Calling for Nominations for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards

Award applications for the 12th annual National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards now are being accepted. The 2019 National BQA Awards recognize five winners in the areas of beef, dairy, marketing and education:

  • The BQA Cow Calf and BQA Feedyard awards recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations.
  • The BQA / FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) award honors those dairy operations that demonstrate the best in animal care and handling while implementing the BQA and FARM programs at the highest levels.
  • The BQA Marketer Award acknowledges livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified.
  • The BQA Educator Award celebrates individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.

The National BQA Awards are selected by a committee of BQA certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups. Nominations are submitted by organizations, groups or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy beef producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, though the nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. Past nominees are encouraged to submit their application under the new nomination structure. Previous winners may not reapply.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association manages the BQA program as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. Funding for the BQA Awards is made possible by the generosity of Cargill, which has supported the program since its inception, and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, which sponsors the BQA Educator Award.

Find the application and nomination requirements here. Applications are due by June 1, 2018.

For more information about BQA visit

2018 Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum

Written by Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist


Each year Montana State University Extension and the Montana Feed Association host the Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum.  Dr. Rachel Endecott has been, for the past several years, the conference coordinator and this year she passed the reins on to me.  I want to thank Dr. Endecott for her support and developing this conference into such an excellent event.

This year we will continue this excellent conference with the theme “Drought Resource Management.”  The drought in 2017 was one of the worst seen in the Northern Great Plains and we hope to provide additional resources for livestock producers, Extension faculty, and agriculture professionals.  The conference will take place April 17 and 18 at the GranTree Inn in Bozeman, MT.

We have an excellent line-up of speakers from Montana State University, University of Wyoming, USDA-ARS Fort Keogh, and elsewhere.  These speakers will focus on the resources available for decision-making and how to effectively use these tools during drought.  Topics include a weather outlook for 2018, using alternative forages, hay storage, forage sampling and analysis, post-fire grazing, supplementation strategies, water quality, and production costs and available insurance programs.

On Wednesday morning we will have our annual Graduate and Undergraduate Student Poster Competition.  This is an excellent opportunity to meet students in the Animal and Range Sciences Department and learn about their research.

We also have an excellent Keynote Speaker, Amberley Snyder, who will be delivering her compelling and dynamic presentation, There is No Future in Giving Up, during dinner on April 17.

We hope you will join us for this excellent conference.  You can register online at  A block of rooms at the GranTree has also been reserved for the event under the Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum.

Please contact me with any questions at 406-874-8286 or

USDA Announces $8.4 Million to Support Veterans and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement (OPPE) today announced up to $8.4 million in available funding for training and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. Funding is made through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program).

“The USDA is committed to reaching all farmers and ranchers,” said OPPE Director Diane Cullo. “Through the 2501 program, the USDA is building lasting relationships among these farmers and ranchers, the local organizations that serve them, and the USDA’s local, state, regional, and national offices.”

The 2501 Program was originally authorized by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990. 2501 grants seek to enhance the equitable participation of socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers in USDA resources and programs, such as Farm Service Agency loans or grants through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Projects may focus on conferences, training sessions, educational materials, or new programs to help these farmers and ranchers thrive and succeed.

Eligible applicants include community-based organizations, networks, or coalitions of community-based organizations; 1890 or 1994 institutions of higher education; American Indian tribal community colleges or Alaska Native cooperative colleges; Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education; other higher education institutions; Indian Tribes or national tribal organizations. Eligible entities must have experience in providing agricultural education or other agricultural-related services for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers.

The deadline for applications is May 15, 2018. See the request for applications for full details. Learn more about this funding opportunity through two teleconferences on March 28, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. EST and April 25, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. EST. To join each session, call 1-888-455-1685 and use passcode 7087935.

Examples of FY 2017 funded 2501 projects include a grant to the National Hmong American Farmers, Inc., to provide technical and direct assistance to Hmong farmers in central California who face barriers to successful farming due to poverty and cultural and linguistic isolation. A Florida State University project reached veterans with workshops, online agricultural courses, and 15 farm apprenticeships and managerial apprenticeships at private farms.

The Montana Hunter Advancement Program:  Ethics, Access and Education

A Project of Common Ground
Common Ground, a collaborative group of landowner and sportsmen organizations, is developing a comprehensive, advanced hunter education program designed to put more ethical, educated, and effective hunters in the field. The 2018 pilot course is now accepting applications from qualified hunters.

The program’s mission is to provide advanced hunter education that increases hunter competence, ethical hunting behavior, private land access and knowledge of agriculture and land stewardship. The goals of the program are as follows:

  • To educate hunters about landowner issues and concerns related to hunter access, including but not limited to, respect for private property, appropriate use of ranch roads, impacts of weeds, safety, impacts of public hunters on farming and ranching operations;
  • To educate hunters regarding the economics of ranching/farming and the impacts that wildlife have on the operation of a farm or ranch;
  • To increase hunter knowledge of all aspects of the hunt, including ethics, shooting skills, care of game, woodsmanship, first aid, survival skills;
  • To create new hunting access opportunities for public hunters on private farms and ranches;
  • To provide landowners with a new hunter access program which includes a new hunter management opportunity;
  • To build mutual respect and cooperation between landowners; and
  • To increase the potential for better wildlife management opportunities for landowners and more quality land access opportunities for ethical hunters.

