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.
A new generation of consumers is getting to know beef through the new beef checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. campaign, launched in October. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its introduction, the iconic brand has been refreshed, celebrating its reintroduction to a variety of today’s consumers, channel partners and food influencers.
State beef councils are beginning to extend the campaign’s content and features, educating and exciting their states’ consumers about the many benefits beef provides to their lives.
Of special interest to state councils has been the campaign’s “Rethink the Ranch” anthem video and related video spots, showcasing real, hard-working farmers and ranchers from around the country. Nationally, the videos have generated more than 765,000 video views to date, and reached more than 3.5 million consumers. State beef councils have downloaded various Rethink the Ranch content for use on their own social media properties and through other consumer and thought leader outreach.
“Our state and national partnership is particularly valuable to Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., as the campaign showcases the people behind beef as well as beef’s powerful nutrition story,” according to Alisa Harrison, senior vice president for Global Marketing and Research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “Our team travelled across the United States to capture and develop the most factual and thoughtful stories about how today’s beef is brought from the cattle raiser to the dinner table. Together with the information about the high-quality beef being delivered, it’s a message that’s compelling to consumers today.”
Councils in several states, including Kansas and Missouri, will be promoting the Rethink the Ranch anthem video in a YouTube campaign launching mid-January. The Ohio Beef Council is producing its own video series to bring to life local producer stories, and is using the familiar sound of Copland’s Rodeo music and the new Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo in its own state materials.
Nationally, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. team has reached more than 20 million people in the first quarter of this fiscal year (starting Oct. 1) with positive messaging about beef. Overall, more than 2 million people visited the BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com website from Oct. 3 to Dec. 18, 2017. The team has successfully driven web traffic to the Raising Beef section of the website to encourage visitors to view the Rethink the Ranch videos, with almost 400,000 page views since the launch. Those people stayed on website pages 42 percent longer (compared to 2016), and the Raising Beef section – core content for the relaunch campaign – became the second top viewed section of the site, right after the recipes.
Retailers, foodservice operators and other beef marketers are also being engaged and encouraged to learn more about beef and feature it more often through one-on-one outreach and through a LinkedIn campaign, which targeted business decision-makers. Major media outreach has resulted in more than 30 million impressions for the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. relaunch, including a major story in the Wall Street Journal online and print editions.
The effort is also reaching out to food and health influencers, such as registered dietitians, bloggers and doctors, to share the positive information about the brand and website. More than 36,000 health professionals have been reached through outlets such as Nutrition 411, a popular e-newsletter for dietitians.
“Teamwork has always been an element of pride for the cattle and beef industry,” said Harrison. “With this campaign, we’re able to celebrate and capitalize on our state and national partnership and make the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand as broad, extensive and cost-effective as possible.”
The Federation of State Beef Councils is a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The Beef Checkoff Program is administered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A series of soil health workshops aimed at helping Montana producers learn new strategies and techniques for improving soil health on their land will be held across the state January 16-19, 2018. Attendees will learn how to add biological inputs to their operations to increase yield, decrease chemical inputs, and improve the resilience and health of their soils. Practices such as no-till (including potato and beet rotations), intensive grazing, diverse rotations, cover crops, and more will be discussed in the context of actual working farms and ranches.
The practice of improving soil health on farms and ranches is a movement that is sweeping across the nation. These workshops will introduce soil health principles for producers both large and small who are interested in improving the soil health on their land. The workshops will also talk about practical ways to implement soil health practices effectively, and how improving soil health can ultimately increase production and bottom lines.
Workshop dates: (Click on the speaker’s name for their bio)
|1/16||Three Forks||The Gathering Place||Brendon Rockey and Steve Kenyon|
|1/17||Great Falls||Holiday Inn||Brendon Rockey and Wendy Taheri|
|1/18||Billings||Big Horn Resort||Brendon Rockey and Steve Kenyon|
|1/19||Miles City||Sleep Inn||Steve Kenyon and Wendy Taheri|
|1/19||Sidney||Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center||Brendon Rockey and Derek Axten|
These workshops are presented by Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, NRCS, and Montana Soil & Water Conservation Society.
Those interested in attending should register in advance at swcdm.org/soil-health. Workshops are $15 online through January 8, and $20 at the door. Doors open at 8am, and workshops begin at 9am and end in the mid afternoon. Contact Ann McCauley, 406-443-5711, with questions or to inquire about sponsor and vendor opportunities.
The Public Lands Council (PLC) today opened applications for the Nick Theos Scholarship Program, offering qualified college students a unique opportunity to attend the PLC 2018 Spring Legislative Conference April 10 – 12 in Washington, D.C.
