Schweitzer Vetoes Coal Bed Water Measure

Governor Schweitzer was quick on the draw with his veto pen this week and struck down HB 575. The bill sponsored by Represenative Bill McChesney, a Democrat from Miles City was designed to revise water laws in Montana relating to coal bed methane water use. Currently, as a result of litigation ranchers cannot be permitted to use coal bed methane water for watering their livestock. Nor can ranchers use the water for any other beneficial use.

Many ranchers from southeastern Montana came to Helena to testify in favor of the measure. They said the use of this water could make a positive difference in the productivity of their ranches and their livestock. The water is already permitted to discharge into rivers and holding ponds but it would not be allowed for watering cattle. From a livestock watering perspective this bill made sense!

Brucellosis Action Plan to take effect May 15; testing may be required in seven counties

MDOL – The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) today announced it expects its Brucellosis Action Plan to be implemented by May 15. Designed to support the marketability of Montana cattle and enhance the state’s prospects for regaining brucellosis-free status, the plan will primarily affect livestock producers in a seven-county area surrounding Yellowstone National Park.

“Starting on May 15, producers in the seven counties around Yellowstone Park may be required to test their cattle for brucellosis, and those producers who want to sell or move cattle to a county outside that area will be required to test,” said Dr. Marty Zaluski, state veterinarian.

Zaluski emphasized that the state Legislature approved funding to support costs of the action plan, which will help offset the burden on producers. The seven counties designated for increased surveillance by the Brucellosis Action Plan (BAP), identified in the plan as “Area 1,” are Beaverhead, Carbon, Gallatin, Madison, Park, Stillwater and Sweetgrass counties.

The BAP will require producers in Area 1 to complete a risk survey that the department will use to prioritize testing requirements, Zaluski explained. He said the department will then follow up with a letter to each producer to clarify his or her specific testing requirements. In addition, he said the plan will require testing of all cattle 12 months of age and older going to market or sold to another producer, and cattle moving to a county outside the targeted area.

“We want to assure both in-state and out-of-state cattle buyers, along with officials from other states, that we are doing all we can to reduce the risks of brucellosis,” Zaluski said. “These extra testing requirements are an important part of our strategy to preserve the marketability of Montana cattle as we work to regain our brucellosis-free status.”

The tests will be evaluated at the department’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, typically with a one-day turn-around time, he said. The seven counties were identified as increased-risk because the only known source of brucellosis comes from Yellowstone National Park’s bison and free-ranging elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

The BAP will remain in effect for six months after Montana regains its brucellosis-free status, Zaluski said. The department plans to apply for Class Free status on May 27, and hopes for a favorable decision from USDA on its application soon thereafter.

More information about the BAP, including answers to “Frequently Asked Questions,” is available at the agency’s website at http://mt.gov/liv/.

New web service offered to help control game damage

Doecowhunt.com – Recently, a Montana company launched a free online service for Montana farmers and ranchers experiencing game damage problems. Doecowhunt.com is a new web service aimed directly at excessive numbers of wildlife damaging croplands and haystacks. The website is simple, easy to use, and loads quickly on rural dialup internet connections.

Currently, the only recourse landowners have to control wildlife is to open their land to public hunting, either through the FWP Block Management program, or through a self managed system. Both methods have their drawbacks. Most hunters are looking to harvest bucks and bulls while farmers and ranchers need to harvest does and cows. Therein lies the rub.

Doecowhunt.com offers a novel solution: matching hunters willing and even eager to harvest female wildlife with landowners suffering crop damage. The website works by first registering a landowner’s contact info in a secure, password protected database. The landowner then enrolls their land parcels in the database according to hunting districts and species available.

Beginning May 1, 2009, doe/cow hunters will be able to view the number of acres enrolled in their hunting districts. If enough acres have been enrolled to interest them, hunters may then proceed to register and purchase a listing in the hunter database. Hunters will choose districts or regions and species for which they have doe/cow tags. A profile page may be filled out with a picture and info describing themselves to landowners.

Prior to the hunting season, landowners will be reminded to return to the website and begin inviting hunters who have registered in their districts. Invitations will be generated through the website, protecting the identity of both parties. Once an invitation has been accepted the website has done its job for both the landowner and the hunter. Hunters get tasty backstraps while helping out a local farmer or rancher with their crop damage problems.

