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.

Did you send in your comments on the draft brucellosis action plan yet? Comments are due Nov. 1

Last Thursday and Friday I attended two town meetings on the Department of Livestock’s draft brucellosis action plan in Ennis and Dillon. State Veterinarian, Dr. Zaluski presented the plan to a crowd of about 50 people at the Ennis Public Library on Thursday, and Dr. Linfield, who has been contracted by the DOL to develop herd plans and work with producers in the Greater Yellowstone Area, presented the plan to a crowd of about 40 in the 4-H Building at the Dillon Fairgrounds.

Both portrayed the plan as a short-term, targeted surveillance plan to help us get our brucellosis Class Free status back. Both Dr. Zaluski and Dr. Linfield were careful to say that the plan is not split-state status and it is not a regionalization plan. Both estimated that it will take 12-18 months to get our status back with this plan. The lines for the three areas, Area 1 – Special Focus Area (elevated exposure potential); Area 2 – Assurance Area (minimal or no exposure potential); Area 3 – Area of No/Unlikely Exposure Potential, were drawn according to county and other political lines to encompass hunting districts that have had brucellosis-positive elk. (However, both failed to mention that the numbers are from a 20-year period and are not scientifically or statistically sound.) Apparently Idaho has used a similar three-area system for surveillance.

In Area 1, all producers will complete a mandatory risk assessment, have the option to create a herd plan, and every herd will have an entire herd test by Dec. 31, 2009. Zaluski said DOL will submit a report and a Class Free Application to APHIS in June of 2009, which APHIS will review in July, then we can hope to get a yes or a no, no earlier than December of 2009.

Both Zaluski and Linfield also discussed how this plan fits in with the long term efforts. One example that was discussed was APHIS’s idea to regionalize the GYA in all three states and call it the National Brucellosis Eradication Zone. Other efforts discussed were the Tri-State Veterinarian meetings, changes in the Federal Rules, and efforts with the U.S. Animal Health Association. Dr. Zaluski was on his way to the USAHA meeting in North Carolina on Friday which is why he was unable to attend the Dillon meeting.

Another component of the plan that applies to the whole state is the proposal to make official calfhood vaccination mandatory. Zaluski suggested that this step would bolster confidence in our trading partners. Zaluski pointed out that states like Pennsylvania and New York still require OCV for brucellosis in their state and they do not face the same risk as Montana does. Zaluski said that since most Montana producers already OCV, this shouldn’t create a burden. It will also be consistent with what Idaho does and Wyoming is considering it as well.

During the comment times of both meetings, many people commented about the lack of an end-date for the plan. “This plan is called short term, but nothing in this plan looks short term,” said John Scully at the Ennis meeting.

Zaluski said that some testing and surveillance requirements would likely continue after Montana regains its Class Free status. “Other states are demanding additional testing,” he said.
Bob Sitz commented that the plan is going to be a problem for most of the producers in Madison County because they live in Area 2 or 3 and summer their herds in Area 1. Testing would most likely have to happen at the home ranch where the ranchers have the facilities to get the cattle in, but which requirements would they have to meet, the requirements of the area where the cattle were, or the home ranch?

Sitz also suggested that the DOL emphasize testing the high risk animals such as young, open cows that. He said Trans Ova buys most of its cows from Montana and tests 50,000 head of open 3-6 year olds, and has only found one case from Montana, the index cow from the Bridger Herd. Sitz suggested that the state rely on this type of testing instead of the onerous testing of entire herds even if there is no reason to suspect they might have brucellosis. He said later, “All this testing out in the country is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Keep it simple.” At the meeting Zaluski said the Trans Ova surveillance is “not sufficient.”

Many of the comments echoed the opinion that producers are doing everything they can and yet are bearing the burden of this mess while the wildlife agencies do nothing. One questions very pointedly asked: What is FWP going to do about the elk?

In Ennis, Pat Flowers, Director of FWP Region 3 explained the departments plan to spend nearly $100,000 on enhanced surveillance and testing efforts for elk using hunter gathered samples. A member of the audience asked: “What’s the plan after you find out where all the brucellosis is?”
Flowers responded that the money is only planned for increased surveillance.

There was a lot of talk about the problem stemming from feedgrounds in Wyoming, rather than the bison in Yellowstone National Park. (Several feedgrounds permits were recently renewed by the Forest Service for 20 years). Kurt Ault of FWP said, “The brucellosis problem is due to the 25 feedlots in Wyoming with seropositive rate of 27-70%, even higher than the Yellowstone National Park bison.”

The audience also addressed questions about finding an effective vaccine for all species.Neil Anderson of FWP told producers not to hold their breaths for an effective elk vaccine. “There won’t be an effective elk vaccine in my lifetime.”