Selected scholarship recipients will join conference attendees as they meet with members of Congress, federal government agency officials, and leading policy influencers to communicate policy priorities of the public land ranching industry.
Two Nick Theos scholarships are available for 2018. The scholarships include a $250 stipend, hotel accommodations, and complimentary conference registration. While PLC is unable to pay for travel in full, additional sponsorships to help cover travel costs are encouraged.
Nick Theos, a founding member of PLC and lifetime supporter of the livestock industry, passed away on April 11th, 2013, at the age of 92. The scholarship was created by the Theos family to encourage the next generation to engage in the policy issues facing public lands ranching.
Interested students should complete an online application by February 9, 2018. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in public lands ranching.
Questions may be directed to Allie Nelson, 406-231-3328, email@example.com.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of 27 members to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. Two Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) members were among the appointees. Turk Stovall of Billings, Mont. and Katie Cooper of Willow Creek, Mont. will serve three-year terms on the Board.
“We are thrilled to have Turk and Katie represent Montana on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board,” said Errol Rice Executive Vice President of MSGA, “They are proven leaders in Montana and will be excellent advocates for the Beef Checkoff at the national level.”
Stovall and Cooper will be joining MSGA member, Lynda Grande of Columbus, Mont. who is currently serving a three-year term.
The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board is composed of 99 members, all of whom are beef producers or importers of cattle, beef or beef products. The board is authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently recognized Connie Townsend of White Sulphur Springs, Mont. as “Ranching Woman of the Year”. The announcement was made Wednesday, December 13 during the 133rd MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings.
Connie (Niebel) Townsend grew up on the family farm and ranch in Four Corners. After attending school in Bozeman, she graduated from Montana State University with a degree in Home Economics.
She married Herb Townsend in 1954 and they made their home in White Sulphur Springs, where Herb was the County Extension Agent. There they raised three children: Tod, Trent, and Teri on the family ranch. She now enjoys the title of grandmother and great-grandmother.
Connie worked for the Beef Checkoff for eleven years; she was part of the Nutrition Coalition where she was instrumental in the introduction of serving breakfast in public schools through the state. She served as Chairwoman of the Agriculture in Montana Schools Foundation which today give Montana students a greater awareness of the contribution of agriculture to their lives and their community.
Connie remains active in Townsend Ranch and within the community. She is a member of the Hobby Club, helps at the Food Bank and is very active in her local church. Congratulations to Connie Townsend, an advocate of agriculture, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife, and friend!
The Ranching Woman of the Year award is an annual honor presented during MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show. Contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 to find out how you can nominate someone for next year’s recognition. To learn about previous honorees, visit mtbeef.org/ranching-woman.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing 1,500 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.
Keith Bales was the lucky winner of a 2017 Ford Super Duty pickup given away by Montana Ford Stores and Montana Stockgrowers Association at the 133rd Annual MSGA Convention and Trade Show.
Keith and his wife, Christl, ranch near Otter, Mont. and have been long-time members of the association. Each year Montana Ford Stores donates a new Ford pickup to be given away to one lucky MSGA member attending the Annual Convention and Trade Show. This year, Congressman Greg Gianforte was on hand to draw the winning ticket!
“The winning partnership with Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Ford Stores continues to grow and prosper,” according to MSGA President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon. “We can’t thank the Montana Ford Stores enough for their continued support.”
2017 was the ninth year of partnership between MSGA and Montana Ford Stores. MSGA Rancher, Feeder, Stocker and Young Stockgrower members are eligible to win the truck. An entry form must be completed and the member must be present at Annual Convention when the truck is given away.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association meets annually to discuss and vote on policy that guides the Association activity representing its members. To learn more about MSGA programs and membership, visit mtbeef.org or contact the office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.
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.
Funding is available in three focus areas, including grazing lands, organic systems and soil health
BOZEMAN, Mont., Dec. 18, 2017 – USDA is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS ) plans to invest $10 million in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, organic systems and soil health. Grant proposals are due Feb. 26, 2018.
“Conservation Innovation Grants play a critical role in developing and implementing new methods to help our customers across the country and here in Montana conserve natural resources, strengthen their local communities, and improve their bottom lines,” said Tom Hedt, NRCS state conservationist in Montana. “Today’s announcement supports our efforts to help producers build economically-strong and resilient farms and ranches by providing producers tools to utilize across their working farmlands.”
The NRCS uses CIG to work with partners to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches that address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns. This year, NRCS is focusing funding in these areas:
- Grazing Lands: Helping livestock producers make grazing management decisions, encouraging prescribed burning as a grazing management practice, and improving access to conservation planning tools used for developing grazing management plans.