Doecowhunt.com is owned and operated by Carl and Patti Lee of Belgrade, Montana. Carl is a lifelong hunter and 20 year Montana resident. Patti is a 5th generation Montanan with homesteader roots in the Sweetgrass Hills (Tomshek family) and Brockway (Haglund Ranch) areas.

Landowners interested in this concept of wildlife control are invited to visit the website to learn more and enroll their properties. Areas with more land enrolled will attract more hunters for landowners to choose from when setting up their own doe/cow hunts.

Working Stock Dog Clinic to be held in Belgrade May 22-24

May 22-24, Rose Cattle Company and Circle L Arena in Belgrade will present a Working Stock Dog Clinic with Elvin Kopp of That’ll Do Ranch. The class will start on Friday at 3 p.m. and run until 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, classes will be hands-on in the arena from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Participant fee is $350 for all three days and a half price fee is available to audit the class. For more information, or to register, please contact John Rose at (406) 285-6849 or (406) 580-6849. Class size is limited, please call early.

Range Riders orientation camp set for May 28-30 in Cameron

Press Release from Keystone Conservation

Range Riders: Supporting the Coexistence of Wolves and Livestock

Bozeman – “How can increasing wolf populations and successful livestock operations coexist?” This is the question to be posed at a three-day workshop scheduled for late May. The Madison Valley Ranchlands Group and Keystone Conservation are offering a forum for sharing information about ranching near wolves and an orientation to range riding for livestock producers and riders. By gathering people raising livestock near wolves and biologists intent on making coexistence work, the orientation offers the chance to gain insight into wolf/livestock interactions and share experience on successful (and unsuccessful) practices.

Wolves represent a major new challenge to livestock production in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. In an attempt to reduce conflict between wolves and livestock, the Antelope Basin Range Riders program began in 2004, as a collaborative effort of the Madison Valley Ranchlands Group and Keystone Conservation. Each summer, Range Riders Jim and Marilyn Powers patrol 35,000 acres of public land in Antelope Basin, near Henry’s Lake on the Montana/Idaho border. The Riders pursue the task of keeping wolves and cattle apart through a combination of vigilant observation, tracking, herding, and non-lethal hazing techniques. They have shown exceptional skill at their work. Very few cattle or wolves have been lost during their tenure, despite growing numbers of wolves. This camp will provide an opportunity for others to learn from their vast experience, as well as a forum for a wide variety of participants to share their expertise.

The Range Riders Orientation Camp will take place on May 28-30, 2009, at the Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area, south of Cameron, Montana. The program will include time afield alongside Range Riders Jim and Marilyn Powers, as well as in-camp presentation and discussion sessions devoted to understanding wolf ecology and the variety of tools and practices that can be applied to reduce wolflivestock conflict. For more information, livestock producers or riders interested in attending the orientation camp should contact Cecily Costello, Keystone Conservation, 406-284-3477, ccostello@keystoneconservation.us or Lane Adamson, Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, 406-682-3259, mvranch@3rivers.net.

About the Madison Valley Ranchlands Group
The Madison Valley Ranchlands Group works to protect the ranching way of life and the biologically healthy open spaces on which ranching depends. See www.madisonvalleyranchlands.org.

About Keystone Conservation
Keystone Conservation has worked to protect and restore native predators and their habitats in the Northern Rockies since 1991. Keystone Conservation pioneers innovative solutions that help people and wildlife coexist. See www.keystoneconservation.us.

MSGA excited to announce partnership with Montana Ford Dealers; members will have chance to win brand new Ford F-150 truck!

Today the Montana Stockgrowers Association announced its exciting new partnership with Montana Ford Dealers, designating Ford “The Official Truck of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.”

“We are so thrilled to have partnered with Ford,” said Tom Hougen, MSGA president. “Ranchers rely on quality, dependable trucks that can hold up to the demands of a working ranch. Ford trucks have a rich history and a strong reputation with ranchers, so we think this is going to be a great program for our members.”

One lucky MSGA member will drive home with full ownership of a 2009 Ford F-150 truck at MSGA’s annual convention in Billings, December 10-12. Must be current MSGA member and present at the Grand Finale Banquet to win.

