Registration now open for the 6th Annual Young Ag Leadership Conference

Register now for the 2009 Young Ag Leadership Conference (YALC) October 2-4 at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena. This unique conference—a partnership between eight of Montana’s primary agricultural groups—allows young producers from throughout the state to come together across organization and commodity lines for hands-on workshops, discussion groups and networking.

The conference is designed for anyone ages 18-40 who is involved with or concerned about Montana’s agricultural industry. Conference hosts include Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana 4-H Foundation, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana FFA Foundation, Montana Grain Growers Association, Montana State University College of Agriculture, Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Wool Growers Association.

“This conference is a great opportunity to showcase agricultural groups in Montana working toward the same goal of developing the industry’s next generation of leaders,” said Peter Taylor, YALC planning committee chair. “We hope attendees walk away with a greater understanding of how important it is to get involved – for their industry and their future.”

The conference begins Friday, October 2 with registration beginning at 4 p.m. at the Red Lion, followed by a social, dinner and dance at the Kleffner Ranch just outside of Helena. Saturday will offer participants a selection of six different workshops, featuring guest presenters from the University of Wyoming, the National Carbon Offset Coalition, MSU Extension, and professional speaker Bob Treadway, along with other state and national businesses and organizations. Workshop topics include estate planning, beginning producer lending options, wind energy opportunities for landowners, climate change, and leadership development, to name a few. In addition, discussion groups led by organizational staff plus leadership from Montana’s legislature, agri-business and Congressional offices will allow attendees to ask the tough questions about issues facing their industry. Dinner and entertainment will round out Saturday’s events. Attendees are in for a real treat on Sunday morning as Bruce Vincent, a Libby, Montana native and Provider Pals founder, will wrap up the conference with a can’t-miss keynote on the importance of being apart of the vision for agriculture’s future.

Cost of registration for the YALC is only $25, with all meals provided. The registration deadline is September 25. To register for the YALC go to www.mfbf.org or contact Sue Ann Streufert at (406) 587-3153 or sueanns@mfbf.org to receive a registration form.

MSGA compiles book “The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started: A Century of Ranching in Montana” for December release

To commemorate its 125th Anniversary, the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is compiling a book featuring over 140 Montana ranches that are 100 years old or older. The book, “The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started: A Century of Ranching in Montana,” features present-day working livestock ranches that have been in the same family and location as when they were established over a century ago. Many of the ranches in the book were honored at MSGA’s 125th Anniversary Celebration in Miles City, June 10‐14, 2009.

The stories and photographs of these ranches comprise nearly 500 pages which will be published in this collectible hard‐bound book, edited by Linda Grosskopf and Nancy Morrison. The cover features a JK Ralston painting, “The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started” owned by Montana cattle industry fixture, Pat Goggins, who also contributed a Foreword to the book. Twelve Aubry Smith original drawings are included in the book, which also contains more than 1,000 photographs. “The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started: A Century of Ranching in Montana” will be released in early December this year.

“The stories of the ranches included in this book are a tribute to the perseverance and tradition of ranching in Montana,” said Tom Hougen, MSGA president. “The stories are inspiring—demonstrating the raw grit and determination it took to sustain a family ranch over the past 100 years. This book honors a way of life that has helped make Montana what it is today.”

MSGA is currently accepting pre-orders for “The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started: A Century of Ranching in Montana.” The price is $35, including shipping and handling, until Sept. 1. After Sept. 1, the price will be raised to $50, including shipping and handling. Order forms are available on MSGA’s website, http://www.mtbeef.org/ or you can call MSGA at (406) 442-3420 to make your order over the phone.

MSGA members Two Dot Land and Livestock Co., American Fork Ranch & Robert E. Lee Ranch Co. to be featured on 2009 Governor’s Range Tour

DNRC – Excellence and innovation in rangeland management will be on display at the 2009 Governor’s Range Tour, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17, and Friday, Sept. 18, in Harlowton, Mont.

Tour participants on the first day will visit the Two Dot Land and Livestock Co., where Zach Jones will discuss holistic grazing and management practices. The second stop will be at the American Fork Ranch where lunch will be served at the beautiful ranch headquarters. Following the meal, American Fork Ranch manager Jed Evjene will discuss his experiences with the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service for rangeland improvements and grazing management.