To learn more about this program and for information on how to apply as a hunter or landowner, please visit

Common Ground Members
Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Bowhunters Association, Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Western Landowners Alliance, and several individual outfitters, sportsmen, and ranchers.

“Positive Developments” in Omnibus Spending Bill

Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), released the following statement:

“The omnibus spending bill includes a number of positive developments for cattlemen and women, including language that would prevent 200,000 farms and ranches from being regulated like toxic waste sites, delay the implementation of electronic logging devices for livestock haulers for another six months, and provide a critical fix for wildfire funding that also provides expedited authority to implement much-needed vegetation management on federal lands. We are also glad to see refinements to the tax code that address the 199A issue. NCBA and our affiliates have been working closely with Congress to ensure the spending bill addresses issues of concern for U.S. ranchers and beef producers, and we are glad to see our policy priorities reflected in the legislation. We urge Congress to take the next step and vote ‘Yes’ when the bill comes up for a vote.”


  • CERCLA Reporting: A provision would relieve livestock producers of the emissions reporting requirements under CERCLA, protecting 200,000 farms and ranches around the country. NCBA has been urging affiliates and members to support stand-alone legislation in the House and Senate that would also exempt agricultural producers from CERCLA reporting requirements. Passage of the omnibus spending bill would achieve the same goal.


  • Electronic Logging Devices: The bill includes a provision that would grant livestock haulers an exemption from ELDs until September 30, 2018. A further delay will provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that do not currently work for those truckers driving livestock across this great nation. Recent NCBA actions on this issue include:
    • September 2017 – NCBA and allied groups petition Department of Transportation for ELD waiver.
    • September 2017 – NCBA and affiliates ask Congress to support one-year delay of ELD implementation for livestock haulers.
    • November 2017 – NCBA helps secure 90-day waiver from ELD implementation
    • March 2018 – NCBA and allied groups successfully petition for another 90-day wavier from ELD implementation.


  • Section 199A Fix: The 199A fix included in the bill will equalize tax treatment of commodity sales to cooperatives and non-cooperatives, while also providing flow-through deduction from co-ops to their members similar to the old Section 199 deduction for domestic production activities.

Grazing Lands Focus of Upcoming National Conference

The National Grazing Lands Coalition (NatGLC) will host the 7th National Conference on Grazing Lands Dec. 2-5, 2018, at the Peppermill in Reno, Nev. Conference organizers expect more than 800 ranchers, professors, land managers, researchers, public officials, conservationists, and students to attend this national conference and participate in the exchange of ideas and information on the latest grazing land issues.

“We are excited about bringing this national conference to Nevada,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition. “Grazing lands make up more than a quarter of the private land acres in the United States and serve many roles from homes for livestock and wildlife to sponges for rainfall, carbon reservoirs, hunting and fishing grounds, and much, much more.”

Featured speakers include two renowned grazing experts, Jim Gerrish and Fred Provenza. Gerrish is a grazing lands producer and consultant dedicated to aiding farmers and ranchers in more effectively managing their grazing lands for economic and environmental sustainability. Provenza is a professor emeritus at Utah State University who produced groundbreaking research over a more than 30-year career that laid the foundations for what is now known as behavior-based landscape management.

“What makes this conference unique is the range of speakers we will have, from grazing land experts to ‘cowboy experts,’ the individuals who have gained their expertise through long hours working with livestock,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition. “We invite everyone to submit a paper or abstract to make an oral presentation or present a poster paper.”

Abstracts are due by May 15, 2018. Producer panels, featuring three to five producers per panel, will cover the following topics:

  • Transition Planning
  • Leases and Working with Absentee Landowners
  • Reducing Winter Feeding Costs
  • Diversified Livestock Watering Systems and Fire Resiliency

In addition, the NatGLC will hold a Conservation Innovation Grant symposium on Monday afternoon to highlight progress on the “Outreach on Grazing Land to Enhance Economic Analysis (Cost Benefit) for Conservation Changes.”

Early registration of $295 is available through March 31, 2018, followed by regular online registration of $395 until Oct. 15, 2018. After that date, registration increases to $475. Registration online, and obtain more information about opportunities to exhibit or participate in poster presentations at

Tester to Washington: Cut the Crap

Senator Cosponsors Bill to Stop Federal Government from Regulating Cow Pies


(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that will stop the federal government from regulating cow pies.

The Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act permanently flushes a regulation that would require small family farmers and ranchers to report air emissions from animal waste to federal officials.

