Tester Announces Assistance for Montana Counties Affected by Drought

Senator Secures Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers in Six Montana Counties

 

(U.S. Senate)– U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced that farmers and ranchers in six Montana counties would have access to drought assistance through U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster relief programs.

 

“Northeast Montana has been hammered by drought and I’m pleased this critical farm-saving relief is available to those who need it the most,” Tester said.  “I encourage all eligible Montana producers to contact their local FSA offices and apply for assistance.”

 

Farmers and ranchers affected by the drought are eligible to receive payments through the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program.  Payments are determined by the intensity and length of the drought for the impacted areas.

 

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Assistance is available for producers in Garfield, McCone, Daniels, Sheridan, Valley, and Roosevelt Counties.

 

Tester, the Senate’s only farmer, has held several farm bill listening sessions across the state.  Tester will be advocating for Montana priorities in the next farm bill, which comes up for reauthorization in 2018.

 

Last week, Tester sent a letter to USDA urging them to assist eastern Montana ranchers during this drought.

Injunction interrupts beef checkoff collection: Montana Beef Council will seek permission from payers

On May 2, 2016, a national organization, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Montana Great Falls Division, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, against Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). R-CALF alleges that the current administration of the federal Beef Checkoff Program in Montana violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by allowing Montana Beef Council (MBC) to use a portion of cattle producers’ assessments paid to the federal beef checkoff to fund promotional campaigns by the MBC, without first obtaining permission in advance from those producers. The Montana Beef Council is not a party in the lawsuit.

On June 21, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris granted R-CALF a preliminary injunction enjoining USDA from continuing to allow MBC to use the assessments that it is qualified to collect under the Beef Checkoff Program to fund its advertising campaigns, unless a cattle producer provides prior affirmative consent authorizing the MBC to retain a portion of the cattle producer’s assessment. As a result of this preliminary injunction, the MBC must begin forwarding all federal Beef Checkoff Program funds directly to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, absent proof that a producer has provided advance affirmative consent authorizing the MBC to retain a portion of that producer’s assessment.

The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry. It is one of 43 state beef councils. A 12-member board of directors’ guides the Montana Beef Council and those members are appointed or elected by membership organizations as follows: Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana CattleWomen, Montana Livestock Auction Market Association, Montana Cattle Feeder Association, Montana Meat Processors Association, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Dairymen, Montana Food Distributors Association and Montana Angus Association.

MBC is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state national and international consumer marketing programs thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers. This mission is accomplished through working with a variety of partners who utilize the funding to carry out beef promotion and education activities. Beef promotion partners have included the American Heart Association, Montana State University Bobcats, Montana BBQ Cook-off, Wentana, Wheat Montana and ZooMontana, to name a few.

MBC is working through the details to develop a process for this Court Order and a way for producers to provide consent.

By law, all producers selling cattle or calves, for any reason and regardless of age or sex, must pay $1-per-head to support beef promotion, research and information through the Beef Promotion and Research Act. Under the Act and the Order, the State Beef Council is legally responsible for collecting monthly assessments and collection of the assessment will continue in Montana.

As a result of the preliminary injunction, after assessments are collected from Montana beef producers, if they do not provide prior affirmative consent to the Montana Beef Council, their full assessment will be forwarded to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for general use on national programs and projects. MBC is working through the details to develop a process for this Court Order and a way for producers to provide consent. For further information, call the Montana Beef Council at (406) 656-3336 or email chaley@montanabeefcouncil.org.

USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing in Drought-Stricken Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota

 

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2017 – Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  All or parts of these states are experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions – indicated as categories D2 and D3 on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Due to reduced availability of forage, ranchers in the hardest hit locations have already been culling their herds,” said Perdue. “Without alternative forage options like grazing CRP lands, livestock producers are faced with the economically devastating potential of herd liquidation.”

CRP is a voluntary program administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land and, when needed, provide emergency relief to livestock producers suffering the impacts of certain natural disasters.

Emergency grazing is authorized to begin immediately and extends through Sept. 30, unless conditions improve.  Producers must work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a modified conservation plan that is site specific, including the authorized grazing duration to reflect local wildlife needs.  FSA State Committees will monitor emergency grazing implementation at the local level to mitigate the adverse impact on nesting areas and established CRP vegetation.

