Jay Bodner named interim Executive Vice President of MSGA

Montana Stockgrowers Association Director of Natural Resources, Jay Bodner, has been named the interim Executive Vice President upon the resignation of Errol Rice. Jay Bodner has served in his current capacity for the past sixteen years.
For twelve years, Errol has tirelessly led the organization; his leadership and vision will be missed. Errol has accepted a position with a Montana based firm that is a leading provider of business development services for consulting and professional services companies around the globe. We cannot thank Errol enough for his years of service and dedication to Montana agriculture.
MSGA will begin taking applications for Executive Vice President beginning Monday, April 23. The deadline for application will be May 7. Questions can be directed to the MSGA office at 406.442.3420.

MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

The Montana Stockgrowers Association had a successful trip in DC, including meeting Secretary Pruitt(L to R) Back Row: MSGA First Vice President Fred Wacker of Miles City, MSGA Second Vice President Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney, MSGA Director of Natural Resources Jay Bodner, NCBA Environmental Counsel Scott Yager. Front Row: MSGA Communications Director Kori Anderson, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, MSGA President Bryan Mussard.



Contact:  Kori Anderson

MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) traveled to Washington DC to meet with Montana’s Congressional Delegation and Agency officials last week. President Bryan Mussard of Dillon, Mont.; First Vice President Fred Wacker of Miles City, Mont.; and Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney, Mont. attended the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Legislative Conference April 10-12.

The MSGA officers met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, Congressman Greg Gianforte, and senior officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) were a top priority of MSGA during the trip. They spoke extensively about the need for a permanent fix for livestock haulers, and the trio presented each member of the delegation with a list of minimums to consider.

MSGA had the opportunity to meet with Senator Daines the day before he met with President Trump to discuss the tariffs on China. The Association voiced their concerns over the proposed beef tariffs and explained the effect it would have on Montana’s number one industry.

A common theme of the week was reducing burdensome regulations, it costs ranchers $12,000 a year to comply with state and federal regulations. From the EPA to Interior, it was evident there was strong support for said action. Administrator Pruitt promised to look into streamlining the record keeping system for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) after discussion with the MSGA officers.

In order to best serve the ranchers of Montana, it is a priority of MSGA to work with the Congressional Delegation and Federal Agencies to accomplish the goals set forth by the membership. To learn more about what a membership with MSGA can do for you, please visit mtbeef.org.


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.

MSGA meeting with Secretary Zinke.

MSGA meeting with U.S. Senator Jon Tester.

Concerns over “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

NCBA, PLC Concerns About “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

PLC/NCBA News Release – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council yesterday expressed reservations about H.R. 3400, the so-called “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act,” as the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee prepares to mark up the bill.

“We strongly support the principle of multiple use of public lands,” said Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBAs Federal Lands. “That said, the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring one use over another, and that’s what this legislation does as it’s currently written.”

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 requires multiple use on public lands. This means that every American has a place on public lands – whether a hiker, camper, cattle rancher or energy producer, Lane said.

The Bureau of Land Management’s definition includes managing public land resources for “a variety of uses, such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting, while protecting a wide array of natural, cultural, and historical resources.”

Lane said that ranching is an essential element of multiple use because the practice easily coexists with other activities and does not preclude any of them from happening concurrently.

“Recreation should absolutely continue to be part of the multiple use of our public lands, but Washington shouldn’t go out of its way to promote it at the expense of other uses – like ranching.”

NRCS Sets Program Funding Application Cutoff for June 1

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set a June 1, 2018, application cutoff for agricultural operators to be considered for 2019 conservation program funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

NRCS provides funding and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that provide environmental benefits to help sustain agricultural operations. Conservation program participation is voluntary and helps landowners and operators defray the costs of installing conservation practices.

NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for 2019 funding consideration must be submitted by June 1, 2018. Applications made after the June 1 cutoff will be considered in the next funding cycle. Additional information is available on the Montana NRCS website at www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov under the Programs tab or you can contact your local NRCS service center.

