U.S. Ag Secretary Perdue to attend Montana Ag Summit

From the Great Falls Tribune by David Murray:

Montana Sen. Steve Daines announced Wednesday that newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will deliver a keynote address at the 2017 Montana Ag Summit in Great Falls five weeks from now.

The Montana Ag Summit, co-sponsored by Daines and the Montana Chamber Foundation, will take place in Great Falls on May 31 and June 1. It will bring some of the nation’s highest-profile agricultural leaders to Montana’s Golden Triangle to meet with the public and discuss ongoing efforts to strengthen Montana agriculture’s international relationships, showcase current technological advancements and examine the challenges of federal policies and regulations for both the current and future generations of farmers and ranchers.

“I’m excited to host Secretary Perdue in Montana for the Montana Ag Summit,” Daines stated in a prepared news release. “This will be a great opportunity for Secretary Perdue to see Montana’s number one economic driver firsthand and talk with our hardworking farmers and ranchers. Nothing replaces seeing our state and hearing what’s on the minds of Montanans.”

The Former Georgia governor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 24 as secretary of the Agriculture Department. The vote was 87 to 11, with both Daines and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) voting to approve him as ag secretary.

Perdue faced few obstacles during his confirmation hearings. He received endorsements from hundreds of food and agricultural groups nationwide, including major groups such as the Farm Bureau and the National Restaurant Association, and gained praise from Republicans and Democrats alike.

“Our farmers and ranchers have long been waiting for this important role to be filled,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said prior to the vote to confirm Perdue. “Once Gov. Perdue becomes Secretary Perdue, I know he will put the needs of farmers and ranchers — and rural America — first.”

Roberts also will attend next month’s Montana Ag Summit, bringing his added prestige and authority to an event which will also include the acting chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the president of the United Grain Corporation and the president of Northwest Farm Credit Services.

Perdue, 70, grew up on a Georgia farm and worked as a veterinarian before beginning his political career in the 1990s. He is viewed as both a fiscal conservative and an immigration hawk, who shepherded passage of some of the nation’s toughest measures against illegal immigration during his two terms as the governor of Georgia.

As secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Perdue will face near immediate controversy. President Trump has proposed a 21 percent reduction in the department’s budget, and his aggressive stance on halting illegal immigration has caused anxiety within some segments of the ag economy, which relies heavily upon foreign labor to get the crops planted, cared for and harvested.

During his confirmation hearings, Perdue told senators that he supports many of the programs that could be cut by Trump’s budget, particularly those that focus on agricultural research and rural infrastructure development.

Another hurdle for U.S. agriculture on the near horizon will be passage of the next Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill took over three years to hammer out, leaving the country without federal legislation on agriculture and food subsidy programs for more than a year and a half.

To register and for more information on the 2017 Montana Ag Summit, visit www.agsummitmontana.com.

As a reminder, MSGA members attending MidYear 2017 held May 30-June 1 in Great Falls, will receive a complimentary ticket to the Summit. 

Sen. Daines Releases Welcome Video for Montana Ag Summit

The summit, co-sponsored by Daines, will take place in Great Falls on May 31 and June 1, 2017. The Montana Ag Summit will bring the nation’s agricultural leaders to Montana’s Golden Triangle. The summit will focus on strengthening international relationships for Montana agriculture, showcasing technological advancements, promoting the next generation of farmers and ranchers, and discussing the challenges of federal policies and regulations.

Held in conjunction with MidYear Meeting 2017, you will receive a complimentary ticket to the Ag Summit with your MidYear registration.

The MidYear Meeting is one of two meetings that is held to set association policy that guides the Association through the year.

While the main focus of the meeting is for the setting of interim policy we also use the meeting as a networking opportunity for the MSGA membership. Ranchers and allied industry professionals gather together from across the state of Montana of two days filled with meetings, entertainment, education, and fun!

