Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit membership organization, has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. Our mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame to honor inductees at Induction Ceremony & Western Heritage Gathering in Great Falls, Feb. 9

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (MCHF & WHC) extends an invitation to all to attend the Annual MCHF Induction Ceremony & Western Heritage Gathering, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at the Best Western Heritage Inn in Great Falls.

“This year we celebrate our 13th gathering and 11th class of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame,” said MCHF & WHC President Bill Galt. “The inductees embody the spirit of our Montana communities and way of life. Please join us in Great Falls for this special event to preserve our Montana Western heritage and pass it on to the next generation.”

The Inductee Recognition Ceremony Brunch will begin at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the notable accomplishments and lasting legacies of the inductees to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Tickets are $30 per person. Early registration is recommended as this event sells out well in advance each year!

The Cowboy Ball and Benefit Auction will kick off at 7:00 p.m. This event will feature a Chuckwagon Buffet dinner and live Western music by Big Sky Country. A silent and live auction will feature unique Western items. Tickets to the Cowboy Ball are $75 per person or $570 for an eight-person table.

Register by calling (406) 653-3800, or email Christy@montanacowboyfame.org. Reserve a hotel room at the Best Western Heritage Inn by calling (406) 761-1900.

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Montana Grazing Lands Education and Demonstration Project Funding Available

The Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) is accepting applications for mini-grants and demonstration projects for 2019.

The mini-grants will provide funding for educational events throughout the year and support partners and organizations with an interest in the conservation, education, and awareness of grazing lands and natural resources in Montana.

Mini-grant funding requests are limited to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $1,000. There is no application deadline. Submissions will be considered year-round by the Montana GLCI steering committee.

“The GLCI mini-grants and demonstration projects help organizations to both test and implement advanced resource solutions, as well as educate Montanans young and old about those advancements and the value of our grazing lands,” said Kirt Walstad, Montana GLCI co-coordinator.

Demonstration project applications are due February 18, 2019. The current focus is on innovative projects addressing grazing management, soil, and rangeland health, concentrated animal feeding operations/animal feeding operations, and noxious weeds on private Montana grazing lands.

Applications will be accepted from groups of individuals, non-governmental organizations, and state or local units of government. The Montana GLCI steering committee places special emphasis on cooperative efforts working with partners. Individual projects will be considered only if the project provides broad-scale, community-wide impacts and education.

Projects must be initiated in 2019. Funding will be allocated on an annual basis, which is dependent upon the yearly Montana GLCI budget allocation. Application submission does not guarantee project funding will be available. All applicants must show a one-to-one match for project costs.

Get more information about both the mini-grant and demonstration project funding opportunities, including application requirements and forms, at www.mtglci.org.

USDA Launches Second Round of Trade Mitigation Payments

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today launched the second and final round of trade mitigation payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.  Producers of certain commodities will now be eligible to receive Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for the second half of their 2018 production.

“The President reaffirmed his support for American farmers and ranchers and made good on his promise, authorizing the second round of payments to be made in short order. While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.  This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year,” said Perdue.

Secretary Perdue announced in July that USDA would act to aid farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.  President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to help protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. In September, USDA initiated three programs to aid American agriculture in sustaining the short-term damages associated with the trade disputes and securing long-term, stable export markets.

Details of programs currently employed by USDA:

  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has been administering MFP to provide the first payments to almond, corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, fresh sweet cherry, and wheat producers since September 2018 for the first 50 percent of their 2018 production.
  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is administering a food purchase and distribution program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is distributing these commodities through nutrition assistance programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. So far, USDA has procured some portion of 16 of the 29 commodities included in the program, totaling more than 4,500 truckloads of food. AMS will continue purchasing commodities for delivery throughout 2019.
  • Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, $200 million is being made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions. The application period closed in November with more than $600 million in requested activities from more than 70 organizations. FAS will announce ATP funding awards in early January.

Market Facilitation Program

Producers need only sign-up once for the MFP to be eligible for the first and second payments. The MFP sign-up period opened in September and runs through January 15, 2019, with information and instructions provided at www.farmers.gov/mfp.  Producers must complete an application by January 15, 2019 but have until May 1, 2019 to certify their 2018 production.  The MFP provides payments to almond, cotton, corn, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, fresh sweet cherry, and wheat producers who have been significantly impacted by actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of traditional exports. The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation CCC Charter Act and is under the administration of USDA’s FSA. Eligible producers should apply after harvest is complete, as payments will only be issued once production is reported.

For farmers who have already applied, completed harvest, and certified their 2018 production, a second payment will be issued on the remaining 50 percent of the producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for the specific commodity.

Market Facilitation Program

Commodity

First and Second Payment Rate

Est. Total Payment**

(in $1,000s)

Almonds (shelled)

$0.03 / lb.

$63,300

Cotton

$0.06 / lb.

$553,800

Corn

$0.01 / bu.

$192,000

Dairy (milk)

$0.12 / cwt.