NRCS Accepting Applications for Upper Clark Fork Drought Resiliency Project

From NRCS: Agricultural producers in Montana’s Upper Clark Fork River Watershed area have until May 18, 2018, to apply for financial assistance for conservation practices funded through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

In February 2016, a proposal submitted by the Watershed Restoration Coalition was accepted by NRCS to be funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The program will provide funding for partnership projects between public (Federal and State) and private entities and nongovernmental organizations.

The Upper Clark Fork project makes available a special five-year funding pool that NRCS will use to fund projects in the Upper Clark Fork watershed area. This is the second year funding is being made available and NRCS anticipates funding projects each year for the duration of the project agreement.

The RCPP project sign-up period will focus on projects that will address water conservation, irrigation water management, fish passage and fisheries habitat resource issues.

To apply for financial assistance, visit the NRCS field office located at 1002 Hollenback Road in Deer Lodge. For additional information, contact Glen Green, NRCS District Conservationist, at (406) 415-4040 or 415-4046.

NCBA Lays Out Principles for Regulating Fake Meat

Today the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. The comments, filed in response to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Petition Number 18-01, encourage USDA to look beyond modifying “standards of identity” in order to provide adequate protection for beef producers and consumers.

“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”

NCBA’s regulatory principles are designed to effectively address both plant-based and lab-grown imitation beef products. Specifically, NCBA:

1) Requests that USDA work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products.”

NCBA firmly believes the term beef should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers. For misbranded and mislabeled plant-based protein products, existing legislation gives FDA the authority to take enforcement actions. However, the agency has a history of failing to enforce labeling laws. Rather than expending time and resources to develop a standard of identity the FDA will blatantly ignore, NCBA requests USDA engage with FDA to facilitate immediate, appropriate enforcement actions against imitation meat product labels that clearly violate existing laws.

2) Urges USDA to “assert jurisdiction over foods consisting of, isolated from or produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from livestock and poultry animals or their parts.” 

NCBA believes that USDA-FSIS is the agency best placed to regulate emerging lab-grown meat products. First, USDA-FSIS possesses the technical expertise and regulatory infrastructure to ensure perishable meat food products are safe for U.S. consumers. Lab-grown meat must comply with the same stringent food safety inspection standards as all other meat products.

Second, USDA-FSIS labeling standards provided greater protection against false and misleading marketing claims. Unlike the FDA, USDA-FSIS requires pre-approval of all labels before products hit the marketplace. This will ensure consistent labeling practices across all products, and prevent misleading marketing labels such as “clean meat.”

Snowpack Still on the Rise, Well Above Average, and Setting Records in Some Parts of Montana

From NRCS:

Unlike February, snowfall wasn’t record-breaking in Montana during March, but it was sufficient to keep the snowpack near to well above normal on April 1, according to snow survey data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “One thing is for sure; it’s been a snowy winter across the state of Montana,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana, “and there’s still more to come.”

Last month, records were set for both monthly totals for February snowfall, and for total snowpack accumulation on March 1. Many snowpack measuring locations that feed Montana’s rivers and streams remain record high for April 1. Ten SNOwpack TELemetry (SNOTEL) and snowcourse locations remain the highest on record for this date, and 12 measurement locations are the second highest on record. These sites can be found in the mountains that feed the Upper Yellowstone River, Upper Clark Fork and Missouri Mainstem River basins, where snowfall has been abundant throughout the winter months. “Although not record-setting like these regions, the snowpack in other river basins across the state is well above normal for this time of year,” Zukiewicz said.

2018 is looking to go down as one of the biggest snow years on record for some parts of the state, prompting questions on how it compares to other memorable snowpack years. “1972, 1997, 2011 and 2014 were all big winters across the state, and many are wondering how this year compares,” Zukiewicz said. “So far, the only snowpack that has topped all other water years for peak snow water contained in the snowpack is the area near Cooke City which feeds the Clark’s Fork River of the Yellowstone River.”

