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.

Nearly $2 Billion Now Available for Eligible Producers Affected by 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2018 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 now may apply for assistance to help recover and rebuild their farming operations. Sign up begins July 16, 2018, and continues through November 16, 2018.

“Hurricanes and wildfires caused billions of dollars in losses to America’s farmers last year. Our objective is to get relief funds into the hands of eligible producers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “We are making immediate, initial payments of up to 50 percent of the calculated assistance so producers can pay their bills.”

Additional payments will be issued, if funds remain available, later in the year.

The program, known as the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) was authorized by Congress earlier this year by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

Eligible crops, trees, bushes, or vines, located in a county declared in a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or Secretarial Disaster Designation as a primary county are eligible for assistance if the producer suffered a loss as a result of a 2017 hurricane. Also, losses located in a county not designated as a primary county may be eligible if the producer provides documentation showing that the loss was due to a hurricane or wildfire in 2017. A list of counties that received qualifying hurricane declarations and designations is available at Eligibility is determined by Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees.

Agricultural production losses due to conditions caused by last year’s wildfires and hurricanes, including excessive rain, high winds, flooding, mudslides, fire, and heavy smoke, could qualify for assistance through the program. Typically, 2017 WHIP is only designed to provide assistance for production losses, however, if quality was taken into consideration under the insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy, where production was further adjusted, the adjusted production will be used in calculating assistance under this program.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or NAP coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. A list of crops covered by crop insurance is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Actuarial Information Browser at

Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of insurance coverage elected by the producer. A WHIP factor will be determined for each crop based on the producer’s coverage level. Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP factor.

The 2017 WHIP payment factor ranges from 65 percent to 95 percent, depending upon the level of crop insurance coverage or NAP coverage that a producer obtained for the crop. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2017 will receive 65 percent of the expected value of the crop. Insured producers will receive between 70 percent and 95 percent of expected value; those who purchased the highest levels of coverage will receive 95-percent coverage.

Each eligible producer requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a payment limitation of either $125,000 or $900,000, depending upon their average adjusted gross income, which will be verified. The payment limit is $125,000 if less than 75 percent of the person or legal entity’s average adjusted gross income is average adjusted gross farm income. The payment limit is $900,000 if 75 percent or more of the average adjusted gross income of the person or legal entity is average adjusted gross farm income.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for 2017 WHIP. However, all producers receiving 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance and/or NAP, at the 60 percent coverage level or higher, for the next two available crop years to meet statutory requirements. Producers who fail to purchase crop insurance for the next two applicable years will be required to pay back the 2017 WHIP payment.

To help expedite payments, a producer who does not have records established at the local USDA service center are encouraged to do so early in the process. To establish a record for a farm, a producer needs:

  • Proof of identity: driver’s license and Social Security number/card;
  • Copy of recorder deed, survey plat, rental, or lease agreement of the land. A producer does not have to own property to participate in FSA programs;
  • Corporation, estate, or trust documents, if applicable

Once signup begins, a producer will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records. If a producer is unable to provide production records, USDA will calculate the yield based on the county average yield. A producer with this information on file does not need to provide the information again.

For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA service center or visit

Source: USDA

The Montana Pesticide Waste Disposal Program and 2018 Sites

Pesticide applicators should be aware of the Montana Pesticide Waste Disposal Program and 2018 sites. Delaying removal of unused pesticide products often leads to corroded containers that pose unnecessary risks towards the environmental and human health. By following a few simple steps applicators can ensure that unused pesticides are discarded and disposed of legally and safely.

Disposing of Pesticide Waste

Applicators should use the Montana pesticide waste disposal program if they have unknown pesticide products (due to worn product label), unregistered pesticide products or unusable pesticides that are in need of disposal. The Montana pesticide waste disposal program began in 1994 and has collected more than 584,000 pounds of pesticide waste from more than 1,682 participants since its onset. Common pesticide active ingredients collected include DDT, chlordane, 2,4,5-T, dinoseb and the rodenticide ‘strychnine’. Costs for participating in the program are significantly lower than other pesticide disposal alternatives. The disposal fee is FREE for the first 200 pounds and $0.50/lb for amounts greater than 200 pounds, with a minimum charge of $5.00. Dioxins or dioxin precursors within pesticide products often result in a higher fee.

