Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to host fire and drought seminar

Producers to discuss challenges and options following fire and drought

Montana Stockgrowers Foundation has joined with the Southeast Montana Livestock Association and the MSU Extension Service to provide a premier program to help livestock producers navigate management challenges following a devastating fire and drought season. Experts from around the country will address issues including how to manage the tax ramifications of drought influenced decisions, insurance, and risk management tools to assist in managing future risk. The program will begin at 1:00 pm, November 15 at the Range Riders Museum in Miles City, Montana. This event is free to the public.

For additional information, please contact the MSGA office at 406.442.3420.



Amy Iverson is a CPA in the Billings office of Wipfli CPA’s and Consultants. She specializes in working with those involved in agriculture and will present information on what options you have to manage tax issues related to decisions that are commonly made during the financial stress caused by drought conditions.

Brandon Willis is the owner of Rancher’s Insurance, LLC located in Utah. His expertise is helping ranchers manage their production risk through the use of forage, pasture, and rangeland insurance products. Brandon will provide information on how to decide if the available products might fit you particular situation and the mechanics of utilizing the various products.

Dr. Janna Kincheloe is the NDSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist located at the Hettinger Research and Extension Center. She will provide information on production strategies to manage through a drought. These include developing a drought management plan, efficient utilization of forages and alternative feeding options.

Dr. Andy Roberts, USDA-ARS Fort Keogh, Animal Research Scientist, research will be presented by Andy that shows how you can reduce the input cost of your cow herd while maintaining productivity through changes in your heifer development program.

Lance Vermeire, USDA-ARS Fort Keogh, Rangeland Ecologist. Lance has done extensive study on the effects of grazing on rangeland production following fire and drought. He will present strategies that allow for recovery of the range condition in the presence of grazing animals.


Advanced Genetic Technology in Beef Cattle Lectureship offered in Bozeman

In recent decades, genetic technology has evolved at a rapid pace. Keeping up with the genetic selection and evaluation innovations, and understanding which advancements are practical for your operation can be daunting. This lectureship will not only strengthen the foundational understanding of genetic principles among attendees, but it will also build upon them to enable attendees to apply advanced genetic technologies in the real world of seedstock and commercial cattle production.

Montana State University Extension has partnered with the King Ranch® Institute for Ranch Management to offer its Application of Advanced Genetic Technology in Beef Cattle lectureship May 8-9, 2017, in Bozeman at the GranTree Inn.

Drs. Matt Spangler and Bob Weaber, beef cattle genetics experts, will lead the lectureship.

Registration is $300, which includes all workbook materials, refreshments, and meals. Online registration is available here or you may call the KRIRM office at 361-593-5401. Download the agenda, view location and hotel information, and learn more about the learning objectives here.

Linda Swanz Named “Ranching Woman of the Year”


Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently recognized Linda Swanz as “Ranching Woman of the Year”. The announcement was made Friday, December 9 during the 132nd MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Radisson Hotel in Billings.

Linda (Hannah) Swanz grew up in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains south of Moore, MT. She is the daughter of J.C. (Jack) and Betty Hannah. Linda has four siblings—John (Jean) Hannah of Torrance, CA; Marge Hannah of Helena; and Carol (Pete) Hannah Hinson of Billings. Linda graduated from Moore High School and then the University of Montana and went on to work as a social worker.

She married John Swanz in 1968 and a few years later they moved to their current home, a ranch in the Snowy Mountains east of Judith Gap. Linda and John have two children, Lisa and Jason. Linda has dedicated her life to ranching, and by extension, her family, for the past 48 years. A constant presence in the life of her family, raising her children, and now continuing to be a huge part in the lives of her four grandsons.

This year’s Ranching Woman of the Year has always been there to lend a helping hand:  from turning out pairs during calving, making sure everyone had a meal during brandings and shipping, hauling trailers, keeping the house and kids running, and even driving that old self-propelled square baler…even though her feet didn’t reach the pedals!