Producers also asked what Yellowstone National Park’s plans to do to control brucellosis in bison. Zaluski explained that the park has offered draft versions of disease suppression plans and the remote vaccination Environmental Impact Statement is due out soon.

John Crumley commented, “This [plan] is pretty hard to swallow as the pool of infection seems to get larger. You’re asking these people to do some hard things but at the same time you, or we as a whole, are letting more bison roam farther into Montana.”

Rachel Endecott asked Zaluski in Ennis what the budget for this plan would be and what the Department’s personnel situation is. Zaluski explained that the budget for the plan is somewhere near $2 million for one year of testing and hiring two veterinarians and one program manager to implement the plan. DOL is seeking funding sources on the state and federal level so the department can implement the plan at no or little cost to producers, though no funding has been secured yet. Zaluksi commented that he is working to “make sure producers are not priced out of their business” by this plan.

In Dillon, Linfield said that the plan probably won’t have any real affect on producers until next fall.

Linfield discussed how Zaluski has said repeatedly that the only alternative to this plan is doing nothing and that won’t work to get our status back. In Dillon, Bryan Mussard commented that he’d rather do nothing and not regain our status because now that we are Class A, herds that are found to be infected are not required to depopulate but can test out instead.

In Dillon, Meg Smith asked Linfield why the DOL can’t force FWP to make more effort to deal with diseased elk when the DOL has statutory authority over disease in the state. After the meeting in Dillon, Bryan Mussard commented that the DOL is telling producers what to do but is asking FWP.

Overall, it seems that producers are very worried that this plan will take pressure off the wildlife agencies and place the burden squarely on their own shoulders.

Planning underway for MSGA’s 125th Anniversary Celebration in Miles City

Planning is underway for the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s 125th Anniversary Celebration, June 10-13, 2009, in Miles City. The celebration will cap off the organization’s regular mid-year meeting.

In 1884, a group of seven men, led by Col. Thomas J. Bryan, met at the newly formed Miles City Club and founded the Eastern Montana Stockgrowers Association. Later, across the state in Helena, another group of men, led by Granville Stuart, formed the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The members of the two groups decided to merge into the one Montana Stockgrowers Association that exists today.

MSGA will hold its mid-year meetings Wednesday, June 10 through Friday morning, June 12. Just before noon on Friday, the 125th Anniversary Celebration will begin. So far these events are planned: golf scramble, Solaris Feeders tour, Fort Keogh tour, Frontier Photographers presentation at the Art Center, Western Roundup exhibit at the Art Center, Range Riders Museum visit, Friday Night Dinner & Dance at the fairgrounds, wagon/cattle drive, parade and ranch rodeo. Look for more details and registration information at the trade show during MSGA’s Annual Convention, December 11-13, 2008, or log on to For more information, please contact Lea Moore by phone (406) 853-0411 or email

Montana Stockgrowers Association’s 124th Annual Convention and Trade Show set for Dec. 11-13 in Billings

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) will hold its 124th Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings, Dec. 11-13.

The convention’s highlight will be the Grand Finale Banquet on Saturday night, Dec. 13. This year, Tucker Hughes, who energized and entertained the crowd last year, will return as emcee. Events for the Grand Finale Banquet will include a prime rib dinner, live entertainment, fashion show, auction and drawings for a Nutra Lix saddle, lawn mower and more! For the grand prize, one lucky member will drive away in a 2008 Dodge Cummins Diesel truck sponsored by Lithia Dodge of Billings, First Interstate Bank of Billings, Northern Ag Network, Western Ranch Supply, Pfizer Animal Health, WALCO Animal Health and MSGA!

Other notable events include Friday night’s “Night around the Campfire” Trade Show Grand Opening, beginning at 5 p.m. and featuring music by the Ringling 5. The convention will include meetings, speakers, and great events like the Cattlemen’s Colleges, the Women of the West Fair and the Trade Show featuring agri-businesses with diverse products and services for the livestock industry, including crafts, jewelry and home décor.

The annual meetings of the Montana CattleWomen (MCW), the Montana Hereford Association, the Montana Cattle Feeders, and the joint Montana Public Lands Council and the Montana Association of State Grazing Districts board meeting will be held concurrently with MSGA’s meetings on Thursday. On Friday, MSGA and MCW will kick off the convention with an Opening General Session and committee meetings.
Please visit our website,, or contact Rose at MSGA, (406) 442-3420, to register for the convention, reserve your trade show booth or to learn more about sponsoring an event.