Pesticide disposal program locations and dates for 2018 are:

  • September 18, 2018 – Havre, MT
  • September 19, 2018 – Great Falls, MT
  • September 20, 2018 – Bozeman, MT
  • September 21, 2018 – Columbus, MT

All licensed pesticide applicators within district 2 (central 1/3rd of Montana) will receive information and pre-registration forms by mail in July. Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is requesting participants pre-register their pesticide by early August so the collection can be managed safely and efficiently. Early pre-registration is recommended as the program is on a first-come, first-serve basis. All materials including the pesticide disposal registration form can be downloaded on the MDA click here to register online. Mail registration form to Montana Department of Agriculture, Pesticide Disposal Program, 54 East Larslan Road, Larslan, MT 59244.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact Carli Lofing for additional information regarding the MDA Pesticide Disposal or Container Recycling Program at (406)465-0531 or email For any other questions contact Cecil Tharp, Pesticide Education Specialist (406-994-5067, or see the MDA pesticide waste disposal site.

“Taking the gamble out of grazing,” theme of upcoming national conference

Interested in learning more about proper grazing lands management and stewardship sustainability? Then ride to Reno, Nev. this December to hear first-hand from cowboy and industry experts how to take the gamble out of grazing at the 7thNational Conference on Grazing Lands, Dec. 2-5, 2018, being held at the Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino.

“We look to have another outstanding conference in Nevada this year,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition (NatGLC). “This is a must-attend conference for anyone striving to manage their grazing lands in an environmentally sustainable, economic manner. From the conference information provided by renowned grazing managers, to the numerous opportunities to network and exchange ideas, there is something for every attendee.”

Fred Provenza and Jim Gerrish are just two of the renowned speakers on tap to share decades of experience. Provenza, professor emeritus at Utah State University, has more than 30 years of research and experience under his belt and is nationally recognized for his behavior-based landscape management systems. Gerrish, a producer and consultant, is dedicated to teaching others about managing grazing lands for environmental and economic sustainability.

The conference also includes a trade show with vendors from varied segments of the agricultural industry, including booths and representatives from allied industries to government conservation agencies. The agenda allows plenty of time for visiting with friends and vendors at the tradeshow.

“When people think about grazing lands, they think about livestock. But these lands are so much more than a home for livestock,” said Ellis. “Grazing lands provide habitat for wildlife, act as a sponge to capture rainfall, sequester carbon and numerous other benefits. I encourage those interested in attending to visit the NatGLC website to learn more about this vital conference.”

To register online for the conference visit Online registration is $395 until Oct. 15, 2018. After that date, registration increases to $475. Or, contact Monti Golla, executive director of NatGLC at 979-777-9779 with any questions.

Witnesses Explain Multiple Benefits of Public Lands Grazing at Congressional Hearing

WASHINGTON (July 12, 2018) A lieutenant governor, a scientist, and an agricultural industry leader made the case for eliminating regulatory burdens and legal loopholes impacting livestock grazing on federal land during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing held today.

Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, University of Montana Professor Dr. Dave Naugle, and Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse provided testimony to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing entitled “The Essential Role of Livestock Grazing on Federal Lands and Its Importance to Rural America.” The witnesses emphasized the valuable contribution public lands ranchers make to the economic viability of rural communities and the health of America’s shared natural resources.

“Ranchers are indispensable in the successful management of our public lands. Unlike government administrators, who are only there for a few years, ranchers have been on the land for generations,” said Little, a third-generation rancher testifying on behalf of the State of Idaho, the Public Lands Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “If ranchers are regulated off, our country loses the most effective and efficient public lands managers, and the private inholdings are likely sold for development.”