“If the drought continues and pasture recovery becomes less likely, feed supplies will decline, the quality and quantity of hay is reduced and stock water becomes scarce – considerable stressors for both the livestock and our producers,” said Perdue. “If opening up grazing lands reduces even some of these stressors for these ranchers, then it’s the right thing for us to do.”

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres grazed.

To take advantage of the emergency grazing provisions, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.  To find your local USDA Service Center visit http://offices.usda.gov.

 

Letter from Senator Jon Tester to Sonny Perdue

Letter from ND Senators & Congressman to Sonny Perdue

Letter from SD Senators to Sonny Perdue

 

MSGA Applauds News of USDA Halting Import of Fresh Brazilian Beef

Contact:  Kori Anderson
406.442.3420/406.214.5680
kori@mtbeef.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

MSGA Applauds News of USDA Halting Import of Fresh Brazilian Beef

The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauds the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today, to suspend all imports of fresh beef from Brazil due to safety concerns.

 

“We applaud the decision by USDA to put a ban on the import of Brazilian beef. International trade is an important aspect of our industry, but the safety of our nation’s food supply is imperative to both ranchers and consumers, said Errol Rice Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “We would like to thank Senator Jon Tester for taking the lead on this issue; as well as Secretary Sonny Perdue for taking swift action to initiate the ban.”

 

The USDA release can be found HERE.

 

 

Amid Tainted Beef Scandal, Tester Renews Call for Brazilian Beef Ban

Following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s removal of five Brazilian meat packing plants from its approved exporter list due to safety concerns, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is once again calling on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ban imports of Brazilian meat until safety concerns can be adequately addressed.

 “Our ranchers raise the best beef and pork products in the world,” Tester wrote.  “They adhere to extremely high safety standards and make extraordinary efforts to provide consumers with desirable and safe products.  I believe it is unwise to risk the public’s trust in domestic meat products by potentially allowing harmful imports to make it into our marketplace.”

 The Brazilian beef market was rocked by scandal in March as news reports confirmed that Brazilian meat packers were using a cancer-causing acid in their meat.  This led to several nations temporarily halting the importation of Brazilian meat.

 As a result, Tester immediately introduced a bill to ban Brazilian beef for 120 days until safety concerns could be addressed.

 Just last week, Tester questioned Secretary Perdue about the Department’s plan to inspect Brazilian beef.

 In 2015, Tester successfully blocked the importation of Brazilian beef from regions where foot-and-mouth disease was prevalent.

 Tester’s full letter to Secretary Perdue can be found HERE.

Montana Cattlewomen Award Scholarship for 55th Year

Third generation Kirby rancher selected as recipient of $1,000 scholarship

The 2017 Montana Cattlewomen’s Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to Peter Taylor, who has completed his first year at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana.  Peter is a third generation participant in his family’s ranching business near Kirby, MT.

Peter was one of five highly qualified applicants for the scholarship.

Peter earned his B.A. degree in Geology and Governmental Studies at Bowdoin College, graduating in 2000.  He returned to the ranch and has actively served on the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Board for several years.  It is that position which opened his eyes to the breadth of litigation facing farming and ranching in Montana and also renewed in him a desire to attend law school and take a more active role in defending our industry.

Peter is the son of Walter and Lila Taylor.  Peter and his wife Amanda have 3 young daughters.  He says that ranching is “in his blood”, and he looks forward to being a knowledgeable voice for ranching in the courtroom.

The Montana Cattlewomen’s Scholarship is in the amount of $1000 and is funded through memorials. This scholarship was established in 1963, which makes this the 55thconsecutive year it has been awarded to a worthy student.

As a voice for the producer, Peter will surely be an asset to the agriculture and livestock industry.  Congratulations, Peter.  The Montana Cattlewomen are proud to invest in you!

MSGA applauds news of U.S. Beef heading to China

The Montana Stockgrowers Association issued the following statement regarding the announcement that an agreement has been reached to begin shipping U.S. beef to China:

“Montana ranchers have been waiting for this day for thirteen years,” said Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President, Errol Rice. “Restored access to China’s 1.3 billion consumers will create an immense market potential for Montana ranchers.”

