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.


The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is excited to announce the third year of a leadership program for young leaders in the ranching industry. The Stockgrowers Leadership Series is designed to provide training and skills to future leaders of Montana’s ranching communities. The 16-month class kicks off in January 2018 in Helena. Applications are due November 20.

“We are excited to continue and expand the Leadership Series,” says Errol Rice, MSGA Executive Vice President. “Investing in leadership is a core strategy of MSGA’s long-range plan and our industry’s success will rely on our ability to develop a pipeline of leaders who are disciplined, well trained and inspired by the future of ranching.”

The Leadership Series is a 16-month program where participants will take part in a number of workshops and sessions exposing them to different aspects of the ranching business today. These topics include policy work, banking and finance, management, business relationships, awareness of industry topics, media training, and beef consumer concerns.

Program participants will also work with a designated leadership coach to build upon their strengths and skills. Sarah Bohnenkamp, former Executive Director for the Denver based, American National CattleWomen, will coach the class in a series of workshops, webinars and at-home tasks throughout the year. Bohnenkamp has more than 14 years’ experience with leadership development and is familiar with topics faced by the ranching industry, having trained youth for the National Beef Ambassador program for many years.

The Leadership Series class will meet in several locations across Montana over the course of 16 months. Sessions will allow participants to travel on a summer ranch tour, network with industry leaders, gain valuable skills for their careers and be given further opportunities to be engaged in leadership positions upon completion of the course.

Applicants for the Stockgrowers Leadership Series should be between the ages of 25 and 40, be involved in the Montana ranching industry and have a strong interest in improving their leadership and business skills.

For more information, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420 or email Kori Anderson at Applications are available at All submissions should be postmarked no later than November 20, 2017.


The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Applications Now Open for Ten $1,500 CME Beef Industry Scholarship

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for 2018-2019 beef industry scholarships sponsored by CME Group and administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF). Ten scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded to outstanding students pursuing careers in the beef industry, and one student—the overall essay winner—will receive a trip to the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix, Ariz.

“The CME Beef Industry Scholarship represents an investment in the future of the cattle industry, and is an outgrowth of nearly three decades of partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and NCBA,” said Tim Andriesen, managing director of agricultural products for CME Group. “By helping the next generation of cattlemen and women further their education, CME Group is helping to advance the future of the U.S. agricultural economy. Participating in this scholarship enables us to further underscore the importance of risk management to the beef industry while contributing to the education of tomorrow’s industry leaders.”

The CME Beef Industry Scholarship was first introduced in 1989 in partnership with CME Group. Today, the scholarship recognizes and encourages talented students who will each play an important role in the future of food production in America. Students studying education, communication, production, research or other areas related to the beef industry should consider applying for the scholarship.

Applicants for the 2018-2019 scholarship must submit a one-page letter expressing their career goals related to the beef industry. Students must also write a 750-word essay describing an issue in the beef industry and offering solutions to this problem. Applicants must be a graduating high school senior or full-time undergraduate student enrolled at a two- or four-year college.

The 2017-2018 CME Beef Industry Scholarship overall essay winner was Taylre Sitz a student at Montana State University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science, as well as a minor in Business Administration.

“Growing up on a ranch, I developed a commitment to the beef industry at an early age,” Sitz said. “I am interested in becoming a large animal veterinarian, and through ranch life, I have been able to see and visit as they doctored cut horses or lame cattle. These experiences only furthered my desire to pursue the large animal veterinary career.”

Online applications should be submitted by Nov. 15, 2017. To apply, or learn more about the scholarship, click here. Scholarship winners will be announced during the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show.

For more information visit

Rancher to Congress: “Japan and Asia-Pacific Markets Vital for U.S. Beef”

Today Kelley Sullivan, NCBA member and rancher from Santa Rosa Ranch in Crockett, Texas, testified at a hearing on Capitol Hill about the importance of expanding export opportunities for U.S. beef in Asia. Held by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, the hearing asked witnesses for their perspectives on specific actions needed to deepen trade relationships with fast-growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ms. Sullivan’s remarks focused on the benefits of trade agreements for U.S. beef producers. She urged Congress and the Administration to protect current agreements, such as the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and move quickly to strike a bilateral deal with Japan.