Species conservation is one of the benefits of public lands ranching. The Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) species conservation model, demonstrates the potential of collaborative conservation efforts between ranchers and federal agencies. Naugle, who has served as a third-party science advisor to SGI for eight years, believes it is vital to ensure ranchers can continue raising livestock on public lands.

”To date, 2,154 producers have partnered up to conserve 7.5 million acres of grazing lands, an acreage equivalent to three Yellowstone National Parks, benefiting hundreds of rural communities and countless wildlife resources,” Naugle said. “Rancher participation in SGI remains high post-listing decision because WLFW provides win-win solutions that are ‘good for the bird and good for the herd’.”

Despite the proven benefits or grazing, activist groups have increasingly targeted the livestock industry. According to a study by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a group of eight environmental activist groups filed over 3,300 lawsuits nationwide over a ten-year period. Little said many of these lawsuits exploit regulations found in environmental policy, limiting grazing on public land.

“While well-intended when enacted in the seventies, ESA and NEPA have evolved into weapons for habitual litigants, and the regulations they produce are as ineffective as they are burdensome,” Little said. “Species conservation doesn’t work from the top-down.”

Public lands ranchers see an opportunity to work with the federal government and the environmental community to achieve desired outcomes in land management and species conservation across the West. However, this can only be achieved through regulatory reform that will allow their industry to continue to serve as stewards to America’s public land.

“I urge you to address the burdensome regulatory environment which threatens our way of life and those rural communities where ranching is the year-round backbone that sustains our schools, healthcare, and economies,” Little said.

USDA-NRCS Montana Offers Funding for Conservation Gardens, High Tunnels

Bozeman, Mont., July 11, 2018–The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for grants to establish community gardens, pollinator gardens and seasonal high tunnels through the Montana NRCS Conservation Garden Project.

Proposals will be accepted from eligible entities for projects located in Montana, including city or township governments, county governments, special districts, state governments, nonprofit organizations, independent school districts, institutions of higher education, and Federally recognized Native American tribal governments.

The NRCS has funding available for the Montana NRCS Conservation Garden Project as follows:

  • Grants up to $4,000 will be available for a community garden. Funds are to be used for garden supplies which can include tools, seed, fertilizer, soil and soil additives, irrigation materials and garden materials. Technical assistance by NRCS staff will be available to help determine site, slope, placement, etc.
  • Grants up to $3,000 will be available for pollinator gardens. NRCS will provide technical assistance based on pollinator specifications.
  • Grants up to $6,500 will be available for construction of a seasonal high tunnel. NRCS specifications for the construction of a Seasonal High Tunnel will be followed.
  • Grant applicants may request funding for a combination of the choices above:  community garden, pollinator garden and seasonal high tunnel.

Applications for the Montana NRCS Conservation Garden Project are due by Aug. 10, 2018. The Notice of Funding Opportunity is available at The Opportunity number is USDA-NRCS-MT-18-01, and the title is Montana Conservation Garden Project. Applicants must have a DUNS number and an active registration in SAM. Questions can be directed to Lori Valadez, (406) 587-6969.

Join our team – MSGA is hiring!

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is hiring for the Director of Natural Resources position. This position is responsible for the formulation, institution, and monitoring of policies, programs, and issues related to natural resources that are affecting the cattle industry. This position also serves as the executive assistant for the Montana Association of State Grazing Districts and the Montana Public Lands Council and represents the associations at the state legislature. A full job description is included below.

Director of Natural Resources

Oversees natural resource division, represents MSGA at the state legislature, serves as the executive assistant for Montana Association of State Grazing Districts (MASGD), and the Montana Public Lands Council (MPLC).