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is still evaluating the technical aspects of the agreement. Included below are USDA’s specific requirements for exports to China:

  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle that were born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S., cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the U.S., or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter;
  • Cattle must be traceable to the U.S. birth farm using a unique identifier, or if imported to the first place of residence or port of entry;
  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age;
  • Chilled or frozen bone-in and deboned beef products are eligible for shipment.  For a complete listing, refer to the FSIS Export Library; and
  • Carcasses, beef, and beef products must be uniquely identified and controlled up until the time of shipment.

 

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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.

MSU College of Ag seeks nominations for outstanding agricultural leader

The Montana State University College of Agriculture is seeking nominations for its outstanding agricultural leader award to honor during its 2017 Celebrate Agriculture event, set for Nov. 3-4 on the MSU campus.

The annual award honors those who have exhibited abundant leadership in Montana public service as an agricultural producer, industry advocate, agribusiness leader or as a friend of agriculture. The award is part of the college’s annual Celebrate Agriculture event, and awardees will be celebrated during the college’s Harvest Breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The award represents the important relationship between the land-grant mission and the agricultural community, according to MSU Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer.

“This award has a long and special history in the College of Agriculture, because it highlights the good work done by people who represent agricultural leadership in Montana,” Boyer said. “It’s also important for our students to see examples of the impact that agriculture, when combined with dedicated public service, can have.”

Successful award applicants will be: well respected in their agricultural community; actively involved in the agriculture industry with accomplishments that impact many; an industry leader or an upcoming, active and innovative producer; or have a lifetime of achievement in agriculture. Current MSU, state or federal employees will not be considered, except in the friend of agriculture category. Past MSU, state or federal employees need to have been retired for a minimum of two years and have shown service above and beyond their job requirements to be considered. Nominees who are not selected this year will be reconsidered the following year, but applications should be updated with current information.

In 2016, Jim Hagenbarth of Hagenbarth Livestock in Dillon won the award.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, Aug. 29, and forms should be received at 202 Linfield Hall, MSU, Bozeman, MT, 59717, by that date. Nomination forms may be downloaded at: http://agriculture.montana.edu/celebrateag/.

Celebrate Agriculture is an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of Montana agriculture and the impact that the land-grant tradition has on communities across the state of Montana, the nation and the world. The event includes a dinner hosting the college’s student scholarship award winners, a public breakfast and current agricultural-related research highlights. All events are free and open to the public. The MSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics will also host an outlook conference on Friday, Nov. 3. Details for the event are forthcoming.

Fallon Creek Cattlewomen to host “Urban Meets Rural” tour

The Fallon Creek Cattlewomen invite their urban friends and neighbors to a day in the country full of ranch tours, activities and a beef barbecue on Saturday, July 8.

 

“Urban Meets Rural Day” is offered at no charge to those interested in learning more about how ranchers raise healthy, sustainable beef and care for the land. A ranch tour will be followed by a picnic in the open, pasture golf, horseshoes, roping lessons for the little ones, a silent auction, and more fun, games, and prize for all ages. Wrapping up the day will be a beef barbecue with chefs from Miles City’s Rib and Chop House on site to fry steaks and serve a specially prepared full-course meal.

Registration is available at First Interstate Bank and Stockman Bank in Miles City, and also through Eventbrite.com. Attendees are asked to register by June 26. Departure for the tour is at 10 a.m. from the First Interstate Bank parking lot on Haynes Ave. in Miles City, and at 10:30 a.m. from the Bank of Baker parking lot in Baker the day of the event. Transportation will be provided for those who do not want to bring their own vehicle.

For more information contact Jeanne Drange at 406.772.5671 or Karen Drga at 406.772.5715.

 

 

Photo courtesy Kim Erickson.

Cattle industry urges against mandatory ID

From Tri-State Livestock News:

Cattle producers, veterinarians, sale barn operators and others involved in the cattle industry encouraged the federal government not to implement any kind of mandatory individual identification for feeder cattle 18 months of age and younger.