$254,800

Pork (hogs)

$8.00 / head

$580,600

Soybeans

$1.65 / bu.

$7,259,400

Sorghum

$0.86 / bu.

$313,600

Sweet Cherries (fresh)

$0.16 / lb.

$111,500

Wheat

$0.14 / bu.

$238,400

Total

$9,567,400

** Total payment rate on 100% of production

MFP payments are limited to a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat capped per person or legal entity.  MFP payments are also limited to a combined $125,000 for dairy and hog producers, and a combined $125,000 for fresh sweet cherry and almond producers. Applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

For more further information or to locate and contact local FSA offices, interested producers can visit www.farmers.gov.

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U.S. Beef Gains New Market Access in Morocco

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the government of Morocco has agreed to allow imports of U.S. beef and beef products into Morocco. 2018 is the first year that U.S. beef and poultry exporters have access to Morocco’s market under the terms of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA).  Morocco opened its market to U.S. poultry in August, 2018.

“President Trump continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products.  New access to the Moroccan market for beef and beef products is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products,” said Ambassador Lighthizer.  “I welcome Morocco’s agreement to allow imports of U.S. beef and look forward to growing our shipments to Morocco.”

“Finding new markets for American agricultural products has been a priority for the Trump Administration from day one, and the opening of the Moroccan market is good news for our producers,” said Secretary Perdue.  “American beef is the best in the world, and once Moroccans get a taste of it, they’ll surely want more.”

In 2017, the United States was the world’s third largest beef exporter, with global sales of beef and beef products valued at $7.3 billion.  As of November 2018, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Morocco exceeded $512 million.  Initial estimates indicate that Morocco would be an $80 million market for U.S. beef and beef products.  Morocco had prohibited imports of U.S. beef.

Under the  leadership of USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Amb. Gregg Doud and the direction of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ken Isley, U.S. and Moroccan officials met to negotiate a health certificate and the terms for the import of U.S. high quality and standard quality beef into Morocco.  Representatives also discussed improvements to the administration of Morocco’s wheat tariff-rate quota and other agriculture and SPS issues, and will continue this work through the agriculture and SPS subcommittees under the FTA.

More details on requirements for exporting to Morocco will be available from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library at:  https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products/export-library-requirements-by-country/Morocco.

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Secretary Perdue Names NRCS Chief

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Matthew J. “Matt” Lohr to serve as Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In his role, Lohr will provide leadership for NRCS and its mission to support America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in their voluntary conservation efforts through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide.

“Matt has committed his entire life to the betterment of agriculture,” Perdue said. “The knowledge and experience he brings to the table will help ensure our locally-led, science-based approach continues to offer farmers the conservation solutions needed to enhance their environment and commercial viability.”

Lohr, raised on a century farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, now owns and operates Valley Pike Farm, Inc., with his wife Beth and their six children. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Lohr held public office, serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006-2010. In 2008, Lohr was awarded Legislator of the Year in honor of his work as an ambassador for economic and community development in Virginia. He then served as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. More recently, Lohr worked as Knowledge Center Director for Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative that provides resources and education outreach to local farmers and the community. Since June 2017, he has been farming full-time on the family operation, which includes poultry, beef cattle, row crops, and sweet corn.

“I am honored and humbled to serve America’s agricultural industry in this new capacity,” Lohr said. “As a 5th generation farmer, I care deeply about conserving and protecting our most valuable agricultural resources. I look forward to the chance to lead this valuable agency and assist our producers nationwide with their conservation practices.”

NRCS, through voluntary natural resource conservation programs, works side-by-side with producers, local conservation districts, and other partners to protect and conserve natural resources and build sustainable farming solutions through soil conservation on private lands throughout the United States. For more information on NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Extending the ELD Delay for Livestock Haulers

Livestock haulers across the country are currently exempt from implementing electronic logging devices (ELDs). The question is: For how much longer?

A few months ago, NCBA worked closely with allies in Congress to secure a temporary exemption through December 7, 2018. With less than ten days to go before that exemption expires, NCBA has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to remind lawmakers that a further extension is necessary.

“The livestock industry needs additional time to work with Congress and the Administration on a long-term solution to overly-restrictive Hours of Service rules,” said Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera. “Extending the ELD implementation delay for livestock haulers will give us more breathing room while that process moves forward.”

A draft fiscal year 2019 government spending bill includes a provision that would delay ELD implementation for livestock haulers until September 30, 2019. Keeping that provision included in any spending bill is an immediate priority.

NCBA is also looking forward to further conversations with the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the recent petition that requests flexibility for livestock haulers on Hours of Service (HOS) requirements. Authored by industry groups including NCBA and the Livestock Marketing Association, the petition asks for increased drive time for livestock haulers and includes a plan for working with the DOT on additional fatigue-management practices. The petition has already garnered bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress (read the letters of support here and here). As a next step, DOT is expected to open a public comment period on the petition.

MSGA has been closely working with NCBA along with the Montana Congressional Delegation to find a permanent fix for Livestock Haulers.