Reports to: Executive Vice President (EVP)


  • Formulate, institute, and monitor policies, programs, and issues related to natural resources that are affecting the cattle industry.
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and performance of all natural resource department programs, activities, and services, ensuring that program goals are being met.
  • Collaborate with the Communications Director on natural resource issues updates to MSGA membership.
  • Monitor state and federal agencies meetings and activities to provide necessary input that advances MSGA policies, programs, and issues:
    • Environmental Quality Council
    • Board of Environmental Review
    • Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission
    • State Land Board
    • NRCS Technical Advisory Committee
    • Board of Livestock  


  • Serve as Executive Assistant for MASGD Board of Directors.
  • Analyse and monitor regulatory activities of state and federal agencies impacting livestock management on federal and state lands. Including, but not limited to BLM planning process documents.
  • Submission of detailed comments representing the livestock industry on regulatory or legislative actions
  • Oversee departmental operations including business planning and budget development.
  • Prepare financial statements, reports, memos, dues invoices, and related documents as needed for MASGD
  • Plan all necessary arrangements for MASGD meetings and events.
  • Represent MASGD on range tours, natural resource-related meetings, and field activities that have a focus on grazing management.
  • Attend grazing district annual meetings and provide updates.  
  • Support EVP in representing  MASGD and grazing interests at the Montana legislature.
  • Establish and maintain communications strategy with Grazing Districts.
  • Coordinate activities with the Montana Grass Conservation Commission.
  • Assist grazing district members with issues affecting individual state or federal grazing permits.
  • Actively promote the establishment of new grazing districts.
  • Coordinate with the staff of the National Public Lands Council regarding national issues.
  • Responsible for MASGD Membership database development.


  • Monitor and engage in state and federal agency actions impacting livestock grazing permittees use of public lands.
  • Submission of detailed comments representing the livestock industry on regulatory or legislative actions impacting federal or state lands.
  • Assist in representing MPLC and public land interests at the Montana legislature.
  • Provide general administrative support for MPLC.
  • Plan all necessary arrangements for MPLC meetings and events..
  • Maintain a database of all federal grazing permittees in the state.
  • Responsible for the development and implementation of the MPLC Membership Marketing Strategy.
  • Prepare financial statements, reports, memos, dues invoices, and related documents as needed for MPLC.  
  • Oversee departmental operations including business planning and budget development.
  • Provide a communication strategy for MPLC members on public land issues.


  • Staff support for MSGA Standing Committee.
    • Provide administrative support for the committee chairman and vice chairman.
  • Additional duties as assigned by Executive Vice President.


The Director of Natural Resources is expected to demonstrate professional skill, high standards, sound judgment, and professionalism. It is important for this position to exhibit a high level of communication to enhance working relationships both internally and externally. Successful applicants will have the ability to manage multiple priorities while maintaining a calm and pleasant demeanor. Problem-solving and an attention to detail will be critical in this role. A prior knowledge of the demographics served by the Montana Stockgrowers Association is preferred. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree and experience in a related field.

To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to Kori Anderson at The application deadline is July 31, 2018.




MDOL Accepting Public Comment for Administrative Rule Changes

The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) will be holding public meetings seeking comment on a number of proposed rule changes. Click here for a complete list of the proposed rule changes.

Public Meetings have been scheduled in the following communities:

  • July 17th, 9 am at Absarokee Elementary School
  • July 17th, 2 pm at Bridger Elementary
  • July 18th, 9 am at The Eagles in Big Timber
  • July 23rd, 10 am at Jefferson High in Boulder
  • July 24th, 10 am at Townsend School

Of particular note are the changes to rule 32.3.436. The change would require all female cattle over 12 months of age to be official vaccinates for brucellosis in any county that contains or borders a brucellosis designated surveillance area (DSA). Currently, female cattle in Gallatin, Madison, Park, and Beaverhead Counties are required to be vaccinates; the proposed rule would expand that requirement to Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Jefferson, and Broadwater Counties.

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

Livestock Groups Urge Swift Passage of ESA Amendments of 2018

The Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) today urged swift passage of the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018. The amendments, introduced today by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, are based on the Western Governor Association Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative bipartisan policy recommendations. In a letter of support, PLC President Dave Eliason, NCBA President Kevin Kester, and ASI President Mike Corn stated:

“As the nation’s largest non-governmental bloc of land managers, ranchers take great pride in their integral role in species conservation and recovery. For generations, livestock producers have been dedicated to improving the health of landscapes where wildlife call home. Over the years, they have grown frustrated by the lack of commonsense ESA implementation and being put on the sidelines while those decisions are made. This legislation will help bring them back to the table to craft recovery plans that are workable and produce favorable results.”

