129% 82% 106%
Madison 122% 108% 115%
Gallatin 101% 91% 96%
Headwaters Mainstem 106% 100% 104%
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 89% 58% 74%
Sun-Teton-Marias 119% 85% 106%
St. Mary 113% 110% 111%
Yellowstone River Basin 199% 83% 118%
Upper Yellowstone 148% 83% 119%
Lower Yellowstone 199% 90% 118%

Note: Streamflow forecasts are issued for multiple points on rivers and streams within a major river basin and are given as a range of exceedance probabilities. Consult the individual river basin of interest to see the range of values for streams of interest.

*Highest point forecast is the highest 50% forecast of all forecast points within the basin.

**Lowest point forecast is the lowest 50% forecast of all forecast points within the basin.

***Basin average forecast is an average of all 50% forecasts within the basin.

 

Strong Finish for 2016 Red Meat Exports

U.S. pork and beef exports wrapped up an excellent 2016 performance with very strong December results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork export volume reached a record 2.31 million metric tons (mt) in 2016, up 8 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above the previous high in 2012. Export value increased 7 percent from a year ago to $5.94 billion. December pork exports totaled 222,635 mt, up 18 percent year-over-year, valued at $564.2 million, up 20 percent.

Exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total 2016 pork production and 21.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, in 2015. December ratios were 28 percent for total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – up significantly from December 2015. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $50.20 in 2016, up 4 percent from the previous year. The December average was $56.06, up 24 percent.

Beef exports increased 11 percent in volume (1.19 million mt) and 1 percent in value ($6.34 billion) from 2015. December exports totaled 116,847 mt, up 24 percent year-over-year. This was the largest monthly volume since July 2013 and the largest ever for December. Export value was $619.1 million in December, up 22 percent.

Exports accounted for 13.7 percent of total beef production in 2016 and 10.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 13.1 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2015. December exports accounted for 15.6 percent of total December beef production and 12.1 percent for muscle cuts only – each up more than 2 percentage points from a year ago and the highest since 2011. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $262.17, down 6 percent from 2015, but the December average was $301.97 – up 14 percent and the highest in nearly two years.

Pork to Mexico sets fifth straight volume record; China/Hong Kong also record-large 

A remarkable second half pushed 2016 pork export volume to Mexico to its fifth consecutive record at 730,316 mt – breaking the previous record by 2 percent. Export value to Mexico totaled $1.36 billion, up 7 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record, trailing only the $1.56 billion mark reached in 2014.

“At this time of record-large pork production, it would be hard to overstate the importance of Mexican demand to the U.S. industry,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “This is especially true for hams, as we are locked out of Russia – once a large destination for U.S. hams – and China’s demand for imported hams has moderated in recent months. So now more than ever, we need strong demand from our key customers in Mexico, and they have responded with extraordinary results. December exports to Mexico accounted for nearly $16 per head, and that’s absolutely critical to the entire U.S. pork supply chain.”

Though down from the high levels seen earlier in the year, December pork exports to China/Hong Kong were still up 40 percent year-over-year in volume (47,242 mt) and 42 percent higher in value ($96 million). For the full year, exports to China/Hong set a new volume record of 544,943 mt (up 61 percent) and broke the $1 billion mark for the first time ($1.07 billion, up 53 percent).

Other 2016 highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

  • Japan remained the leading value destination for U.S. pork, though exports fell 5 percent in volume (387,712 mt) and 2 percent in value ($1.56 billion) compared to 2015. However, chilled exports to Japan set a new record of 218,211 mt, up 8 percent.
  • Led by a record performance in Central America and a fourth-quarter surge in Colombia and Chile, exports to the Central/South America region increased 11 percent in volume (135,954 mt) and 9 percent in value ($334.5 million).
  • Pork shipments increased to both Australia and New Zealand, as export volume to Oceania reached 69,963 mt (up 10 percent) valued at $197.3 million (up 3 percent).
  • Exports to the Dominican Republic set another record in 2016, topping the previous year’s totals by 10 percent in volume (25,591 mt) and 6 percent in value ($56.4 million).
  • Fueled by increases in China/Hong Kong and Canada and steady exports to Mexico, pork variety meat exports jumped 20 percent in volume to 523,199 mt and 24 percent in value to $999 million – just short of the record levels reached in 2014.

Asian markets drive strong beef export growth 

Driven by strong demand for higher-value chilled cuts, beef exports achieved new value records in South Korea and Taiwan in 2016, and rebounded strongly in Japan.

In Korea, December beef exports soared by 81 percent in volume (20,333 mt) and 88 percent in value ($130 million) from a year ago, capping a remarkable year in which exports totaled 179,280 mt (up 42 percent) valued at $1.06 billion – up 31 percent from a year ago and breaking the previous value record by more than 20 percent. Korea’s per capita beef consumption set a new record in 2016 of 34 pounds (carcass weight) – so the U.S. not only gained market share, but also capitalized on the market’s overall growth.

Beef exports to Taiwan were also strong in December, with export value ($43.3 million) hitting its highest level ever. Full-year exports to Taiwan were up 25 percent in volume to 44,053 mt and 14 percent in value to $362.8 million.