For the most part, the snowpack in the rest of the state hasn’t reached the levels of 1997, 2011 and 2014. “During those years, snowpack peaked at the beginning of May to early June. For now, it looks like there is still a lot of winter left to come and this year could break more records if it keeps going.” Zukiewicz said.

Long-range predictions by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center continue to forecast above average precipitation and below average temperatures through the end of April.

Due to the abundant snowfall, many measurement locations have already reached, or exceeded, the normal amount of snow water that is typically contained in the snowpack before runoff occurs, all but assuring at least normal surface water supply this spring and summer, Zukiewicz said. Long-duration volumetric streamflow forecasts issued for the April 1 – July 31 period are well above average for most stream gages in the state, and could approach record levels this spring and summer at the stream gage at Belfry, Mont., located along Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone.

“Having a big snowpack is a double-edged sword,” Zukiewicz said. “You know there will be plenty of snowpack to feed the rivers, which is typically great news, but the uncertainty of how and when it will come out can keep you up at night.”

The coming month will be critical in determining how much water is available in the snowpack for runoff this spring, and the day-to-day and week-by-week weather patterns during May and June will determine the timing and volumes of water in Montana. Water users are encouraged to read the May 1, 2018, NRCS Water Supply Outlook Report, which will summarize the conditions that occurred over the month of April, and help water users prepare for runoff this spring and summer.

Individual point forecasts for streams and rivers can be found in the monthly NRCS Water Supply Outlook Report and should be consulted as conditions vary from basin to basin, and even within the basins themselves.

Monthly Water Supply Outlook Reports can be found at the website below after the 5th business day of the month:


April 1, 2018, Snow Water Equivalent

River Basin % of Normal % Last Year
Columbia 137 134
Kootenai, Montana 128 122
Flathead, Montana 136 130
Upper Clark Fork 156 170
Bitterroot 134 128
Lower Clark Fork 124 117
Missouri 133 145
Jefferson 135 134
Madison 124 118
Gallatin 130 148
Headwaters Mainstem 169 190
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 130 186
Sun-Teton-Marias 142 122
St. Mary-Milk 140 149
Yellowstone River Basin 135 102
Upper Yellowstone 152 128
Lower Yellowstone 121 85
West of the Divide 137 134
East of the Divide 133 119
Montana State-Wide 137 137

April 1, 2018, Precipitation

River Basin Monthly % of Average Water Year % of Average Water Year % of Last Year
Columbia 93 123 95
Kootenai, Montana 93 113 81
Flathead, Montana 101 129 96
Upper Clark Fork 103 130 114
Bitterroot 99 119 100
Lower Clark Fork 69 115 85
Missouri 111 119 95
Jefferson 117 111 93
Madison 121 113 82
Gallatin 113 124 98
Headwaters Mainstem 111 137 120
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 90 117 111
Sun-Teton-Marias 90 136 104
St. Mary-Milk 107 130 88
Yellowstone River Basin 98 122 83
Upper Yellowstone 99 138 95
Lower Yellowstone 98 108 72
West of the Divide 93 123 95
East of the Divide 103 121 89
Montana State-Wide 102 124 95

April-July 50% Exceedance Forecasts

River Basin Highest Point Forecast* Lowest Point Forecast** Basin Average Forecast***
Columbia 231% 107% 134%
Kootenai, Montana 124% 110% 118%
Flathead, Montana 158% 112% 131%
Upper Clark Fork 231% 148% 170%
Bitterroot 128% 113% 121%
Lower Clark Fork 144% 107% 130%
Missouri 174% 95% 125%
Jefferson 161% 95% 126%
Madison 114% 111% 113%
Gallatin 123% 115% 120%
Headwaters Mainstem 135% 128% 132%
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 174% 117% 141%
Sun-Teton-Marias 141% 99% 123%
St. Mary 123% 119% 121%
Yellowstone River Basin 194% 83% 133%
Upper Yellowstone 194% 97% 147%
Lower Yellowstone 159% 83% 119%

Note: Streamflow forecasts are issued for multiple points on rivers and streams within a major river basin and are given as a range of exceedance probabilities. Consult the individual river basin of interest to see the range of values for streams of interest.

