Brand Owners Reminded to Update Addresses

DOL – Every 10 years, the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) rerecords brands. With more than 55,000 active brands in the Big Sky, it’s a big job. It’s also an important job, as brands are a return address for your livestock – brands help prevent loss and theft of livestock, assist with the movement of livestock through markets channels, and are used to identify livestock in animal health emergencies.

“Brands are a big part of the state’s history,” said MDOL Brands Division administrator John Grainger. “It’s something people take seriously, and there’s some colorful history about rustlers who tried to beat the system and found the business end of a rope. It’s a system that’s worked well for 150 years, and it still works well today.”

In short, brands are rerecorded to keep DOL’s brand system – generally regarded as one the best in the nation – current, and that helps keep your livestock safe. Rerecord also allows brand owners to retain ownership of their brands, which is also a pretty big deal: Brands are possessions, and often have a family and historic value that can’t be measured by the cost of registration or rerecord fees. Brands that are not rerecorded are vacated and made available to the public.

“Brands will always be a fundamental part of the department’s operations, and rerecord is a fundamental part of keeping the system maintained,” Grainger said.

So, what does rerecord mean for you, the brand owner? It’s simple.
The first step is making sure your mailing address is up-to-date so that renewal notices get sent to the correct address. If your address has changed within the past 10 years – and many have with the restructuring of rural 911 systems – it needs to be updated. Addresses can be updated on the web site; by calling the Rerecord Hotline at 406/444-4999 (or secondary rerecord lines at 406/444-3812, 406/444-2045 or 406/444-9431); or by using mail-in cards available at brand offices, markets and other locations.

MDOL will send out brand renewal notices in January 2011, with a due date of December 31, 2011. The fee for rerecording, or renewing, a brand is the same as it was in 2001, $100, and has only been increased once in the past 30 years. If you do not receive your brand renewal notice by February 2011, please contact MDOL’s Brands Recorder at 406/444-3812.

“We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for brand owners to update up their address,” Grainger said. “We encourage people to use the online form, which is one of the web tools we’ve recently added to improve the delivery of services while improving our efficiency.”

Grainger reminded brand holders that there’s no way to get a head start on the process.

“Some people get antsy, but you can’t rerecord your brand until you receive a rerecord notice,” he said. “If you send us a check now, we’ll just have to send it back.”

For additional information regarding brands or brands rerecord, contact MDOL’s Brands Recorder (406/444-3812, 406/444-4999) or public information officer (406/444-9431).

For additional information on brands, please see…
Update your mailing address:;
New brands:;
Brand transfers:

MSU College of Ag announces visits of candidates for head of Dept. of Animal and Range Sciences

MSU – The Montana State University College of Agriculture is pleased to announce the campus interview visits of two candidates for the Department Head position for the Department of Animal and Range Sciences. Information about the candidates and their interview schedules can be found here. Each candidate will be giving a research seminar and an administrative philosophy seminar. We have also arranged time for the candidates to interact with members of the Montana animal and range community who have an interest in the department and this position. These times are listed below and flyers for each seminar are attached.

Dr. Charles Weems, University of Hawaii
Administrative Philosophy Seminar: Thursday February 18 at 4 p.m. in the Byker Auditorium, Chemistry Building
Ag Community Social: Thursday February 18 at 5:30 in the Aspen Room, GranTree Inn
Research Seminar: Friday February 19 at 10 a.m. in 231 Linfield Hall

Dr. Glenn Duff, University of Arizona
Administrative Philosophy Seminar: Thursday March 4 at 4 p.m. in 233 Strand Union Building
Ag Community Social: Thursday March 4 at 5:30 in the Aspen Room, GranTree Inn
Research Seminar: Friday March 5 at 2 p.m. in 233 Strand Union Building

DOL to host meetings on Official Calfhood Vaccination

DOL – The Montana Department of Livestock will host a series of meetings to talk with livestock producers about its preliminary proposal on statewide Official Calfhood Vaccination (OCV) for brucellosis, and will additionally solicit comment via an informal public participation process.
The proposal would, in short, require OCV for all sexually intact female cattle and bison not destined for slaughter. A copy of the proposal will be available at the meetings, and has also been posted on the department’s web site at

Currently, the state does not require cattle to be vaccinated against brucellosis except for the four counties (Beaverhead, Gallatin, Madison and Park counties) in the newly created brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area (DSA). A key issue is that buyers of Montana cattle could perceive that the state is doing less than neighboring states – Wyoming and Idaho both have statewide OCV requirements – to prevent transmission of the disease from infected elk and bison to cattle.