The next stop will be at the C Bar J Ranch, where owners Tom and Pam Stevens will demonstrate weed management with goat grazing. The last stop of the day will be at the town of Two Dot. Here Gary Olsen with the Wheatland County Weed District will show the integrated pest management plan on leafy spurge in the area.

A banquet at the Moose Lodge in Harlowton will finish off the day. Mike Smith will be the Master of Ceremonies, the crowd will enjoy a theatrical performance from the local group; The Jawbone Players. Governor Brian Schweitzer is the invited keynote speaker.

The second day of the tour will begin at the Judith Gap Wind Farm, with a presentation from John Bacon of Invenergy. The next stop will be at S & G Livestock to view the new Animal Feeding Operation. Following that, the tour will go to the Galloway Creek Ranch, where Julie Thorson will share her experience with the EQIP Program and range management over the years. The tour will conclude with the Robert E. Lee Ranch Co. Bob and Kathy Lee will discuss grass experiment plots and rangeland management.

The annual Governor’s Range Tour rotates around the state, recognizing landowners who excel in natural resource management practices. This event serves as a great place to view agricultural practices, meet new people and share experiences.

This year’s tour is hosted by the Upper Musselshell Conservation District, in cooperation with the Rangeland Resources Executive Committee (RREC) and the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC).

For more information about the 2009 Governor’s Range Tour or to register, visit the DNRC website at: www.dnrc.mt.gov or contact Heidi Olbert, State Coordinator, DNRC Rangeland Resource Program at (406) 444-6619; or Cheryl Miller with the Upper Musselshell Conservation District at (406) 632-5534 ext. 101.

Young Stockgrowers announce third annual “Cattle Crawl” dinner tour in Billings

Helena – The Third Annual Cattle Crawl, a progressive beef dinner tour of the Windmill, Bistro Enzo, Rex and the Montana Rib and Chop House restaurants in Billings, Mont. will take place Sept. 13 this year. The Cattle Crawl is a project of the Young Stockgrowers committee of the Montana Stockgrowers Association to acquaint urban consumers with producers and to encourage foodservice establishments to feature beef in a creative way.

Tours will begin at 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. at the Windmill, where diners will kick off the evening with a tenderloin kabob appetizer on a bed of parmesan mashed potatoes topped with a roasted red pepper sauce. The group will then board the bus to Bistro Enzo, where the chef will serve a traditional Greek salad with flank steak, roasted peppers, local feta, cucumber, and a lemon and oregano vinaigrette. The historic Rex restaurant will present a hanging tenderloin with a peppercorn sauce accompanied by au gratin potatoes and asparagus with a Hollandaise sauce. The second entrée from the Montana Rib and Chop House will feature a Southwestern skirt steak with grilled vegetables. The Cattle Crawl will then return to the Windmill for a chocolate mousse and berry parfait dessert and coffee. Wine will be available at each stop and participants will receive a commemorative wine glass.

The Cattle Crawl is made possible by Montana beef producers and their Checkoff dollars. Tickets are $75 per person or $140 per couple. For more information or to join the herd, please contact Rose Malisani at MSGA at (406) 442-3420. To learn more about Montana beef, please visit the Montana Beef Council website. To learn more about the Young Stockgrowers click here.

Want to bend Congressman Rehberg’s ear about something? Here’s your chance…

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today announced listening sessions in sixteen of Montana’s 56 counties in August. Rehberg makes it a point to visit each of Montana’s counties each congressional term.

“Traveling Montana and visiting with folks from every corner of the state is one of the best parts of my job” said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “It gives me a chance to hear from Montanans, many of whom who feel like Congress isn’t responsive to their concerns. Rather than a month of me telling folks what they should think, these listening sessions let me listen and learn from Montanans so I can bring some of that Western common sense to the debates in Washington, D.C.”

Rehberg’s full listening session tour for August is listed below.