Three Things to Know: USDA-FDA Announcement on Regulating Lab-Grown Fake Meat

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) threw a wrench in the Friday evening plans of many fake meat watchers. Just after 4:30 pm, the agencies announced they had agreed on a framework for regulating lab-grown fake meat products.

Here are three things every cattle and beef producer should know about the recent announcement.

  1. USDA takes the primary. Under the announced framework, the USDA would have the primary role in ensuring that lab-grown fake meat is held to the same food safety and labeling standards as real beef. The FDA would be responsible for all things cellular, including collection of cell samples and cell growth. But oversight of labeling and “harvest” (when cells are turned into food products) would still rest with USDA.
  2. This is only the beginning. The announced framework is a positive step, but many more details need to be worked out before lab-grown fake meat products come to market. The USDA-FDA announcement is like a skeleton; now the federal agencies need to put (real) meat on the bones. To start, both agencies extended the public comment period on the regulation of lab-grown fake meat. Producers and consumers can make their voice heard by submitting comes in support of USDA oversight. Comments can be submitted here until December 26, 2018.
  3. The labeling question remains. The framework gave no indication of how lab-grown fake meat products will ultimately be labeled. (Considering lab-grown products are not even available for independent analysis, that is not surprising.) The good news is that under USDA oversight, the process will be based on sound science and the label will have to be approved before lab-grown products hit the market. NCBA policy explicitly supports “the definition of beef to only include products derived from actual livestock raised by cattle farmers and ranchers and harvested for human consumption.”

USDA Issues Safety-Net and Conservation Payments to Montana Farmers

USDA Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that $151,943,503 has been paid to Montana farms that enrolled in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) for 2017 market downturns.  The amount of 2017 ARC and PLC will increase as payment processing continues through the coming months.  Additionally, Montana FSA will distribute $41,185,864 in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments to landowners for their commitment to conservation stewardship.

PLC payments have triggered for 2017 barley, canola, corn, grain sorghum, wheat and other crops. In the next few months payments will be triggered for rice, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, crambe, and sesame seed. Producers with bases enrolled in ARC for 2017 crops can visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc for updated crop yields, prices, revenue and payment rates. In Montana, 55 counties have experienced a drop in price and/or revenues below the benchmark price established by the ARC or PLC programs and will receive payments.

ARC and PLC payments by county can vary because average county yields will differ.

Also, USDA began issuing 2018 CRP payments to support voluntary conservation efforts on private lands. In Montana, 3,338 landowners will receive compensation for their efforts to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat.

For more information about USDA programs or to locate the nearest USDA Service Center, visit www.farmers.gov.

USDA Reminds Producers of Disaster Program Deadlines

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds Montana producers who experienced losses from natural disasters during the 2017 and 2018 calendar years that they may be eligible for assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP):

ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish who have suffered losses due to an adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards, disease, water shortages and wildfires. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs.

For 2017 and 2018 ELAP, producers must file a notice of loss and application for payment at their local FSA office by Dec. 3, 2018 for losses occurring from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2018.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP):

LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock owners or contract growers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality, or injury resulting in reduced value, caused by an eligible loss condition.

For 2017 and 2018 LIP, a livestock owner or contract grower must file a notice of loss the later of 30 calendar days from when the loss of livestock is first apparent, or Dec. 3, 2018.

For 2017 losses, a livestock owner or contract grower must file an application for payment by Dec. 3, 2018. A 2017 Notice of Loss must be on file with the local FSA office prior to filing a 2017 Application for Payment.

For 2018 losses, a livestock owner or contract grower must file an application for payment by, March 1, 2019. A 2018 Notice of Loss must be on file with the local FSA office prior to filing a 2018 Application for Payment.

Tree Assistance Program (TAP):

TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines lost due to natural disasters. Payment eligibility is triggered when a mortality loss in excess of 15 percent on a stand (adjusted for normal mortality) occurs due to natural disaster.

For 2017 and 2018 TAP losses growers have until the later of Dec. 3, 2018, or 90 calendar days after the disaster event or date when the loss of trees becomes apparent to submit an application with supporting documentation.

Other Amendments to the 2014 Farm Bill by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

In February, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made several changes to FSA disaster programs. This includes eliminating the $20 million fiscal year funding cap for ELAP, eliminating the $125,000 payment limitation for LIP for 2017 and future years and allowing producers to receive a payment under LIP for injured livestock that are sold for a reduced price due to an eligible event.

As a result of these changes, starting June 4, producers were allowed to submit ELAP, LIP and LFP applications for 2017 losses if they reached the payment limitation under the previous rules. The application periods for these programs for the 2017 program year will close on Dec. 3, 2018. Producers who already submitted applications and received decisions on their applications for these years do not need to file again but can reapply if they have additional losses or their application or notice of loss was denied because it was late filed.

Contact your local FSA office for program deadlines. For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs or to find your local USDA Service Center, visit https://www.farmers.gov/.