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.***

Veseth Cattle Company Honored at 2009 Cattle Industry Convention

Dale and Janet Veseth were honored as the Region V Environmental Stewardship Award winners at the 2009 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix last week. Please click on the video above to see their introduction.

Hedstrom resigns as Board of Livestock chairman

The Department of Livestock has indicated that Bill Hedstrom has resigned as chairman of the Board of Livestock. Hedstrom, from Kalispell, was the board’s dairy representative in addition to his duties as chair. He has served as chair since 2005.

The timing of his resignation followed a hearing on a bill relating to the milk control board, a board that has faced much controversy in the past year. Hedstrom is rumored to have testified at this hearing, though we cannot conclusively link the hearing and the resignation. At this time, there has been no word from the Governor’s office as to a replacement. The next BOL meeting is scheduled for March 9-10 in Helena.

Brucellosis funding would be appropriated from the General Fund in House Bill 3

Funding for the Montana Brucellosis Action Plan (which was given final approval by the Board of Livestock on Jan. 13, 2009) is in House Bill 3, sponsored by Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, by request of the office of Budget and Program Planning. HB 3 would appropriate money to various state agencies for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. The Department of Livestock would receive $2,375,784 from the General Fund for funding for brucellosis under the bill as it is currently drafted. The balance remaining in the Brucellosis appropriation on June 30, 2009, up to $2 million, is appropriated for fiscal year 2010. The bill also includes $3 million from State Special Revenue for the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for wildfire suppression. The Crime Control Division would receive $15,000 of State Special Revenue for a domestic violence program and the Department of Transportation would receive $2.6 million of State Special Revenue and $17.4 million Federal Special Revenue for construction.

Government estimates one in 200 children is a vegetarian

A recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found one in 200 U.S. children under 18 years of age is a vegetarian. According to the study, a vegetarian diet is one totally devoid of meat – red or white.

The study is the government’s first estimate of vegetarianism in children. “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007” used data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey to report estimates of complementary and alternative medicine use among U.S. adults and children, including estimates of diet-based therapies. When reporting on vegetarianism in the adult population, the study found adults following a vegetarian diet decreased 0.1 percent from 2002 to 2007.

The Associated Press ran a piece about the study, which was picked up by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Charlotte Observer and the Chicago Tribune. According to the Associated Press piece, vegetarians say it’s animal welfare, not health, that most often causes kids to stop eating meat. According to the article, “Anecdotally, adolescent vegetarianism seems to be rising, thanks in part to YouTube animal slaughter videos that shock the developing sensibilities of many U.S. children.”

Additionally, 31 states and the District of Columbia aired at least one broadcast segment about the report findings. Most segments discussed the number of children vegetarians, what it means to be vegetarian and the potential nutrient deficiencies associated with vegetarianism. Broadcasts often noted most youths turn to a vegetarian diet for animal welfare reasons. The study also has received significant attention online. The Associated Press article was posted to several vegetarian-themed blogs including “Healthy Lifestyle with Vegetarian,” “Miami Vegan Blog” and “The Vegan Treehouse.”

An article by the Center for Consumer Freedom highlighted the fact that the percent of vegetarian children appears to have decreased from 2 percent of Americans aged 6 to 17 in 2001 to the current estimate from CDC of 0.5 percent. According to the article, “An Associated Press story is making the rounds this week concerning a CDC report on vegetarianism among American kids and teens. It’s being touted as evidence that meat-free dieting is on the upswing for youths, but guess what? History shows the data mean just the opposite.”

Although the percent of vegetarian children appears to have decreased in recent years, this study may spark questions about children and meatless diets or about animal welfare. We encourage you to monitor pickup of the Associated Press article in your local newspaper and respond online or in print, as appropriate. In addition, we are mobilizing online response to the piece by producers and third-party experts. Please refer to the messages below to respond to questions about vegetarianism in children. As a reminder, animal welfare talking points are available on the Extranet.

Funded by The Beef Checkoff

CDC Childhood Vegetarianism Report Talking Points:

-CDC’s finding that even a low percent of children are choosing a vegetarian lifestyle is alarming because of the dire importance of proper nutrition to growing and developing bodies and brains.

-The role of high-quality protein in the diet of growing boys and girls can’t be overlooked. Lean beef fits dietary recommendations while also providing valuable nutrients for kids’ growing bodies. Just one serving of lean beef is a good or excellent source of nine essential nutrients: protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin.

-Children are in a critical state of development and both extreme diets and the epidemic of obesity are leading health issues. Research has found there are a high percentage of girls who do not meet the needs for specific nutrients, such as iron and zinc, both vital to the development of this age group.

-It’s important for children to eat nutrient-rich foods – like lean meats – to keep them energized and attentive throughout the school day. Lean beef is a naturally rich source of several nutrients, including iron, zinc and vitamin B12, which play critical roles in cognitive development and functioning, and help kids remember what they learn at school each day.

Source: NCBA

Governor appoints new member to Board of Livestock

On Friday, January 9, Governor Schweitzer appointed Ed Waldner of Chester to the Board of Livestock. Jan French was redesignated as a cattle representative to fill the seat vacated by Meg Smith and Waldner filled the swine producer seat. Waldner’s term will end March1, 2011.

The Board of Livestock will meet today and tomorrow in Helena. Click here for the agenda. Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. Marty Zaluski will discuss the Brucellosis Action Plan and the IBMP Adaptive Management Plan. MSGA has some continuing concerns about the funding of the BAP. Zaluski has said that he has requested over $2 million from the state to cover testing and other associated costs of the plan. However, with the recent state budget concerns, MSGA is worried the money will not be available. Check back for more information as the meeting progresses.