That was the message that Wayne Gerbig, Amidon, North Dakota, rancher heard at the Billings, Montana, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hearing May 24. The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association board member said that the two most important and most common messages shared during the public hearing were:

1 – USDA was encouraged to not pursue a mandatory identification program for breeding cattle or feeder cattle

2 – hot branding and the use of brand inspection and shippers permits are still viable forms of identification

“As important as it is to do our part, we don’t think they need to mandate it for all feeder cattle. We need to step back and see what’s working

— a lot of things are working. I think the view of the group, especially producers, is that there is enough opportunity with voluntary identification to meet the export demand. I felt like that was definitely the majority opinion of the producers at the meeting.” Race King, Dillon, Mont., rancher

The USDA APHIS hosted listening sessions in Oklahoma, Maryland, Tennessee, Minnesota, Denver, California and Billings to obtain public comment on the current Animal Disease Traceability system in order to determine what changes might be needed in the future.

Two upcoming meetings were recently added to the original lineup:

Omaha, Nebraska, July 18: Embassy Suites Omaha Downtown; and Fort Worth, Texas, July 20, Dallas/Fort Worth Marriott Hotel & Golf Club at Champions Circle. Producers are encouraged to attend those meetings to share their experiences and thoughts regarding a national animal identification program.

In 2012, USDA lowered the age at which sexually intact breeding cattle moving interstate required individual identification – from 24 months to 18 months of age. In this, “Phase two” USDA indicated it was interested in tracking all cattle that move interstate, including feeder cattle.

The final USDA hearing, in Billings, included an industry panel with a sale barn operator a purebred operator, a sale barn vet, and Race King, a Dillon, Montana, rancher who runs a yearling outfit.

King said his family, who operates within a designated surveillance area (DSA) in southwest Montana, began using individual electronic identification for their cattle to comply with state requirements. The DSAs exist to attempt to track breeding cattle from the areas of Montana most affected by brucellosis from wildlife – both elk and buffalo.

The Montana Stockgrowers member said the state compensates his ranch for some of the testing costs required within the DSA, and for some of the tagging costs as well. But the King Ranch has “embraced” the electronic identification program and now finds it useful for their own herd recordkeeping.

“We have made it work in our operation. We’ve adopted several ways of using the technology to make us better managers and marketers. We are now purchasing tags on our own,” he said, and added that his heifers don’t get a metal bangs tag when they are vaccinated and tattooed – the electronic identification tag takes the place of the bangs tag.

“Our premise is registered so those tag numbers are associated with our ranch.”

The Kings are involved in programs that require individual traceback identification, and that often offer premiums, but these programs are about more than just a button in the ear, he said.

“It’s not just tagging,” he said, adding that different programs call for different management strategies.

All of the benefits his ranch has experienced aside, King said he does not believe a mandatory tagging protocol for America’s feeder cattle is a good idea, and his family still utilizes hot branding and the state’s brand inspection program.

“As important as it is to do our part, we don’t think they need to mandate it for all feeder cattle. We need to step back and see what’s working – a lot of things are working. I think the view of the group, especially producers, is that there is enough opportunity for voluntary identification to meet the export demand. I felt like that was definitely the majority opinion of the producers at the meeting.”

Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President Errol Rice said his group doesn’t support a mandatory tagging requirement but would like to see USDA work in tandem with operators who are already utilizing traceback identification, or those who are interested in it, to develop some standardized government traceback protocols.

“If we do get hit with another disease outbreak, that way we’ve got a critical mass of feeder cattle that are under identification that could be made available for export markets,” said Rice. His group hopes this system would keep other countries from banning U.S. beef in the case of future disease outbreaks.

Gerbig said that he learned from other presenters that the electronic button tags have improved substantially. He said Joe Goggins, owner of the two Billings livestock auction barns and Vermilion Angus, testified that the electronic tags – in use in his purebred operation – are much less likely to fall out than earlier versions.

Goggins also explained that electronic identification would severely impede commerce during the fall run at his sale barn because, contrary to industry hopes that a truckload or a ring full of cattle could just be “swiped,” in reality each animal has to be run down a chute or individually caught in a head catch in order for the tags to be read.

There is still a good market for “source verified” cattle, although premiums are smaller than when they were newer, Gerbig said he learned in the meeting, due to more producers getting involved. He said that producers can’t just buy an electronic tag – which average around $2.50 for the basic kind – and expect a premium. He believes producers will need to get involved in a program and follow expected protocol throughout the year in order to qualify for a premium.

Read more at TSLN.com.