“There are advantages to becoming an OCV state, and it’s a good time to have that discussion,” said state veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski, who, as chair of the U.S. Animal Health Association’s subcommitttee on brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area, has helped the department play a leadership role in the development of brucellosis policy. “It’s a hot topic, though, and there will be concerns.”

At this point, the proposal is a just a starting point for discussion with the livestock and associated industries.

“Mostly, we just want to talk with producers to get their thoughts on statewide OCV,” Zaluski said. “Producers have legitimate questions, and our goal is providing information that enables them to have constructive, informed input. We want them to be aware of the potential benefits as well as any drawbacks that may exist.”

Meetings have been scheduled for:
Glasgow Stockyards – Wednesday, February 17, 3 p.m.;
Western Livestock Auction, Great Falls – Thursday February 18, 1 p.m.;
Miles City Livestock Commission – Monday, February 22, 1:30 p.m.;
Public Auction Yards, Billings – Tuesday, February 23, 1:30 p.m.;
Montana Livestock Company, Ramsay – Wednesday, February 24, 10 a.m.;
Headwaters Livestock Auction, Three Forks – Thursday, February 25, 1 p.m.

Public comment can be submitted via U.S Postal Service mail at Montana Department of Livestock, ATTN: OCV Comments/Animal Health Division, PO Box 200201, Helena MT, 59620-2001, and via email at

With 70 percent of the state’s cattle voluntarily vaccinated by livestock producers, Zaluski doesn’t believe the proposal would require a significant increase in the number of animals needing to be vaccinated.

“The only animals that will require vaccination are sexually intact females retained for the state’s breeding herd rather than those raised for beef,” he said.

The proposal comes as USDA considers changes to its federal brucellosis program.

“If APHIS (USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service) proceeds with its desire to eliminate the Class Free status system, it could put the state at a serious disadvantage,” Zaluski said, referring to a concept paper that outlines a new direction for federal brucellosis policy. “Having a statewide program assures our trading partners that we’re doing everything we can to assure brucellosis-free cattle.”

Statewide OCV, Zaluski added, would also reduce the potential for brucellosis-infected wildlife transmitting the disease to domestic livestock.

“Bottom line, having a statewide OCV rule will look better for states that import Montana cattle, and it will look better for wildlife advocates who say the state isn’t doing enough to prevent transmission of the disease,” Zaluski said.

Zaluski stressed that the proposal is preliminary, and that any decisions regarding OCV would be made by the Board of Livestock after public comment has been collected and evaluated and all possible ramifications of implementation have been examined.

“We’ve invested a lot of time in producer and industry participation in the development of brucellosis policy, including the BAP (Brucellosis Action Plan) and DSA (Designated Surveillance Area ),” Zaluski said. “This is no different, we want and need participation from producers and industry.”

The proposal, if enacted, would not affect current requirements for livestock producers operating within the DSA.

You may download the preliminary proposal here.

Improving Rural Vet Service Survey

If you are a rancher in Montana, please take a moment to fill out this survey and forward your answers to Jim Knight,, Associate Director of Extension at MSU. Jim is working with the Montana Veterinary Association to submit a proposal for a USDA program that pays off student loans for veterinarians who agree to practice in underserved rural areas. Please forward this on to others so we can provide Jim with a good data set for his proposal.

1. What county are you in?
2. How many miles is it from your ranch/farm to the nearest D.V.M. practice?
3. In the event THAT D.V.M. is not available, how many miles is it to the next D.V.M.?
4. For routine regulatory or non-emergency DVM service, how long do you wait:
a. Same day _______
b. 1-3 days ________
c. More than 3 days ______

Young Cattlemen’s Conference tour details announced; Applications due Feb. 15

Young cattlemen's conference tour

This year, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) will hold its 31st Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC) for a limited number of young industry leaders, June 2-11, 2010. This year’s tour is sponsored by Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., Five Rivers Cattle Feeding and John Deere.