PETA’s take on the Schweitzer/Brown vegetarian brouhaha

October 22, 2008

Governor Brian Schweitzer
cc: Senator Roy Brown

Dear Governor Schweitzer:

We at PETA have noticed that vegetarianism has made news lately in Montana, so we wanted to provide a little food for thought. Vegetarians might be outnumbered by cows in Montana, but that doesn’t mean you should contribute to the B.S. America’s meat habit fuels our obesity epidemic, and meat consumption has also been linked to heart disease, certain types of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. A recent U.N. report found that meat production is a leading environmental hazard: Animal waste from factory farms pollutes rivers and bays from coast to coast, and raising animals for food tops the list for causing greenhouse-gas emissions. And anyone who follows the news knows that slaughterhouses across the nation repeatedly violate the federal Humane Slaughter Act. These and many other facts show why a meatless diet is something that everyone should embrace. Please visit for more information.


Dan Mathews
Senior Vice President

(Read the full press release at

A letter from Roy Brown

Roy Brown’s campaign sent us this letter regarding recent allegations that he is a vegetarian:

“As many of you have most likely heard, the governor and his political thugs have attempted to mislead those in the livestock community to believe that I do not support ranchers with my political policy or with my diet. Both allegations are completely false. I am disgusted that anyone would attempt to manipulate any sector of our community with such lies. I am not, nor have I ever been a vegetarian, and I believe allegations that one’s personal eating habits would have a direct effect on their political policy to be ridiculous and the signature of a desperate and petty campaign. It is an obvious attempt to turn your attention from his own failed leadership on issues that have impacted agriculture in Montana.

I find it despicable that my opponent would attempt to turn attention to such a ludicrous allegation in an effort to duck responsibility for failing to protect Montana’s ranchers from brucellosis and out of embarrassment of his own efforts to hand over control of Montana’s waters to the federal government.

You’ll recall that when news of the last positive test for brucellosis came out, the Governor pointed fingers, and attacked the Montana Stockgrowers Association as the ones to blame. Even today, Governor Schweitzer refuses to consider any idea or solution to the brucellosis problem other than his own. Montana ranchers have paid for his ignorance. Instead of working towards eradication of the disease and protecting your best interest, he has unrelentingly pushed through a plan that will segregate and sacrifice portions of our ranching community. As Montana’s next Governor you can rest assured that I will focused renewed efforts on eradication of the disease and proper management of bison and elk until our brucellosis-free status is restored.

I was equally disgusted with the Governor’s support of the Clean Water Restoration Act, voluntarily cowering to the federal government and surrendering all control of our water rights. Despite his unwillingness to admit the true intention of this legislation, Schweitzer testified for Congress in support of the law that would strip us of every water way from lakes and rivers to creeks, irrigation ditches and stock ponds. He has put our ability to manage our own waters on the chopping block in what can only be seen as an attempt to further his time in the national spotlight. I believe that Montanans who have been stewards of our land and water for generations, are best equipped to continue to manage our waters, not federal bureaucrats.

While it has become obvious that my opponent does not hold himself or his political allies to the same standards of accuracy and integrity that I hold myself and my campaign to, I urge all of you to take a scrutinizing look at the information you will be bombarded with. My commitment to the agriculture industry and all Montanans has never wavered. It is important that we do not allow the governor to brush his failed leadership on brucellosis and our water rights under the rug. His ignorance of these issues corresponds to his ignorance of our needs and expectations. His continued failure must end in November. Together we will end this crude, deceitful, manipulative methodology that is steering Montana in the wrong direction.”

U.S. Department of Justice approves JBS merger with Smithfield and blocks merger with National Beef

by Errol Rice, MSGA Executive Vice President

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil antitrust lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court in Chicago to block the proposed merger of JBS Swift and National Beef Packing Company LLC. Montana’s Attorney General Mike McGrath is joining the Department’s lawsuit. The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is uncertain as to who requested McGrath to join the case. (more…)

DOL to hold town meetings for draft Brucellosis Action Plan

The Montana Department of Livestock has scheduled a series of meetings to discuss its draft brucellosis action plan, which is open for public comment through November 1.

Meetings will be held: (more…)

Montana Public Lands Council Update

by Jay Bodner, MSGA Natural Resource Director

Due to your support, the Montana Public Lands Council (MPLC) has been active this past year defending your grazing rights on federal lands. It is only through your valuable contributions that our organization has been successful at protecting your rights at the state and national levels.

This summer, MPLC collected and submitted data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent sage grouse from being listed under the Endangered Species Act and intervened in the lawsuit trying to overturn the delisting of the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone area. (more…)

Come see us at the NILE!

MSGA will be at the NILE this week! We have a lot of great things going on:

We will have a booth at the trade show Wednesday through Saturday. Stop by to join, renew your membership or just visit! We will also be selling raffle tickets for a 3 day/3 night package for this year’s NFR. The package includes hotel, tickets to the rodeo and $500 for travel. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100. Proceeds will go to MSGA’s Advocacy Fund for the upcoming Legislative Session. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18. If you can’t make it to the NILE but would still like to purchase tickets, please call MSGA at (406) 442-3420. Don’t miss your chance for this great package generously donated by our friends from Fort Dodge Animal Health!