Stillwater County Listening Session in Columbus
Thursday, August 6, 9 amColumbus City Hall
408 East 1st Avenue

Sweet Grass County Listening Session in Big Timber
Thursday, August 6, 12 Noon
U.S. Forest Service Building meeting room
225 Big Timber Loop Rd

Park County Listening Session in Livingston
Thursday, August 6, 3 pm
Park County Courthouse, Community Room
414 E Callender St #2

Golden Valley County Listening Session in Ryegate
Friday, August 7, 9 am
Courtroom of Golden Valley Courthouse
107 Kemp

Wheatland County Listening Session in Harlowton
Friday, August 7, 11 am
Harlowton Public Library
Conference Room
13 South Central Ave

Meagher County Listening Session in White Sulphur Springs
Friday, August 7, 3 pm
White Sulphur Springs City Hall Meeting Room
105 West Hampton

Petroleum County Listening Session in Winnett
Monday, August 10, 10 am
Winnett Courthouse, Courtroom
301 East Main St

Garfield County Listening Session in Jordan
Monday, August 10, 2 pm
Jordan Courthouse Courtroom
352 Leavitt Ave

Valley County Listening Session in Glasgow
Tuesday, August 11, 9 am
The Glasgow City Civic Center
319 3rd Street South

Phillips County Listening Session in Malta
Tuesday, August 11, 11:30 am
The Malta Courthouse Courtroom
314 South 2nd Ave. West

Chouteau County Listening Session in Fort Benton
Wednesday, August 12, 11:30 am
The Fort Benton Courthouse Courtroom
1308 Franklin St

Liberty County Listening Session in Chester
Wednesday, August 12, 3:00 pm
The Chester Courthouse Courtroom
111 1st St East

Judith Basin Listening Session in Stanford
Thursday, August 13, 10 am
Stanford Courthouse, MSU Extension Conference Room (lower level floor)
31 1st Ave

Fergus County Listening Session in Lewistown
Thursday, August 13, 1 pm
Central Montana Community Center
307 West Watson Street (right beside City Hall)

Toole County Listening Session in Shelby
Friday, August 28, 11 am
Courthouse Court Room
226 1st Street South

Glacier County Listening Session in Cut Bank
Friday, August 28, 3 pm
Cut Bank Voting Center
913 East Railroad Street across the street from the Football Field

Beef Quality Assurance Twilight Training to be held at Midland Bull Test in Columbus, Aug. 5

The Midland Bull Test Center in Columbus will host a free Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Twilight Training session on Aug. 5, from 4-7:30 p.m. The session will include low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, chute-side cattle treatment, animal care discussions and an industry update. A free dinner will be provided and attendees have the opportunity to become BQA certified. A special BQA project, “Ranchers Care,” will also be introduced.

This event is sponsored by Stockman Bank and the Montana Stockgrowers Association through a grant from the Montana Beef Council. For more information, contact Midland Bull Test at (406) 322-5597; Lars Hanson at the Stockman Bank in Billings at (406) 655-3943; or Clint Peck of Billings, Montana BQA director, at (406) 896-9068. To learn more about BQA programming, go to http://www.mtbqa.org.

Upcoming BQA Twilight Training Sessions will be held Aug. 27 at Ehlke Herefords in Townsend, Sept. 2 at the Wang Ranch in Baker, Sept. 10 at Thomas Herefords in Gold Creek, and Sept. 16 at Reminisce Angus Ranch/Big Sky Management in Dillon.

For more information about hosting a BQA Twilight Training session, contact Rose Malasani at (406) 442-3420.

Conservation Stewardship Program Alert

By Carl Mattson, Program Coordinator, Montana MarketManager

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up for 2009 is expected to be announced during the first half of August. The premier conservation program has undergone a substantial make over in the 2008 Farm Bill. One significant change will be program availability on a competitive application basis to all agricultural producers in Montana.

Although the rules for CSP have not been released and many of the particulars are still unknown at this time, MSGA thought it important to provide as much notice to members as possible. MSGA does know the following:

-Sign-up is expected to start in early August 2009. August 10th has been mentioned
-The sign-up period is anticipated to extend only through September 30, 2009
-Information will be available soon at your local NRCS office
-All agricultural operations are eligible to submit an application for a CSP contract
-Contracts will be awarded on a ranking system basis
-The ranking system will consider current and future conservation practices that address 5 determined Montana natural resource concerns centering around soil, water and wildlife
-A pre-determined number of acres will be available for enrollment in each state and contracts will be awarded to match the acres available
-The awarded contracts should be multi-year and for a substantial dollar amount

The timing for this CSP sign-up is not the most convenient for Montana livestock and crop producers but then they never have been. For those interested in submitting an application it will be important to stay in contact with your local NRCS office and gather the CSP information as soon as it becomes available. For those with access to the internet, information should also appear on the national and state NRCS website soon after the sign-up has been officially announced. MSGA suggests printing the available information. After acquiring the CSP information it is anticipated that a producer should be able to go through the information and determine whether he wishes to continue pursuing the application process.