MSGA’s Research, Education and Endowment Foundation (REEF) will nominate one person between the ages of 25 and 50 from Montana to attend the conference. REEF will pay the full cost of the program and provide $500 for travel costs.

The primary objective of the YCC is to develop leadership qualities in young cattlemen and expose them to all aspects of the beef industry. The tour helps young leaders understand all areas of our industry ranging from industry structure to issues management, from production research to marketing.

This year’s tour will begin in Denver with a comprehensive overview of the industry. The group will take an in-depth look at many of the issues affecting our industry and what NCBA is doing to address these issues on behalf of its members, plus receive a comprehensive view of market information from Cattle-Fax. The group will then travel to western Kansas to visit various cattle producing operations in the area. From there, the group will travel to Sioux City, Nebraska to tour Tyson Fresh Meats, one of the largest beef packing and processing plants in the world. Tyson will host the group and will be sharing with them their views of the beef industry from a processor standpoint. Chicago is the next destination. Here the group will visit the Chicago Board of Trade and the Bruss Company- a large meat purveyor. The participants will then travel to the nation’s Capitol. Here they will get a chance to meet with their respective congressmen and senators. In addition, the group will visit with a number of regulatory agencies that make decisions affecting agriculture.

The 2010 tour will be from June 3-10, 2010. Participants will need to arrive in Denver on June 2nd and may depart from Washington DC on June 11th. Participants are asked to commit to staying the entire trip.

Application forms are available on the MSGA website,, or by calling (406) 442-3420. Applications are due February 15. You must be a member of MSGA and NCBA to attend.

MSGA addresses brucellosis, EAJA, and NCBA structural change at 2010 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio

Last week, MSGA officers, members and staff attended the 2010 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio. Altogether, more than 6,000 people attended the convention. The MSGA delegation accomplished a lot at the meeting including further discussing the brucellosis issue with a top APHIS official, contributing to two major policies for NCBA, supporting the NCBA structural change recommendations, and seeing MSGA Past-President Bill Donald become NCBA President-Elect. (Bill is in the left of the picture with Tucker Hughes, MSGA 2nd VP, and Tom Hougen, MSGA President, to his right. MSGA 1st VP, Watty Taylor was also in attendance.)

MSGA discussed some of our members’ concerns about APHIS’s concept paper for revamping the National Brucellosis Eradication Program with Dr. Brian McCluskey, APHIS Veterinary Services Western Regional Director, who was in attendance at NCBA’s Cattle Health Committee meeting. Specifically, MSGA asked McCluskey what would happen if Montana were to discover another case of brucellosis in cattle before the new rules, which are two years from completion, are formerly adopted. McCluskey said that in such a case, APHIS will apply the newly developed concepts even though the official rules are not yet finalized. McCluskey said that APHIS is currently utilizing the new concepts with the latest brucellosis case in Idaho. McCluskey also addressed the difference between split-state status, regionalization, and the new Designated Surveillance Area model. He said that the differences between all of these are very clear: split-state status and regionalization are both clearly defined by APHIS and the World Animal Health Organization, and usually indicate a difference in class status from the surrounding areas with international trade implications. Designated Surveillance Areas (DSAs) are not based on declaring a separate class status and are designed to gradually shrink their boundaries based on scientific risk analyses. DSAs have flexibility and agility while split-state status and regionalization are fixed and rigid.

In the area of cattle health, MSGA worked with Wyoming and Idaho to modify NCBA’s policy on brucellosis. The new policy implies that NCBA will pursue priorities and strategies regarding both the modification of the National Brucellosis Eradication Program and the eradication of brucellosis from the Greater Yellowstone Area. New policy also directs NCBA to work to maintain producers’ ability to keep their cattle healthy through the use of approved antibiotics.

In the area of federal lands, property rights and land management, MSGA worked to get approval of the policy we submitted on reform of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). While EAJA was established by Congress to ensure that individuals, small businesses or public-interest groups with limited financial resources could seek judicial recourse from unreasonable government actions, a lack of federal oversight has allowed the Act to be abused, particularly by environmental-activist organizations which often target ranchers under the guise of “public interest.” In a six-year period, non-profit environmental groups have filed more than 1,500 lawsuits, and in turn the federal government has paid out billions in taxpayer dollars in settlements and legal fees under EAJA and other fee-shifting statutes in cases against the U.S. government.