“It’s not just the smell coming out of Washington, this regulation is total crap,” said Tester. “Farmers and ranchers have plenty of real work to do, counting cow turds is not in the job description. This bill will bring some Montana commonsense to a place that’s totally out of touch with life in rural America.”

For nearly 40 years, family farmers and ranchers were exempted from reporting animal-caused air pollution to the government. But a recent D.C. Circuit Court threw out the ranch exemption forcing Montana producers to start reporting air emissions from their animal waste by May 1, 2018.

Tester’s bill ensures that Montana producers will not be subjected to pointless regulation by clarifying that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was never intended to apply to agriculture operations.

The FARM Act is available HERE.

Source: Senator Jon Tester

USDA and Local Partners Offer Opportunities to Reduce Wildfire Risk

The goal of the Capital 360 partnership is to improve forest health by integrating resource management across all administrative boundaries. Fuels reduction treatment projects will be strategically placed across Broadwater, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Powell counties.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service are working together to fund the Capital 360 partnership across private and public lands. NRCS projects will use Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds.

While EQIP applications are accepted year-round, applications for the Capital 360 initiative must be received by May 18, 2018, to be considered for this funding period.

Contact your local USDA field office for more information and to apply.

  • Broadwater – Justin Meissner, 406-266-3146 x 103
  • Jefferson County – Nancy Sweeney, 406-287-3215 x 301
  • Lewis and Clark County – John George, 406-449-5000 x 101
  • Powell County – Glen Green, 406-415-4040

“The Capital 360 landscape restoration efforts continue to build on the successful implementation of smaller-scale fuels reduction projects by many partners in the project area,” said Lori Ziehr, acting state conservationist for NRCS in Montana.

Other partners in the Capital 360 project area include the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Tri-County FireSafe Working Group, City of Helena, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Mortality associated with the mountain pine beetle is prevalent on more than 75 percent of the project area, resulting in above average fuel loading which could result in a high-intensity/high-severity wildfire. Conifers are also colonizing native grass and shrublands in the project area. Single-species colonization leads to a reduction of habitat diversity and wildlife forage while adding to the risk of large fire growth.

“Improving forest health and resiliency in the Capital 360 project area will provide multiple benefits to the communities in the area, including a reduced risk of large-scale wildfires that have the potential to impact their homes, community infrastructure, and backyard recreation areas,” said Ziehr. “These communities will enjoy greater security when wildfires occur due to improved conditions for suppression operations.”

Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame seeks nominations for Class of 2018

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame (MCHF) is seeking nominations for the 2018 Hall of Fame induction round. Every year, the MCHF honors living and historical figures that have made notable contributions to Montana’s western heritage.

“We invite people from across Montana to identify those in their communities who are most deserving of inclusion in the hall of fame,” said Bill Galt, board president. “Nominations are open and welcome from the public at large.”

2018 marks the eleventh year of honoring inductees. The Board of Trustees will cast votes to select inductees from each of the 12 Trustee Districts based on nominations from the public.

Nominees can be men, women, ranches, stage coach lines, animals, hotels, etc.—anyone or anything that has made a notable contribution to our Montana Western heritage. A full listing of inductees from 2011-2017, the 2018 Nomination Instructions, and more about the Hall of Fame induction process can be found online at

If you would like to make a nomination, you must contact the MCHF at or by calling (406) 653-3800 prior to the submission deadline to express your intent to nominate. Nominations must include a cover page, a two-page biography, and a high-quality photograph. All nomination documents must be in electronic format and emailed by May 31, 2018.

The 2018 Class of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame will be announced by press release by September 1, 2018. Winning inductees will be honored at the 2019 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Western Heritage Gathering.


The mission of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center is to “honor our cowboy way of life, American Indian cultures and collective Montana Western heritage.” We exist to serve as a resource to all who wish to see this way of life passed forward to the next generation. To learn more, visit

MDA Encouraging Support for Ag Literacy Program During Tax Season

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is encouraging Montanans to support the Montana Agriculture in the Classroom program this tax season by contributing to the voluntary check-off program when filing this year’s income taxes.

“As the average age of farmers and ranchers continues to rise, it’s more important than ever that we educate the next generation on the importance of agriculture,” said MDA Director Ben Thomas. “Contributing to the check-off allows filers to invest directly in students and teachers throughout Montana.”

Filers can make tax-deductible donations to the program by checking the box for Ag Literacy in Montana Schools, by selecting either line 69c on the long form or 18c on the EZ form. The form indicates $5 and $10 donation amounts, as well as a blank line to write in the filer’s designated donation amount.

The Montana Agriculture in the Classroom program provides schools and communities with opportunities to learn about agriculture in a fun and effective way, and seeks to instill appreciation for local agriculture and food production. The program provides teachers with timely, accurate, and integrated standards-based curriculum on Montana agriculture through “hands on, minds on” activities, while encouraging critical thinking among students about the role of agriculture in tomorrow’s world.

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