NRCS will also be conducting as many CSP informational workshops as the short time period will allow. Your local NRCS staff will do their best to assist with the process but will likely find themselves similarly concerned with the constricted timeline. Like other USDA programs implementation of the CSP program has been held up in Washington D.C. for months; we are still awaiting the release of the rules. The NRCS staff from Washington D.C. to Montana is doing their very best to make this program available to producers before the end the nation’s fiscal year on September 30th. Please be patient as we all try to learn the process.

Authors of the 2008 Farm Bill intended the CSP to be available on a yearly basis to all livestock and crop producers in the United States for as long as the current legislation is in effect. If you are unable to assemble your operation’s information for this year’s CSP contract; MSGA anticipates there to be another opportunity each year through 2012. For more information contact the MSGA office at 406-442-3420.

After sharp industry criticism, feds drop NBEZ proposal; offer new “Designated Surveillance Area Plan”

From the Montana Stockgrower Update, July 24, 2009

The National Brucellosis Elimination Zone (NBEZ), a plan released earlier this year to regionalize the area around Yellowstone National Park for brucellosis, has been shelved by APHIS and an alternate proposal, the “Designated Surveillance Area Plan” (DSA) will be released soon.

MSGA, along with our counterparts in Idaho and Wyoming, met with APHIS in Washington D.C. in March to express concerns over the NBEZ proposal. Specifically, MSGA expressed concern that 1.) The plan was moving too fast with too little input from those ranchers who deal with this problem day in and day out; 2.) Creating such a zone would only serve to cordon off those ranchers without actually providing them any extra tools to combat the problem; 3.) The plan as it was written did not include any measurable goals for reducing or eliminating the disease in that area; and 4.) There was no sunset date as far as when ranchers in this area would no longer be in such a zone.

The industry groups from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho offered several suggestions to APHIS for how to best move forward in addressing the brucellosis problem from a regulatory standpoint. Our suggestions included 1.) Allow the states to conduct their own enhanced surveillance of the area, according to their own unique circumstances; 2.) Declare the entire country free of brucellosis (which under international standards, we already are, even with the few cases we have had in the past several years in the three states); and 3.) Focus APHIS’s limited resources on advancing brucellosis research so we can improve the tools we have to address brucellosis in the Yellowstone area.

The governors of Idaho and Wyoming vocally supported the efforts of the industry groups to encourage APHIS to reconsider their efforts. According to a recent press release from the Department of Livestock, after the NBEZ proposal “was met with skepticism by animal health officials and producers, a work group of state and federal officials went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan – the Designated Surveillance Area Plan (DSA) – that gives states more autonomy in drawing boundaries for brucellosis surveillance areas.” The DOL press release says that the DSA will focus eradication efforts on the Greater Yellowstone Area while relaxing strict regulations now in place nationally.

The plan had not been released at press time, but the Department of Livestock has scheduled two informational meetings in Billings and Bozeman in August. The Billings meeting will be held August 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Grand, 5500 Midland Rd. The Bozeman meeting will be August 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the Comfort Inn 1370 N. 7th Ave. Check the Department’s website http://liv.mt.gov for more information.

MSGA applauds efforts to regain brucellosis Class Free status

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service announced it has upgraded Montana’s brucellosis status from Class A to Class Free.

“This is a huge relief to cattle producers in Montana,” said Tom Hougen, president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “It has only been 10 months since we were officially downgraded, and the Montana Department of Livestock—especially State Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Zaluski—and APHIS should be commended for their efforts in returning Montana to Class Free status so quickly.”

Hougen added, “The entire livestock industry in Montana should also be commended for pulling together in the face of this difficult situation and undergoing burdensome testing requirements in order for the whole state to regain its Class Free Status.”

Montana must now remain free of brucellosis for 12 consecutive months to retain its Class Free status.