MidYear Agenda

Montana Ag Summit

 

Week 16 || Montana’s 65th Legislature

It is day 82 of Montana’s 65th Legislature. This week Jay and Kori discuss aquatic invasive species, workers’ compensation insurance, property valuation, well setbacks and state laboratories. Have any questions? Email kori@mtbeef.org or call the office at 406.442.3420.

 

63 Indicted in Brazilian Beef Scandal

By Greg Henderson

Federal Police in Brazil has indicted 63 people for their role in a vast corruption scheme within the Ministry of Agriculture. The charges allege federal auditors at meat processing facilities took bribes for years in exchange for fraudulent sanitary permits.

The probe into Brazil’s meat corruption was launched March 17, 2017, by Brazil’s Federal Police. Brazil, the world’s largest beef and poultry exporter and the fourth largest exporter of pork, saw its exports drop to near zero within a week of the scandal’s announcement, though most export sales have resumed.

The suspects in the case are charged with falsifying medical records and certificates, tampering with food products, conspiracy and corruption. One employee at a JBS processing plant in Brazil was included in the investigation, allegedly due to his relationship with federal inspectors. The employee was suspended.

Click Here to read the entire Drovers article. 

Daines Leads Congressional Delegation to China and Japan

Discussed Opening Chinese Markets to U.S. Beef Imports, National Security

 

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines today announced that he recently returned from an official overseas congressional delegation trip to China and Japan including visits to Beijing, Chengdu, Lhasa, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

 

Daines met with China Premier Li Keqiang, as well as National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang, Vice Chairman Zhang Ping, National People’s Congress Lobsang Gyaltsen, Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qi Zhala, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary for Japan and Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry for Japan. Daines also toured Isogo Clean Coal Power Plant in Tokyo. In Hong Kong, Daines met with Carrie Lam, Chief Executive Designate, Hong Kong.

 

Daines stressed the importance of expanding trade opportunities for Montana agriculture and products and America’s geopolitical strength in the region including the threat of a nuclear North Korea.

 

Daines hand carried four Montana steaks and a photo of Fred Wacker of Miles City and his cows to China and presented them to Premier Li Keqiang to underscore the importance of opening Chinese markets to U.S. beef imports.

“With over $250 million a year in Montana exports to China, they are a critical partner for our economy,” Daines stated.  “During this trip, I underscored the importance of strong relations to expand opportunities for Montana producers. I heard firsthand the serious threat a nuclear North Korea poses and the need to work together to ensure stability not just in the region, but globally.”

 

China is Montana’s third largest trading partner behind Canada and South Korea.

 

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, expanding export opportunities for Montana products is critical for the future of Montana farmers, ranchers and businesses.

U.S. to seek China access for beef, services: White House

By David Lawder | WASHINGTON from Reuters

U.S. trade negotiators will try to hammer out deals with China over the next 100 days to resume imports of American beef and to allow U.S. access to China’s closed services sector, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday.

Spicer said that U.S and Chinese officials were still at the early stages of “fleshing out” a pledge by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to develop 100-day plan to help reduce China’s massive trade surplus with the United States that was made at their first meeting in Florida last week.

Asked in a press briefing whether China had offered concessions on beef and financial services access, as reported by the Financial Times, Spicer said these sectors were among topics that U.S.-China talks would cover.

“I think, obviously, beef exports and additional market access in China, intellectual property, the ability to have foreign ownership, especially in the services industry, is something that has been a big prize of U.S. exporters and industry for a long time,” Spicer said. “But it is something that is being hammered out as we go forward.”

Another Trump administration official said U.S. trade discussions with China will cover a variety of sectors, and the meetings were just getting started.

Asked about the FT’s report of beef and financial services concessions by China, the official said: “Two sectors is not considered comprehensive.”

No decisions have been made to revive negotiations over a U.S.-China bilateral investment treaty that were pursued by the Obama administration last year, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about U.S. negotiating plans.

China could become a massive export market for U.S. beef if a deal could be struck, said Brett Stuart, chief executive of Global AgriTrends in Denver. He said the Greater China region currently imports about $7 billion worth of beef annually – a figure expected to grow as China’s middle class expands.