“Today, the success or failure of the U.S. beef industry depends on our level of access to global consumers,” she said. “We are extremely concerned that prolonged NAFTA negotiations and withdrawal/modifications to KORUS will pose unnecessary setbacks for the U.S. beef industry. Our ardent desire is for U.S. negotiators to focus on securing new market access for U.S. beef exports, starting with making up the ground we lost [in Japan] by walking away from TPP.”

Ms. Sullivan explained how selling to global markets allows U.S. beef producers to generate more value. Many of the beef cuts that Americans find less desirable command higher prices in foreign markets where consumers have different tastes.

“Trade allows us to capitalize on differences in consumer preferences,” she said. “Exports are critical to U.S. beef producers – and the rural economies that depend on them – because they allow us to maximize the value of each carcass.”

Ms. Sullivan also thanked the Trump Administration for restoring access for U.S. beef in China, noting U.S. Meat Export Federation estimates that U.S. beef sales to China will reach $300 million annually in the first five years.

Montana FSA: Low interest emergency physical loss loans available for two counties

BOZEMAN, Mont. – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Steven J. Peterson announced that physical loss loans are available for two counties in Montana. Farm operators who have suffered major physical losses caused by multiple wildfires that occurred on July 15, 2017, and continuing, may be eligible for emergency loans.

This Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification has been issued for Mineral and Missoula counties as the primary damaged area.

Additionally, six Montana counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for programs based on this designation. The contiguous counties are: Flathead, Granite, Lake, Powell, Ravalli and Sanders.

Producers in Clearwater, Idaho and Shoshone counties in Idaho are also eligible because they are contiguous counties.

FSA’s low interest emergency loans may be made available to any applicant with a qualifying loss in the counties named above. Approval is limited to applicants who suffered severe physical losses only.

Physical loss loans may be made to eligible farmers and ranchers to repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property essential to the success of the agriculture operation, including livestock losses. Examples of property commonly affected include essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops and hay.

Producers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans for physical losses.

Please contact FSA for more information on loan eligibility and the application process. FSA office information is available at Additional FSA disaster assistance program information is available at

Montana Beef Council provides many benefits

Written by Kristin Larson

My last couple articles were about the timeline and planning process of the $.50 of the dollar checkoff that goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for national contractors to contract for beef promotion, education, research and producer communication.  

The other $.50 for many states stays in the state it was collected in with their qualified state beef council. Montana is one of these states. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana Beef industry. It is one of 45 state beef councils.

A 12-member board of directors guides the Montana Beef Council. Council members are appointed or elected by membership organizations as follows: Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana CattleWomen, Livestock Auction Markets, Cattle Feeders, Meat Packer/Processor, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Retailer, Dairymen, and Montana Angus Association.

I firmly believe it is important to have this grassroots board and allow Montana producers the voice to determine how their beef checkoff dollars are spent.Whenever you have grassroots input there is ownership and follow through, both extremely important factors for a program to be successful.

Our annual meeting is in September.  Contractors from across the state request checkoff dollars for projects. The board is split into committees that hear these proposals.  The committee discusses if each authorization request meets the criteria of the Act & Order and the Montana Beef Council’s mission statement.

The Montana Beef Council is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international consumer marketing programs (promotion, education, and research) thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Each committee decides to fund the proposals and at which level. Then the budget committee puts it all together along with in-house staff projects and brings a balanced budget to the board to discuss and approve.  This is the start of the next fiscal year and the projects they will see develop with the intent to build beef demand, educate our consumers and medical influencers, and communicate with producers about how their checkoff dollars are at work for them every day.

I know in the country there is confusion about the “Federation”.  Many think it is NCBA.  The Federation of State Beef Councils is simply a structured voice for ALL state checkoffs. The Federation does operate under the NCBA umbrella. The Federation has evolved over a number of years and provides not only efficiency in overhead costs but also provides consistent information and resources for state beef councils to utilize for design services, website creation, issues management and so much more.  The Federation also gives state producers a voice on the national level of how our beef checkoff dollars are spent.

Montana is a cow rich, people poor state so it makes sense to spend some of our dollars in other more populated areas where our dollars can be used more effectively.  That is not to say we don’t do some amazing projects and programs at the state level. We do!  We have a tremendous staff in place, who works on our behalf every day that are just as passionate about the beef industry as we are!