2016 exports to Japan were the largest of the post-BSE era at 258,653 mt, up 26 percent year-over-year. Export value totaled $1.51 billion, up 18 percent. Chilled beef exports to Japan totaled 112,334 mt, up 44 percent from 2015.

“In addition to the strength of the U.S. dollar, U.S. beef overcame other severe challenges in these north Asian markets and achieved remarkable results,” Seng said. “Despite facing higher tariff rates in Japan compared to Australian beef, U.S. beef displaced its competition and won back significant market share. And the investment the U.S. industry made to rebuild consumer confidence in Korea is paying tremendous dividends, especially in the retail sector. We’re seeing U.S. beef featured regularly by retailers who were once reluctant to carry the product.”

Other 2016 highlights for U.S. beef included:

  • Beef exports to Mexico increased 7 percent year-over-year in volume to 242,373 mt, though value fell 11 percent to $974.9 million. While challenged by a weak peso, Mexico remains a key destination for muscle cuts such as shoulder clods and rounds, as well as for beef variety meat.
  • Led by strong growth in Chile and a doubling of exports to Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 6 percent in volume to 22,810 mt, valued at $92.7 million (down 2 percent). The region should see further growth in 2017 with the reopening of Brazil.
  • Exports to Central America were up 7 percent in volume (12,745 mt) with top market Guatemala up 1 percent and exports to Honduras nearly doubling. Export value was $71.8 million, up 1 percent.
  • Fueled by a resurgence in Indonesia and solid growth in Vietnam, beef exports to the ASEAN region were up 41 percent in volume (29,920 mt) and 15 percent in value ($156.9 million). Indonesia expanded access for U.S. beef in early August. Despite being closed to many products through the first seven months of the year, U.S. exports to Indonesia set a new value record of $39.4 million.
  • Beef variety meat exports increased 10 percent in volume (341,433 mt) and 4 percent in value ($902.2 million) in 2016. Liver exports increased 12 percent to 81,727 and reached a broader range of markets. While liver exports to Egypt – the largest destination for U.S. livers – increased 4 percent, further growth was achieved in Central and South America and with the reopening of South Africa to U.S. beef.

Lamb muscle cut exports continue upward trend 

Although U.S. lamb exports were down in 2016, this was largely due to a sharp decline in variety meat exports. While total exports fell 11 percent in volume (8,248 mt) and 4 percent in value ($18.3 million), muscle cut exports increased 26 percent (2,239 mt) and 16 percent ($12.3 million) respectively. Leading market Mexico followed a similar pattern, as variety meat exports declined significantly, but muscle cut exports increased 9 percent in volume (965 mt) and 1 percent in value ($2.8 million). Emerging markets showing promise in 2016 included Bermuda, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.

Complete January-December export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at jschuele@usmef.org or call 303-547-0030.

NOTES:

  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.

Source: USMEF

Landowners have until March 30 to apply for access tax credit program

Landowners have until March 30 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks for enrollment in a new program called Unlocking Public Lands that may qualify a landowner for up to $3,000 in annual tax credits. Through this program, a landowner who enters into a contractual agreement with FWP to allow public recreational access across private land to reach a parcel of otherwise inaccessible state or federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service (USFS) land is entitled to receive a $750 annual tax credit per contract, with a maximum of four contracts per year.

The Unlocking Public Lands program is a product of the 2015 Legislature, which expanded a program called Unlocking State Land passed by the previous legislature. While Montana contains nearly 31 million acres of BLM, USFS, and state land, much of this land requires landowner permission to cross private land to reach the state or federal land.

“Offering a tax credit in exchange for allowing public access across private land to reach public land is a unique and innovative way to increase public access,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator. “We hope these new opportunities and incentives may appeal to landowners throughout the state.”

More information about the program, including enrollment criteria and the application form, can be found at http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/hunterAccess/unlockingPublicLands/.

Cow Sense Chronicle || Night Feeding for Daytime Calving

Written by Rachel Endecott, Beef Cattle Specialist

We’ve all experienced that middle‐of‐the‐night calving incident that sure would have been easier to manage if it had happened in the daylight. Some ranchers use an evening feeding strategy to shift more cows to calve during the day.

A case study comparing two sets of calving data with different feeding times illustrates this phenomenon well (Jaeger, et al. 2008. Professional Animal Scien st. 24:247). One group of cows was fed between 6 and 8 am (15 years of data, 1210 observations) and another group of cows was fed between 4 and 6 pm ( 5 years of data, 537 observations). Researchers divided the day into six, 4‐hour periods starting at 6 am and recorded the number of cows who calved during each 4‐hour period.

Cows who were fed in the morning had nearly equal distribution of cows calving during each period of the day. This resulted in nearly equal proportions of cows calving between 6 am and 6 pm (52%) and those calving between 6 pm and 6 am (48%).

Cows who were fed in the evening did not have an equal distribution of cows calving during each period of the day. In fact, 85% of cows calved between 6 am and 6 pm and only 15% calved between 6 pm and 6 am.

There are many factors in addition to timing of feeding that can override the timing of calving. Research in cattle and other species suggests that physical activity, daily variation in hormonal secretion, ambient temperature, or day length may play a role.

Questions for Rachel? Rachel.endecott@montana.edu or 406-994-3747