The NCBA Board of Directors approved a task force report by a 201-13 margin, putting in motion the creation of a new governance structure, which would feature a smaller NCBA Board of Directors and a new House of Delegates that would include the organization’s state affiliates, state beef councils, industry/breed organizations, and product/allied industry councils. The Federation of State Beef Councils would be housed within the House of Delegates, and continue to conduct its federation duties as specified in the Beef Promotion and Research Act & Order. Also, the membership committee and board of directors accepted the dues increase first presented at the 2009 Summer Conference. This increase establishes the minimum dues level at $100, increases all membership categories accordingly, and increases the feeder dues from 10 cents/head marketed to 12.5 cents/head. Prior to this change, Montana’s minimum dues level for NCBA was $90.

Melville rancher and MSGA Past-President, Bill Donald, was elected to serve as the new NCBA President-Elect. This puts him on track to become President of NCBA in 2011. MSGA commends Bill for all of his hard work and leadership. Montana will be well represented at NCBA in the next two years!

Grazinglands reduce greenhouse gases

Rangeland Ecology & Management—A green pasture with grazing animals offers an idyllic image of our natural environment. With the current focus on climate change, such a pasture has much more to offer than image. Through effective policy implementation, grazinglands can reduce greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration and emissions reductions offset credits.

Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in the ground or oceans, slowing the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere enters the soil of grazinglands through the natural process of photosynthesis by green plants. The subsequent cycling turns some of that carbon into soil organic carbon—and into an environmental, societal and economic benefit for every country with these grazinglands.

“Offset credits are a viable, important cost-containment mechanism for cap-and-trade approaches to mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reductions programs,” according to an article in the journal Rangeland Ecology & Management. Greenhouse gas emission policies that can provide incentives and monetary awards for land management that leads to greater soil carbon offer much potential. Land management practices are integral to maintaining or improving grasslands with the goal of protecting soil, water and air quality as well as wildlife habitat.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially identified carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases as public health hazards. Greenhouse gases and grazinglands are the topic of a special issue of the journal Rangeland Ecology & Management, featuring contributions from an international group of rangeland ecologists, economists, and social scientists. One of the articles in the January 2010 issue discusses societal benefits and policy implications of soil carbon sequestration from the U.S. perspective, while another article examines the matter in West Africa.

In the United States, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the “Farm Bill”) contains new programs enabling agricultural producers to increase soil carbon in grazingland soils, but no regional or state mandatory policies exist that recognize this as a certifiable offset. Legislation currently in the U.S. Congress would recognize soil carbon sequestration, including on grazinglands, as a valid offset. Agricultural mitigation strategies are likely to be recognized and adopted for the future environmental framework.

In less developed countries with high poverty rates, credits offer a socioeconomic opportunity. However, carbon offsets from agricultural sources are currently limited under regulatory cap-and-trade regimes, and prices in voluntary markets are relatively low, the article reports.

About 2 percent of the global soil organic carbon reserves are estimated to be in West Africa—more than any other single region of the world. Using carbon credits for poverty reduction and to avoid further degradation or to restore lightly degraded lands is an achievable method to sequester carbon at very low cost over extensive areas. Improving the management of West African grazinglands can increase livestock productivity and agricultural income as well, thus improving the situation of some of the world’s poorest people.

For the full text of the article, “Soil Carbon Sequestration in Grazinglands: Societal Benefits and Policy Implications,” visit

For the full text of the article, “Supplying Carbon Sequestration from West African Rangelands: Opportunities and Barriers,” visit


About Rangeland Ecology & Management
Rangeland Ecology & Management is a peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Range Management that is published six times a year. The journal provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of research information, concepts, and philosophies pertaining to the function, management, and sustainable use of global rangeland resources. For more information on the society and journal, visit:

Lewis & Clark Conservation District to host riparian area best management practices listening session

The Lewis & Clark Conservation District, in conjunction with the Montana Association of Conservation Districts and UM-Helena College of Technology, will host a listening session to gather information on riparian area best management practices Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 5-7 p.m. at the Main Lecture Hall at UM-Helena College of Technology, 1115 North Roberts, Helena . If you have experiences or ideas for Best Management Practices in riparian areas alongside Montana’s rivers and streams, bring your stories, pictures, and experiences to help LCCD compile a “Best of the Best” resource document. This document will help urban and suburban landowners, agriculture, local governments, builders, transportation managers, recreationists, etc. work to protect riparian areas. If you are unable to attend, but have experiences to share, please contact Mary Ellen Wolfe, CIVIL DIALOGUE, 420 W. Curtiss, Bozeman, MT 59715 or call (406) 209-6545. For more information, contact Chris Evans at (406) 449-5000, ext. 112.