- Organic Agriculture Systems: Helping organic producers develop innovative cropping and tillage systems, edge-of-field monitoring, crop rotations, and intercropping systems.
- Soil Health: Supporting both cropping and grazing systems, in a variety of climatic zones, that incorporate soil health management systems for addressing specific resource concerns like nutrients and availability. Evaluating multiple soil health assessment methods to assist in the development of new soil health indicators and thresholds.
“Every sector of American agriculture has its unique conservation challenges,” said Hedt. “CIG enables USDA to help support new, innovative tools and techniques which have helped U.S. agriculture become the powerhouse we see today, leading the world in both production efficiency and conservation delivery. We encourage groups and individuals in Montana to take advantage of this grant opportunity.”
Potential applicants should review the announcement of program funding available at www.grants.gov, which includes application materials and submission procedures. All U.S.-based entities and individuals are invited to apply, with the sole exception of Federal agencies. Up to 20 percent of CIG funds will be set aside for proposals from historically underserved producers, veteran farmers or ranchers or groups serving these customers.
NRCS is hosting a webinar for potential CIG applicants on Jan. 11, 2018, at 4 p.m. Eastern. Information on how to join the webinar can be found on the NRCS CIG webpage.
CIG is authorized and funded under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Projects can last up to three years. The maximum award amount for any project this year is $2 million.
Since 2004, NRCS has invested nearly $286.7 million in more than 700 projects focused on providing farmers and ranchers new techniques, data and decision-making tools for improving natural resources conservation on their land.
Townsend ranching family honored with 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award for influential results in caring for water, wildlife, soil and ranching business.
The Hahn Ranch was honored as the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award winners Dec. 13 at the Montana Stockgrowers’ Annual Convention in Billings. The award recognizes cattle ranchers who are exemplary stewards of the land, livestock, wildlife and natural resources.
The family has been ranching in the Missouri River Valley near Townsend for more than 100 years, working to preserve and enhance their natural resources for generations to come. Chuck Hahn, Dusty Hahn and Cory and Jennilee Bird accepted the award on behalf of the family ranch.
The ranch was nominated for the award by collaborators with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) for their partnership on projects that have benefited fisheries and water quality on the ranch and for downstream users. But their conservation practices expand far beyond the creek beds of their southwestern Montana ranch.
Ron Spoon, a FWP fish biologist, has worked with the Hahn family since 1990.
“I believe Chuck and his family provide a valuable example of how a long-term ranching operation can simultaneously create agricultural products and foster clean water,” Spoon says. “Folks that collaborate with Chuck will know that he thoroughly protects the function of the ranching operation, but they know he genuinely pushes for solutions that benefit resources beyond the ranch.”
In addition to cattle, the diverse family ranch supports hay, small grains and forage crop farming, a trucking company and a pheasant hunting enterprise. The multi-generational ranch includes Chuck, his sons Dusty and Buck Hahn, his brother John Hahn, sister Bev Bird and her son Cory and wife Jennilee and matriarch Dorothy Hahn.
For nearly 30 years, the Hahn family has worked cooperatively with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Broadwater Conservation District (BCD), the Broadwater-Missouri Water Users Association (BMWUA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC), Montana Ditch, and Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on restoration and conservation efforts on Deep Creek.
Between 1,000 and 3,000 Brown Trout annually migrate out of Deep Creek into the Missouri River. The Deep Creek waterway also provides irrigation and stock water on the Hahn Ranch. The family played a pivotal role in the installation of the Montana Ditch siphon, which ensured Deep Creek’s function as a free-flowing, connected nursery and cold water refuge in this blue ribbon fishery.
They’ve continued to work collectively with neighboring landowners and agencies to improve riparian health on the creek, conserve water use while protecting their agricultural production and show marked improvements in stream flow and water temperatures over the past two and a half decades.
“Water is one of the most precious resources, especially in the West,” Dusty Hahn says. “So anything that we can do to conserve and enhance that resource, we’re interested in. It helps everybody along the watershed of the Missouri and ultimately that drains into the Mississippi, and that’s important for us as agriculturalists.”
They’ve also prioritized preserving open spaces on their western landscape.
In 1998, the ranch enrolled in Broadwater County’s first conservation easement with the FWP to maintain 1,680 acres for agricultural purposes in perpetuity. The land sits next to the nationally unique Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit and now provides a critical link between blocks of federal land to prevent further urban development.
“If we’re not able to have a viable land base for livestock grazing, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of these arid landscapes being put into development,” Chuck says. “So the easement keeps those areas open and it gives us a chance to continue grazing.”