This being said, it was hard to do a budget this year with the uncertainty the injunction brings.  For more than 60 years, the Montana Beef Council has been building relationships and working to build beef demand.  As a producer, I ask you to please sign the consent form and continue to give Montana producers a voice and program direction of our checkoff. I believe in the value of the checkoff program and have seen so many positive things come from checkoff work it still

One of the things that excites me is this new promotional ad that is on the Beef It’s What’s For Dinner website and will be used in other areas too.  Please go listen today.  I think it will excite you too about what the checkoff is doing and working on and go sign the consent form and turn it in today!

Sign your affidavit today to retain local control over your Beef Checkoff.

USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments

Total Exceeds $9.6 Billion

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that over $9.6 billion in payments will be made, beginning this week, to producers through the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve (CRP) programs.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing approximately $8 billion in payments under the ARC and PLC programs for the 2016 crop year, and $1.6 billion under CRP for 2017.

“Many of these payments will be made to landowners and producers in rural communities that have recently been ravaged by drought, wildfires, and deadly hurricanes,” Perdue said.  “I am hopeful this financial assistance will help those experiencing losses with immediate cash flow needs as we head toward the end of the year.”

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in revenue or prices for covered commodities. Over half a million producers will receive ARC payments and over a quarter million producers will receive PLC payments for 2016 crops, starting this week and continuing over the next several months.

Payments are being made to producers who enrolled base acres of barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, wheat, and canola. In the upcoming months, payments will be announced after marketing year average prices are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for the remaining covered commodities. Those include long and medium grain rice (except for temperate Japonica rice), which will be announced in November; remaining oilseeds and chickpeas, which will be announced in December; and temperate Japonica rice, which will be announced in early February 2017.  The estimated payments are before application of sequestration and other reductions and limits, including adjusted gross income limits and payment limitations.

Also, as part of an ongoing effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat, USDA will begin issuing 2017 CRP payments this week to over 375,000 Americans.

“American farmers and ranchers are among our most committed conservationists,” said Perdue. “We all share a responsibility to leave the land in better shape than we found it for the benefit of the next generation of farmers. This program helps landowners provide responsible stewardship on land that should be taken out of production.”

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation program in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers and landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation, provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Participants enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP payments are made to participants who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.

For more details regarding ARC and PLC programs, go to For more information about CRP, contact your local FSA office or visit To locate your local FSA office, visit

DNRC cuts interest rate on rangeland improvement loans

HELENA, Mont. – Montana ranchers considering rangeland improvement projects received a boost this month when the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) reduced interest rates for Rangeland Improvement Loans from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.    

“It’s been a challenging summer for our farmers and ranchers,” said Stacey Barta, Rangeland Resources Program Coordinator with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). “The state’s Rangeland Resources Executive Committee requested the interest rate reduction to support producers dealing with the impacts of wildfires and drought.”

Started in 1979, the low-interest loan program provides added incentives for producers to undertake rangeland improvement and development projects. Water storage, fencing, and stock water tanks are a few of the more common improvements. In addition to benefits for the ranch operation, Barta said the projects often improve streams and riparian areas and rangeland health, which in turn benefit wildlife, combat invasive weeds and reduce soil erosion.

The maximum loan amount is $75,000, with repayment scheduled for a maximum of ten years with annual installments. Producers apply to their local Conservation District; the application is then reviewed by DNRC.

For more details, contact Bill Herbolich with DNRC at (406) 444-6668, or visit

Senate Confirms Censky and McKinney for USDA

By  Jerry Hagstrom, DTN Political Correspondent

The Senate late Tuesday confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominations of Stephen Censky as Agriculture deputy secretary and Ted McKinney as Agriculture undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

Censky has been the CEO of American Soybean Association in St. Louis and McKinney has been the Indiana agriculture director.

Until now Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been the only Senate-confirmed political appointee at the Agriculture Department, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in a news release he was pleased to provide Perdue some help.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Senate was able to work in a bipartisan and swift manner to confirm Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney,” Roberts said. “Secretary Perdue, help is on the way.”