MSGA is also kicking off its “Spring Membership Roundup.” In honor of MSGA’s 125th anniversary this year, MSGA is offering a special new membership for $125. MSGA will celebrate its 125th anniversary June 10-13 in Miles City. Planned events include a joint anniversary party with the Miles City Club, complete with a traditional pork dinner, period dress and a mustache/beard contest; a breakfast celebrating frontier photographer Evelyn Cameron and honoring 100 year-or-older working livestock ranches; the Stockmen’s Ball; a horse drawn parade down Main Street, including wagon trains; a ranch rodeo; and a street dance. There will also be a golf scramble, a variety of tours in the Miles City area, wonderful music performances, commemorative item auctions and great food!

“If you are not already a member, there has never been a better time to join,” Hougen said. “We are celebrating a great history of serving the cattle industry in Montana, and now members have about a 1 in 500 chance of winning a brand new Ford truck!”

For more information about the MSGA/Ford partnership, MSGA’s 125th Anniversary Celebration, or to find out how to become a member, please visit www.mtbeef.org or call (406) 442-3420.

Montana Livestock Forum, Nutrition Conference set for April 21, 22

From MSU News Service

BOZEMAN — Meaningless information that cattle buyers don’t value any more is one of the many topics that will be discussed during this year’s Montana Livestock Forum and Nutrition Conference in Bozeman.

The conference, titled “They’re Black and They’ve had their Shots … Any other Questions?,” will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, April 21 and 22, at the Gran Tree Inn.

Ranchers will hear a variety of presentations during the annual conference sponsored by the Montana Feed Association and Montana State University Extension. They’ll learn about five places they can save money and five places they can spend it, for example. They’ll hear the results of a National Animal Identification System study on cattle identification, receive an update on MSU’s new Animal Bioscience Building and hear predictions about cattle prices in the next five years. They’ll hear talks on value-added issues, beef industry and consumer demand, and more.

The first speaker in the Beef Cattle Lecture Series will be Ted Schroeder from Kansas State University. The series was established with an endowment created by MSU chemistry professor Paul Grieco and his wife, Barbara, with the MSU Foundation.

Cost to attend both days of the conference is $65. Attending one day only costs $45 for Tuesday and $30 for Wednesday. To register, call (406) 994-3414, send an e-mail to anitag@montana.edu or write Anita Gray, 221 Linfield Hall, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. 59717.

The conference agenda is:
Tuesday, April 21
11:30 a.m. — Registration.
12:35 p.m. — Welcome and introductions. John Paterson, MSU Extension beef specialist.
12:40 p.m. — The MSU, Montana Feed Association and Montana Department of Agriculture Partnership. Don Siefert, Silent Herder.
12:55 p.m. — Update on MSU’s Animal Bioscience Building and what it means to Montanans. Turk Stovall, Origen.
1:25 p.m. — Five places to save and five places to spend money on the ranch this year. Paterson.
2:15 p.m. — To ID or not ID? Results of the National Animal Identification System study. Gary Brester, MSU.
3 p.m. — Value-added. More than just vaccines. Jane Boles, MSU.
3:15 p.m. — Beef product sampling. Boles and meats class.
3:45 p.m. — They’re black and they’ve had all their shots — and other meaningless information that cattle buyers don’t value any more. Darrell Wilkes, ABS Global.
5 p.m. — Social.
6 to 8 p.m. — Dinner and presentation of scholarships. Keynote address on “Beef Industry and Consumer Demand: Prescription for Prosperity” by Ted Schroeder of Kansas State, first recipient of the Animal and Range Sciences Beef Cattle Lectureship.

Wednesday, April 22
7 a.m. — Judging of student posters, breakfast buffet. Pat Hatfield, MSU.
8 a.m. — Protein supplementation of cattle: Show me the data. Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University.
8:50 a.m. — Fetal programming and heifer development, before and after birth. Rick Funston, University of Nebraska.
9:45 a.m. — Break
10:15 a.m. — Homegrown energy: Systems of forage production for Montana. Dennis Cash, MSU.
11 a.m. — Graduate student award presentation. Hatfield.
11:10 to 11:20 a.m. — Closing comments. Paterson and Seifert.

Jan French named BOL chair

Today, at the beginning of the Board of Livestock meeting, Jan French announced that she had been named chairman of the board. No new appointees were announced. Two seats remain vacant after the resignations of former chairman, Bill Hedstrom, who represented the dairy industry, and Becky Weed who represented the sheep industry.