The easement allowed the ranch to expand a more efficient rest-rotational grazing system between their private and publicly leased ground, while also providing financial flexibility for expansion to make room for more family members on the ranch.
Their grazing plans on public and private lands are designed to benefit wildlife habitat and sustain their livestock, which work symbiotically to improve the health of the rangeland.
“This wide diversity of wildlife indicates how well the land and vegetative communities occurring on the Hahn Ranch are being managed as a whole,” FWP Conservation Technician Fred Jakubowski said.
The family also manages their farmland to simultaneously benefit their business, the livestock and wildlife. Growing both cash crops and forage crops extends their grazing season, allows for longer rest periods on the rangeland and improves organic matter and biodiversity in farmed soil. Incorporating cattle into the cropping system is essential to its success.
“By using cover crops and the no-till to enhance the soil health, we’re able to keep the soil organisms alive as long as we can during the year,” Chuck Hahn says. “The livestock are there to help incorporate that plant mass back into the soil.”
As recipient of this year’s award, the Hahn Ranch will be nominated for the regional ESAP award, which will be announced at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association summer conference in July 2018. The award is sponsored in a partnership between the Montana Stockgrowers’ Foundation, the Montana Beef Council and beef producers with Check-off dollars, and the World Wildlife Fund.
“Without conservation, we would not be here today,” Chuck says. “Our livelihood depends on the soil, it depends on the ranges, it depends on our livestock. It’s all a part of our life; it’s a part of what makes our living as well. And it’s what makes us happy.”
Since its inception in 1991, the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) has honored ranchers across the United States who implement practices the positively impact their land, livestock, wildlife, water and the ecological landscape as a whole.
Editor’s note: Word count = 921. Photographs of Chuck Hahn, Dusty Hahn and the Hahn family are below. Additional images of the ranch and images of conservation practices are available on request.
CONSERVATION ON THE HAHN RANCH // BY THE NUMBERS:
- The Hahn Ranch has enrolled 1,685 acres in the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Block Management Program annually since 1996. Each year, roughly 900 hunter days are recorded on the Hahn Ranch.
- The family enrolled 1,680 acres of their ranch in Broadwater County’s first conservation easement, providing a critical link between blocks of BLM and Forest Service lands to prevent urban development, establish a more efficient rest rotation grazing system and provide public/private land access.
- Following the installation of the Broadwater-Missouri Canal siphon in 1991, Brown Trout spawning has increased significantly. In 1991, less than 10 Deep Creek brown trout spawning redds were located in certain locations along the creek. In 2016, one location on the Hahn Ranch noted as many as 75 redds.
- Streamflow has tripled in a commonly dewatered reach of Deep Creek following 2012 irrigation projects that included the relocation of irrigation diversion and pumping system.
- All streams naturally increase in water temperature as water travels downstream. While Deep Creek used to warm up by 8 degrees Fahrenheit in the lower 13 miles of stream, but now warms by 2.5 degrees as a result of changes with irrigation practices.
- With the use of no-till farming methods and the incorporation of forage crop and livestock on their farm ground, organic matter in their farmed soil has moved from an average of three percent to closer to five percent. According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, native grassland range in the state is typically comprised of about four percent organic matter.
Extension economists George Haynes, Kate Fuller and Joel Schumacher will lead the workshops. Other contributing faculty members will include Anton Bekkerman, Joseph Janzen, Gary Brester and Eric Belasco, agricultural economists; Marsha Goetting, family economist; Mary Burrows, plant pathologist; Kent McVay, cropping systems specialist; and Rachel Endecott, beef cattle specialist.
Workshops are scheduled for two days. Topics will include financial analysis and enterprise budgeting, risk management, marketing of grain and cattle, disaster assistance and tax considerations, agricultural policy issues, estate planning and crop and livestock production.
An optional pre-workshop course, introduction to Quicken, will be offered from noon to 5 p.m. the day before the farm management workshop in all locations. The number of participants is limited to 12 individuals for each of the introduction to Quicken courses.
The 2018 farm management workshop locations and dates are as follows:
Lewistown, Jan. 4-5, Yogo Inn, Snowy Room, 211 NE Main St.
Ronan, Feb. 8-9, Ronan Community Center, 300 3rd Ave.
Choteau, Feb. 13-14, Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. N.
Great Falls, Feb. 21-22, Cascade County Extension Office, 3300 3rd Street NE, #9
Glasgow, March 8-9, Cottonwood Inn and Suites, 54250 US Highway 2
Participation in this workshop will satisfy the requirements for Farm Service Agency production and financial management training.
There is no cost for the workshop or pre-workshop, but registration is required.