MSU Extension Ag Alert: Soil Acidity, An emerging issue that requires scouting

MSU researchers encourage crop producers and crop advisers to be on the lookout for decreasing soil pH leading to low production and sometimes crop failure. Farmers in several Montana counties are experiencing nearly complete yield loss in portions of their fields due to soil acidity (low pH). This is an emerging issue in the state, where low soil pH has traditionally not been a concern. MSU soil scientists, Extension Agents, crop advisers, and producers have now identified fields in 20 Montana counties with soil pH levels below 5.5, some as low as 3.8. MSU will be hosting a field day at the Post Farm (west of Bozeman) on July 13, where Clain Jones, Extension soil fertility specialist, will share research-based information on the topic in the afternoon.

Bulked soil sampling (containing multiple subsamples) in the top 0 to 6-inch depth across large field landscapes may not be helpful in identifying fields with soil acidity problems. Many Montana fields have wide spatial variances in soil pH. Often soil pH in low lying areas will be considerably lower than in summit hillslope positions only a 100 yards away. Also, many Montana fields exhibit pH differences of up to 3 units (e.g. 5 to 8) between the surface and 18 inches down. Because the lowest pH is generally in the top 2 to 3 inches of soil, this low pH may be masked by collecting soil samples in a standard 0 to 6-inch depth increment.

At pH levels below 5.0, naturally-occurring soil metals like aluminum and manganese become more soluble and can stunt root and shoot growth. Young plants in acidic areas are often yellow (similar to nitrogen deficiency, yet less uniform) or even pink with club or “witch’s broom” roots(similar to nematode damage). Substantial yield losses occur at pH levels below 4.5. The most sensitive cereal crops appear to be barley and durum, followed by spring wheat. Legumes can develop nitrogen deficiency in low pH areas before they exhibit aluminum toxicity because nitrogen fixation is impacted below about pH 6 (see photograph below).

Acidity problems usually start in low lying areas of a field, where yield has historically been high, and acidity symptoms spread outward. Producers are encouraged to look at pH values in top 6- inch soil tests. If the pH is consistently above 7.5, it’s unlikely the field has a problem. If pH is below 6.0, the producer should consider sampling different topographic areas of their fields. If pH is between 6 and 7.5, a judgment by the crop adviser and/or producer will need to be made if additional soil sampling or scouting is worthwhile. Surface soil pH can vary more than 2 pH units over short distances (< 100 yards). For example, the soil pH in low lying areas may be less than 5, and then abruptly change up a small hill/slope. Soil sampling is recommended even if no symptoms are observed because once low pH symptoms are observed, yield has likely been lost.

On fields where standard bulked soil test pH levels are below 6.0 scout for yellow seedlings and club roots. To verify that those symptoms are caused by low pH, the top 3 inches of soil can be analyzed for pH, either with a field pH stick, probe, color strips, or lab analysis. The soil in the zone at the edge of poor growth areas should also be sampled to determine if the pH is close to toxic on the margins but crops do not yet exhibit symptoms. The potential is there for problem areas to grow in size. Areas, where pH is less than 6, should be managed differently to prevent further acidification.

Based on regional research, the major cause of acidification appears to be ammonium fertilizers, including urea, applied in excess of crop uptake. No-till concentrates the acidity near the surface where fertilizer is applied. A cooperative research study led by Rick Engel (LRES) and including Dr. Jones, and people from the Central Ag Research Center, the Montana Salinity Control Association, Chouteau County Extension, Chouteau County Conservation District, and producers are in progress to develop prevention, mitigation, and adaptation options for Montana croplands.

For additional information on cropland soil acidification, go to this site or contact Clain Jones, 406-994-6076.

To view pictures visit the MSU Extension Ag Alerts page.