Young Stockgrowers Conference to be held in Helena, Jan. 22 and 23

On Jan. 22 and 23, the Young Stockgrowers will gather in Helena for the 2009 Young Stockgrowers Conference. Held during every legislative session, the conference features a legislative training, tour of the Capitol building, interactive workshops, educational speakers, policy reviews, and meetings with legislators. On Thursday evening, Jan. 22, attendees will enjoy a social sponsored by Montana Livestock Ag Credit and participate in a dinner with some of Montana’s legislative leaders and leaders from the agricultural industry.

The price for the conference is $35/person and will be held at the Best Western Helena Great Northern Hotel. Applications are available at www.mtbeef.org and are due Jan. 19. The conference is sponsored by the Bank of the Rockies, Montana Livestock Ag Credit and the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Research Education and Endowment Fund. For more information, contact MSGA at 442-3420.

MSGA’s 125th anniversary: A five star celebration “back where it all began”

Nearly 125 years ago, a group of seven men, led by Col. Thomas J. Bryan, met at the newly formed Miles City Club and created the Eastern Montana Stockgrowers Association. Later, across the state in Helena, another group of men, led by Granville Stuart, formed the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The members of these two groups decided to merge them into the one Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) that exists today.

This spring, MSGA will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in Miles City, June 10-13. The 125th celebration will follow MSGA’s mid-year meetings which will take place Wednesday, June 10 through Friday morning, June 12. Thursday night will feature a joint 125th celebration with the Miles City Club. Attendees are encouraged to don period dress for an evening that will include history, music, and the traditional roast pork dinner. (In the early days, the Stockgrowers did not want to eat their inventory.)

Friday morning will begin with a breakfast celebrating frontier photographer ‘Lady’ Evelyn Cameron and honoring Montana’s 100-year-or-older working livestock ranches. After the conclusion of MSGA’s business meetings, the official 125th kickoff will ensue with a fun-filled review of the past 125 years. Following lunch, a golf scramble or variety of tours will be available to choose from. Friday will wrap up with the Stockmen’s Ball at the fairgrounds with a delicious meal (including beef provided by the Montana Beef Council), Barn Players performance, Brett Badgett Commemorative Bronze auction, ranch rodeo cowboy calcutta, and dancing to music by Whisky River.

Saturday’s highlights will include a horse drawn parade down Main Street. Only 1959 and earlier automobiles or tractors will be seen pulling floats. Various wagon trains will be converging upon Miles City and will take a trip down the parade route as well. On Saturday afternoon, participants will find excitement at the fairgrounds arena in the form of a traditional ranch rodeo. The evening will wrap up back on Main Street for a street dance.

This is a one-of-a-kind chance to celebrate the days of the Wild West. Join the Montana Stockgrowers in Miles City for a five star celebration “back where it all began!” For more information, visit www.mtbeef.org, or call (406) 853-0411 or (406) 442-3420.

Press Release: Informational Meetings on Brucellosis Action Plan Scheduled

DOL – The Montana Department of Livestock will discuss its brucellosis action plan with livestock producers at a series of informational meetings in mid-January and early February.

Meetings have been scheduled for Beaverhead, Carbon, Gallatin, Madison, Stillwater and Sweet Grass counties.

State veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski said the meetings are a continuation of the department’s efforts to keep livestock producers involved and informed.

“We want to make sure producers know exactly what the (brucellosis action) plan means for their operations,” Zaluski said. “The meetings will give producers a chance to discuss the plan and ask questions.”

The plan, which can be viewed or downloaded and printed from MDOL’s web site at http://liv.mt.gov/liv/Brucellosis/Revised%20BAP_112008.pdf, is designed to help the state regain its Brucellosis Class Free status as quickly as possible. It was developed by work group that included livestock producers, veterinarians, livestock market operators, and representatives from industry organizations such as the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Cattlemen’s Association and Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

After a five-week public comment period that lead to significant revisions of the draft plan, the revised plan received preliminary approval from the Board of Livestock at its November meeting.

Dates, times and locations of meetings:

· January 13: Gallatin County – Three Forks, Headwaters Livestock, 11:45 a.m. The informational session will be included on the agenda of the Gallatin Beef Producers annual educational meeting. Contact: Gallatin County Extension, 406/388-3213

· January 20: Madison County – Ennis, Ennis Firehall, 3 p.m. Contact: MSU Extension agent Andrea Sarchet, 406/287-3282.

· January 22: Sweet Grass County – Big Timber, Big Timber Library, 1:30 p.m. Contact: MSU Extension agent Mark King, 406/932-5146.

· January 23: Beaverhead County – Dillion/Fairgrounds/4-H Building, 1:30 p.m. Contact: MSU Extension agent JP Tanner, 406/ 683-3785.

· January 28: Stillwater County – Columbus, Fairgrounds/Little Metra, 6:30 p.m. Contact: MSU Extension agents Lindsay Wallace or Lee Schmelzer, 406/322-8035.

· February 2: Carbon County, Bridger, location to be determined, 6:30 p.m. Contact: MSU Extension agent Travis Standley, 406/962-3522.

Details on a meeting for Park County livestock producers, which will likely be held in early February, are pending.

MDOL will also make an informational presentation at the Montana Veterinary Medical Association annual winter meeting in late January, and for livestock markets and market veterinarians.

Montana had been designated as Brucellosis Class Free since 1985, but lost that status earlier this year after the second of two brucellosis-infected cows were found within a one-year period. The state is eligible to reapply for Class Free Status in May, 2009.

For additional information about brucellosis or the brucellosis action plan, see MDOL’s brucellosis update page at http://liv.mt.gov/Brucellosis/index.asp.