*Highest point forecast is the highest 50% forecast of all forecast points within the basin.

**Lowest point forecast is the lowest 50% forecast of all forecast points within the basin.

***Basin average forecast is an average of all 50% forecasts within the basin.

USDA Implements up to $2.36 Billion to Help Agricultural Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

‘2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program’ to Aid Recovery in Rural Communities

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make these disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and devastating wildfires. The 2017 calendar year was a historic year for natural disasters, and this investment is part of a broader suite of programs that USDA is delivering to rural America to aid recovery. In total, the Act provided more than $3 billion in disaster relief by creating new programs and expediting or enhancing payments for producers.

“America’s farmers feed our nation and much of the world, and throughout history, they have known good years and bad years. But when significant disasters strike, we are ready to step in and provide the assistance they need,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is working as quickly as possible to develop procedures and a system by which affected producers can access disaster assistance. For producers new to FSA programs, we encourage you to visit your local USDA service center now to establish farm records.”

About 2017 WHIP Disaster Payments

The new 2017 WHIP will provide significant disaster assistance and be guided by the following principles:

  • Eligibility will be limited to producers in counties that experienced hurricanes or wildfires designated as presidentially-declared disasters in 2017;
  • Compensation determined by a producer’s individual losses rather than an average of losses for a particular area (where data is available);
  • Producers who purchased higher levels of risk protection, such as crop insurance and noninsured crop disaster assistance program, will receive higher payments;
  • Advance payments up to 50 percent; and
  • A requirement that payment recipients obtain future risk protection.

Other USDA Disaster Assistance

WHIP disaster payments are being issued in addition to payments through our traditional programs, some of which obtained increased funding or had amendments made by the Act to make the programs more responsive, including theEmergency Conservation Program, Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish ProgramTree Assistance Program and Livestock Indemnity Program.

During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather-related disasters, with an economic impact totaling more than $300 billion. In total, the United States was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events including three tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two inland floods, a crop freeze, drought, and wildfire. More than 25 million people – almost eight percent of the population – were affected by major disasters.

More Information

FSA will distribute more information on how producers can file claims for WHIP disaster payments at a later date. For questions on how to establish farm records to be prepared when WHIP disaster signup begins, or to learn about other disaster assistance programs, producers are asked to contact their local USDA service center.

MDA Announces Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Awards

The Montana Department of Agriculture and Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council has awarded over $1.74 million for the development and implementation of noxious weed management programs in March 2018. The grants assist counties, conservation districts, local communities, tribes, researchers and educators in efforts to combat noxious weeds in Montana.

57 local cooperative projects were recommended for funding at a total of $1,218,935 or 70% of all dollars awarded. Ten research projects were recommended for funding at $248,236 or 14% and 11 educational projects are recommended for $279,681 or 16%. Combined research and educational projects recommended for funding total $527,917 or 30% of all funding available.

In addition to the $1.74 million grant hearing awards, each of the 56 counties and 7 reservations in the state are eligible to receive $7,500 per year.

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.  A compiled list of award recipients is available at http://agr.mt.gov/Noxious-Weed-Trust-Fund-Grants.

Applications for 2019 Noxious Weed Trust Fund grants can be found at https://fundingmt.org in mid-July, for completion and submittal by January 6, 2019.

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.

Governor Bullock issues EO to aid winter hay hauling

Due to the effects of Montana’s severe winter conditions, Montana Governor Steve Bullock has waived certain hay transportation requirements. Yesterday, Governor Bullock signed an Executive Order that allows for the movement of vehicles that may exceed size and weight limits when it is necessary for responding to emergency situations brought on by weather or other natural events.

The Order allows baled livestock feed within the state to exceed the statutory limits by 20 percent along with allowing nighttime transportation of said oversized hay loads.

While operating under this Order, commercial vehicle drivers may not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a motor vehicle and are encouraged to meet the lighting requirements for loads over 10 feet in width.

The exemption will last for thirty days unless revoked prior to expiration.