Perdue commended the Senate for confirming Censky and McKinney, and said they will provide “the steady leadership we need at USDA.”

“Steve Censky will help us be responsive to producers reeling from the effects of multiple hurricanes and also offer prudent counsel as Congress continues work on the 2018 farm bill,” Perdue said.

“Ted McKinney will take charge of the newly-created mission area focused on trade, and wake up every morning seeking to sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets,” Perdue said.

“We eagerly await their arrival at USDA, and urge the Senate to continue to act on other nominees who are awaiting confirmation.”

The National Biodiesel Board was the first farm group to issue congratulations to Censky, noting that the American Soybean Association is a member of the National Biodiesel Board.

“Congratulations to Steve on his confirmation to be deputy secretary of agriculture,” said Donnell Rehagen, chief executive officer at the National Biodiesel Board.

“Steve’s decades of experience in soybeans and biodiesel will serve the agency well. He’s a proven, successful executive, known for providing a clear vision for the agricultural industry and being a tireless advocate for America’s farmers. We wish him the best in this new endeavor.”

A hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee is set for Thursday for the nominations of Greg Ibach and Bill Northey and their respective undersecretary positions at USDA.

Nitrate Toxicity in Beef Cattle

Written by Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Montana State University

Elevated nitrate concentrations can be found in forages that have been grown under stress, such as severe drought conditions.  Nitrate toxicity is caused by animal consuming feeds and water that have elevated levels of nitrate or nitrite.  Care should be taken when feeding cattle cereal grains/hay, corn stalks, orchardgrass, and other feeds known to contain high nitrate levels.

Nitrate is not toxic to animals unless consumed in excessive levels.  When nitrate is consumed in excessive levels, nitrite poisoning can occur.  Normally, forage nitrate is broken down in the rumen to nitrite by microbes, and then to ammonia.  The ammonia is used by rumen microbes for protein.  However, when nitrate is consumed in elevated levels, nitrite accumulates within the rumen faster than it can be converted to ammonia.  The nitrite then enters the small intestine and is absorbed into the bloodstream.  The high levels of nitrite in the bloodstream convert hemoglobin to methemoglobin, which cannot carry oxygen, ultimately limiting the body’s oxygen supply.

Acute nitrite poisoning is caused by animals consuming a large amount of high nitrate forage over a short period of time.  Chronic nitrite poisoning occurs when animals consume small amounts of high nitrate forage over a long period of time.  Chronic nitrate poisoning is only treated by eliminating the consumption of the high nitrate feed or by diluting the high nitrate feed with low nitrate feeds.  Acute nitrite poisoning can occur rapidly after consuming high nitrate feeds, in these severe cases, an immediate intravenous injection of methylene blue by a veterinarian may save the affected animal.  However, due to the rapid onset of acute poisoning, treatment may not be the best option.

Testing forages to ensure safe levels of nitrates (Table 1) is the most effective way to minimize the potential of nitrite poisoning in livestock.

Table 1. Effect of nitrate concentration on livestock (100% DM basis).
NO3 – N (ppm) NO3 (ppm) Comments
<350 <1,500 Generally safe
350-1,130 1,500-5,000 Generally safe for nonpregnant livestock. Potential for early-term abortions or decreased breeding performance. Limit feed to 50% of ration for pregnant animals.
1,130-2,260 5,000-10,000 Limit feed to 25-50% of ration for nonpregnant animals.  DO NOT FEED TO PREGNANT ANIMALS.
>2,260 >10,000 DO NOT FEED.
Hibbard et al., 1998
0.1% NO3-N = 0.44% NO3 (0.1 x 4.4)
0.44% NO3 = 0.1% NO3-N (0.44 x 0.23)
0.1% = 1000 ppm


Diluting high nitrate feeds with low nitrate feeds can reduce the potential for nitrite poisoning by using the following equation (Glunk et al., 2015; MT200205AG):

WL = (WH)*(%H – %B) / (%B – %L)

WL = weight of low nitrate hay required

WH = weight of high nitrate hay

%H = nitrate concentration of high nitrate hay

%B = nitrate concentration needed in final blend

%L = nitrate concentration of low nitrate hay


For nitrate testing, contact your local extension agent.  You can also find additional information in the MontGuide, “Nitrate Toxicity of Montana Forages.”