Weed resigns from Board of Livestock, next meeting March 9 & 10

Earlier this week, the Department of Livestock announced that Governor Brain Schweitzer had accepted the resignation of Becky Weed from the Board of Livestock. Weed was appointed by Schweitzer in 2007 as a representative of the sheep industry.

From our discussions with Weed, it is clear that she was forced to resign. She recently sold the majority of her sheep and Schweitzer cited this as his reason for asking for her resignation–despite the fact that she had informed the administration and industry groups of her plans a month ago and no objection was raised. She still has a few sheep and continues to run her woolen mill at her Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company in Belgrade. There have been other members in the recent past who have had only a small number of the livestock of the industry they represented, so this begs the question of what really prompted Schweitzer to remove Weed from the board? That remains unclear at this point.

Throughout the forced resignation ordeal, Weed has received support from several livestock industry associations despite initially being a somewhat controversial appointment. While not always agreeing with her viewpoints, it is safe to say that most groups recognized the hard work and genuine concern for the livestock industry displayed by Weed.

The seven-member board now has two vacancies, and no chairperson has been appointed to fill the seat of Bill Hedstrom. Presumably, vice chair, Jan French, is filling in during the interim. Last week the appointment of Brett DeBruycker as a representative of the cattle industry was confirmed by the Senate. Ed Waldner, recently appointed swine industry representative, will be up for confirmation later this session.

The next Montana Board of Livestock meeting will be held March 9-10 at the Department of Public Health & Human Services Auditorium (111 N. Sanders; Capitol Complex Map). The meeting is scheduled to run from 1-5 p.m. on March 9, and from 8 a.m.–noon on March 10. For information, call Sherry Rust at (406) 444-9321. Click here for the agenda.

Legislature is heating up…

Things are really starting to heat up at the Legislature this week as legislators try to have their bills heard before the Transmittal deadline. The deadline of Feb. 26 (also the mid point of the session) is quickly approaching and we have heard that any general bill not heard in committee by the 20th will not have much of a chance of surviving. (After Feb.26, bills that have not passed one chamber and moved on to the other will die. Appropriation and Revenue bills have until the last week in March or so.) Next week’s slate is quickly filling up with bills that have the potential to impact Montana’s livestock industry. Below, please find a select list of bills we are watching:

HB 418 – Authorize investor owned livestock slaughter and processing plants (Edward Butcher, R-Winifred). Will be heard by the House Agriculture Committee.
HB 487 – Classify as business inventories certain farm implements and construction equip. (Walter McNutt, R-Sidney) Will be heard by House Taxation Committee today.
HB 254 – Monitor and report on greenhouse gas emissions (Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman). Hearing 2/16/09 in the House Natural Resources Committee.
SB 396 – Alter criteria for permitting certain changes to points of diversion (Bob Story, R-Park City). Will be heard 2/16/09 in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
HB 482 – State assistance for economic damage caused by brucellosis (David Howard, R-Park City). Will be heard by House Agriculture Committee 2/17/09.
HB 314 – Revise fish and game laws—game animal damage mitigation act (Kendall Van Dyk, D-Billings). Will be heard by House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee on 2/17/09.
HB 558 – Establish the community hunting access partnership (Bill McChesney, D-Miles City). Will be heard by House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee on 2/17/09.
SB 337 – Revise laws governing bison–re: translocation of quarantined bison (John Brenden, R-Scobey). Will be heard by Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee on 2/17/09.
SR 7 – Confirm appointees to Board of Livestock (Donald Steinbeisser, R-Sidney). Will be heard 2/19/09 in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee.
SB 183 – Revise wolf policy (Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman). Will be heard 2/19/09 in Senate Fish and game Committee.
HB 430 – Fine for barbwire fences across navigable water (Anders Blewett, D-Great Falls). Will be heard 2/19/09 in the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee.
HB 455 – Big sky rivers act (Michele Reinhart, D-Missoula). Will be heard 2/19/09 in the House Local Government Committee.
SB 423 – Montana river and stream protection (Verdell Jackson R-Kalispell). Will be heard by Senate Local Government Committee. No hearing scheduled yet.
HB 3 – Supplemental appropriations (includes funding for Brucellosis Action Plan) Will be heard by House Appropriations Committee. No hearing scheduled yet.

***To email your legislator about any of these bills, please click here. Stay tuned for Action Alerts from MSGA on some of these bills.***