But China has purchased hardly any American beef since it conditionally lifted a longstanding import ban last year. The ban was imposed in 2003 due to a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in Washington state.

“We have yet to see U.S. beef on Chinese tables,” said Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

(Additional reporting by Tom Polansek and Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

moving cattle montana pasture

Cattlemen Applaud Delay of GIPSA Rule, Call for Its Ultimate Demise

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded today’s announcement that the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is delaying the effective date of its interim final rule an additional six months to Oct. 19, 2017.

 

“This is another step toward common sense and away from counterproductive government intrusion in the free market,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “That said, while a delay is welcome, ultimately this rule should be killed and American cattle producers should be free to market our beef without the threat of government-sanctioned frivolous lawsuits.”

 

Two proposed rules and one interim final rule came out on December 20, 2016, one month before the end of the Obama Administration. The interim final rule regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the proposed rule regarding undue preference and unjust treatment have a direct negative impact on the cattle industry.
Current systems that allow producers to market their cattle as they see fit reward them for producing the higher-quality beef that consumers demand. Under the interim final rule, USDA or a producer no longer needs to prove true economic harm. Instead, one only needs to say that he or she was treated “unfairly” to file a damaging lawsuit that could discourage cattlemen from continuing to invest in improving the quality of beef being produced.

“Trial lawyers are salivating at the prospect of this rule becoming the law of the land,” Uden said. “If this rule isn’t killed once and for all, cattle producers will lose nearly all incentive to invest in the production of higher-quality beef. That would mean less revenue for producers and lower quality for consumers. That’s a lose-lose proposition and exactly why the rule needs to not only be delayed – it needs to be killed outright.”

From: NCBA

The Montana Stockgrowers Association travels to Washington D.C. to advance national policy

From L – R: MSGA Director of Natural Resources Jay Bodner, Helena; MSGA 2nd VP Jim Steinbeisser, Sidney; Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke; MSGA 1st VP Fred Wacker, Miles City; MSGA President Bryan Mussard, Dillon; Marcia Mussard, Dillon; MT PLC Chair Vicki Olson, Malta; ANCW VP Wanda Pinnow, Baker; MSGA EVP Errol Rice, Helena

 

Helena, Mont. (April 6, 2017) – Leadership from the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Public Lands Council and the Montana Cattlewomen were in Washington, D.C. March 28th – 30th. They met with cabinet members of the Trump Administration, lawmakers and agency officials on issues important to the Montana ranching sector, including public lands grazing, sage grouse, beef checkoff legislation, environmental regulations, trade and taxes.

 

“We have an opportunity to move on many key priorities under the new administration and this Congress.” said Bryan Mussard, MSGA President. “Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, was gracious to meet with our delegation to discuss the Interior’s land and wildlife management challenges and how ranchers can play an active role moving forward.”

 

Other highlights included a briefing with new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Ray Starling with the National Economic Council for Agriculture, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, and senior staff with the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.

 

The recent beef inspection scandal with Brazil was a hot topic and MSGA endorsed a bill by U.S. Senator Jon Tester to put a temporary ban on Brazilian beef imports until the issue is resolved. Expanding exports for U.S. beef into China is a top priority. China’s bureaucratic hurdles are preventing Montana’s ranchers from shipping the nation’s highest quality beef to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

 

Senator Tester and Senator Daines are leading efforts to urge President Trump to make U.S. beef exports a top issue during discussions with China’s President Xi Jinping. As a result, China has tentatively agreed to develop a 100-day plan to increase beef imports from the U.S.

 

For more information on the Montana Stockgrowers Association please visit www.mtbeef.org.

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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.

MDA awards over $1.6 million in Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grants

Counties, conservation districts, local communities, tribes, researchers and educators across Montana will have more resources in the battle against noxious weeds after the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) awarded over $1.6 million in grants from the Noxious Weed Trust Fund.

The Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council reviewed 74 Noxious Weed Trust Fund grant applications requesting more than $1.7 million and recommended awards totaling more than $1.6 million for education, research, and cooperative noxious weed management projects. In total, 70 grant proposals were approved for funding awards, including 49 local cooperative projects, 10 research projects, and 11 education projects.

“Noxious weeds are one of the biggest threats facing Montana’s lands today,” said MDA Director, Ben Thomas. “The importance of these grants can’t be understated; these groups are the boots on the ground in the war against noxious weeds and we will continue to make these efforts a priority.”

In addition to the $1.6 million grant hearing awards, each of the 56 counties and 7 reservations in the state are eligible to receive $7,500 per year, bringing the 2017 awards to more than $2 million. A compiled list of award recipients is available at http://agr.mt.gov/Noxious-Weed-Trust-Fund-Grants.

The Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund grant program was established by the Montana Legislature in 1985. The advisory council reviews applications, hears applicant testimony, and provides funding recommendations to the director for final approval. Funding is typically passed through a governmental organization, local weed district, conservation district, extension office, or university.

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit agr.mt.gov.

–Montana Department of Agriculture

Tester endorses Perdue for Ag Secretary; urges speedy confirmation

From David Murray and the Great Falls Tribune:

It has now been two and half months since Donald Trump was elected President, and the U.S. Senate has not yet scheduled a full vote to confirm former Georgia Governor, Sonny Perdue, as the next Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

On Wednesday, Montana’s senior senator Jon Tester, publicly endorsed Perdue for ag secretary and urged Senate leaders to speed up the confirmation process.

“As a farmer and as Montana’s senator, I am honored to support Gov. Perdue so we can work together to support family farms and ranches across Montana,” Tester said in a prepared statement. “With planting season upon us, producers need the certainty of having a secretary responsible for strengthening our state’s number one industry.”

Perdue, 70, was the last Cabinet member nominated by President Trump. Unlike more controversial nominations, such as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Amway billionaire Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, Perdue’s nomination has received broad support from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Perdue grew up on a Georgia farm and worked as a veterinarian before beginning his political career in the 1990s. He is viewed as both a fiscal conservative and an immigration hawk, who shepherded passage of some of the nation’s toughest measures against illegal immigration during his two terms as the governor of Georgia.

During hearings before the Senate Agriculture Committee on March 23, Perdue enjoyed praise from the senators of both parties, including an endorsement from the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)

“After a thorough review of his qualifications and priorities, I support the nomination of Gov. Perdue to serve as Agriculture Secretary,” Stabenow said one week after closure of the ag committee hearings. “Although we have some differences on policy, we share a commitment to support American agriculture and strengthen our small towns and rural communities.”

Perdue’s ultimate confirmation seems all but guaranteed, but the real question lies in when the Senate will make time for a full floor vote. The fight over confirmation of nominee for Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch has clogged the Senate schedule. At this point it appears that a vote on Perdue’s nomination could be delayed until sometime in May.

On Tuesday, Sen. Tester submitted a letter to both the Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate, urging a speedy resolution to the delay.

“There are numerous challenges facing our agricultural communities in Montana and across rural America,” Tester said in addressing both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Commodity prices are nearing historic lows, the demand for public infrastructure improvements are mounting and the importance of expanding access to new markets is growing. It is vital for there to be strong leadership in place at the United States Department of Agriculture to tackle these challenges.”

Whoever ultimately assumes leadership of the Department of Agriculture will face near immediate controversy. President Trump has proposed a 21-percent reduction in the department’s budget, and his aggressive stance on halting illegal immigration has caused anxiety within some segments of the ag economy, which relies heavily upon foreign labor to get the crops planted, cared for and harvested.

The biggest hurdle for U.S. agriculture on the near horizon is the next Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill took over three years to hammer out, leaving the country without federal legislation on agriculture and food subsidy programs for more than a year and a half.

If anything, the membership of the 2017 Congress is even more widely divided than when the last Farm Bill was presented in 2012. Passage of the mammoth Farm Bill appropriations will require time, patience and subtle bargaining on both sides of the political divide, all of which are commodities Perdue could find in short supply.