MSGA member, Gene Surber, honored with Range Leader award

DNRC – The Governor’s Rangeland Resources Executive Committee (RREC) announced today that ranchers Bob and Debbie Gibbs of Jordan and private consultant Gene Surber of Belgrade have been chosen as recipients of the 2009 Range Leader of the Year awards.

“The Gibbses and Gene Surber are genuine leaders in the field of range management,” said Heidi Olbert, Rangeland Resources Program Specialist with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. “Their commitment to education and the principles of stewardship represents the best of Montana agriculture.”

Olbert said the Gibbs family’s two large pastures of native grassland were continuously grazed. After noticing a decline in range conditions, the couple decided it was time to consider new ways of managing their land.

“They installed cross fences and implemented a rest-rotation grazing plan,” Olbert said. “As a result, they were able to give one pasture a full season of rest from grazing each year.”

The couple also made use of “chiseling,” a low-impact form of plowing, on their rested pastures. Olbert said that technique helped break up heavy concentrations of club moss and improved soil conditions.

“Their treated pastures now have more native species, including forbs, and are more productive. Within a year they started to notice more songbirds than in previous years.”

In addition to the rangeland improvement, the Gibbses also added water developments in upland sites. That has improved grazing distribution across their pastures, and also improved the health of riparian areas on the ranch.

“It’s a great outcome for both the Gibbses and the natural resources,” said Olbert. “They are seeing heavier weaning weights for their calves, and the grasslands and riparian areas are doing great. The Gibbses wanted to improve their native rangeland, they were open to trying some new and different ideas, and it paid off.”

Gene Surber worked as the natural resource specialist in the Animal and Range Sciences Department of Montana State University from 1994 to 2006; prior that, he served for 22 years as a county agricultural extension agent in Gallatin and Park counties.

“Gene’s leadership in agriculture is unsurpassed. He has educated so many Montanans in the areas of crop production, weed control, commodity marketing and water quality,” said Olbert. “Gene coordinated the Ag Lenders School and the Western Integrated Ranch Education (WIRE) program, and has served as lead on the beef portion for the Environmental Management Systems, a national project that encouraged landowners to voluntarily address important environmental issues such as water quality. We’re lucky to have Gene in Montana.”

Bob and Debbie Gibbs and Gene Surber received their leadership awards last week in Havre during the 2010 Winter Grazing Seminar sponsored by Montana DNRC.

For more information on the Rangeland Resources Program, the Range Leader Award, or other grazing and range management efforts sponsored by DNRC, contact Heidi Olbert at (406) 444-6619, or visit the DNRC website.

New MSU President to appear on Montana ag programs

Montana State University’s new President, Waded Cruzado, will be the featured guest on the Northern Ag Network’s “Voices of Montana” program with host Aaron Flint. The broadcast will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. This is a great opportunity to get to know President Cruzado and hear her vision for MSU. You can listen on one of the stations below or via the Northern Broadcasting System website at The archived interview will also be available on this site.

Cruzado will also be a guest on Montana Ag Live on Montana Public TV on May 23, 2010. The topic will be “MSU’s President Cruzado’s Views of the Land Grant Mission Relative to the College of Agriculture and Montana’s Agricultural Industries.”

Voices of Montana Affiliates

Billings KBLG 910 AM
Butte KXTL 1370 AM
Glendive KDZN 96.5 FM
Great Falls KQDI 1450 AM
Helena KCAP 1340 AM
Kalispell KJJR 880 AM
Lewistown KXLO 1230 AM
Libby KTNY 101.7 FM
Miles City KMTA 1050 AM
Missoula KPMT 930 AM
Scobey KCGM 95.7 FM
Shelby KSEN 1150 AM
Wolf Point KVCK 92.7 FM