Linda is involved in the Central Montana Cattlewomen, the Montana Cattlewomen, and the Montana Beef Council. She was a 4-H leader for many years, has received honorary FFA degrees, and has been involved in numerous other agricultural and community related activities.

The Ranching Woman of the Year award is an annual honor presented during MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show. Contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 to find out how you can nominate someone for next year’s recognition. To learn about previous honorees, visit


The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Ismay Rancher Wins Ford Truck at Stockgrowers Convention


Jess Drange of Ismay, MT was the lucky winners of a 2016 Ford Super Duty pickup given away by Montana Ford Stores and Montana Stockgrowers Association at the 132nd Annual MSGA Convention and Trade Show.



The Drange family is very excited to be this year’s recipients. After the drawing, Jess announced he will be driving the truck all over the state! Each year Montana Ford Stores donates a new Ford pickup to be given away to one lucky MSGA member attending the Annual Convention and Trade Show.


“The winning partnership with Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Ford Stores continues to grow and prosper,” according to MSGA President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon. “Each Fall we enjoy driving across the state visiting participating dealerships, thanking them for their commitment to agriculture and the Montana Stockgrowers.”


2016 was the eighth year of partnership between MSGA and Montana Ford Stores. MSGA Rancher, Feeder, Stocker and Young Stockgrower members are eligible to win the truck. An entry form must be completed and the member must be present at Annual Convention when the truck is given away.


The Montana Stockgrowers Association meets annually to discuss and vote on policy that guides the Association activity representing its members. To learn more about MSGA programs and membership, visit or contact the office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.


The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

2016 T-Bone Classic Gala and Golf Scramble

Ranchers and leaders from Montana’s business communities had a great time at Big Sky last week for the 2016 T-Bone Classic. The event included a gala dinner and golf tournament, Calcutta auction and a day of great golf on the Big Sky Golf Course with great views below Lone Peak.

The event benefits Montana Stockgrowers’ Research & Education Endowment Foundation and provides an opportunity for networking among leaders of Montana’s leading businesses and industries. The T-Bone Classic is the second largest tournament held at the Big Sky Golf Course.

This year’s winners included first place finisher – Tilleman Ag Equipment, second place – Erickson Financial Strategies and third place – Showdown. The calcutta winners were as follows: 1st place – Tilleman Ag Equipment, 2nd place – Bill Donald and 3rd place – Holden Herefords.

Teams getting ready!

The teams getting ready to tee off!

Thursday night’s gala dinner featured specialty cut T-Bone Steaks from cattle raised by Fred Wacker’s Cross Four Ranch in Miles City and provided by Open Prairie Natural Angus Beef.

A Calcutta auction raised $16,075 with prize money being paid out to the top three teams. The remaining dollars go to support MSGA’s Foundation programs in the areas of youth, education and leadership in Montana’s ranching communities.

Friday morning kicked off with a Welcome Brunch, teams then teed off for a shotgun start and played all 18 holes at the Big Sky Golf Course. An awards reception concluded the day’s events recognizing tournament and calcutta winners.

Montana Stockgrowers’ Research and Education Endowment Foundation wants to thank all sponsors and teams who showed up in support of this year’s T-Bone Classic. Pencil in the 2017 T-Bone Classic, August 2017 in Big Sky! To reserve your team’s spot in next year’s tournament, fill out the form provided below or click here to open the form in a new window.

2016 T-Bone Classic tournament winners - Tilleman Ag Equipment

2016 T-Bone Classic Tournament winners – Tilleman Ag Equipment

To view photos of this year’s T-Bone Classic events and golf teams, visit the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook and Flickr pages.

A big thank you to the sponsors that made this year’s T-Bone Classic a success: Timeless Spirits, Rabo AgriFinance, Montana Natural Poultry, LLC, Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Erickson Financial Strategies, Waddell and Reed, Northwest Farm Credit Farm Services, Ehlke Herefords, Loomix, Gorgeous Vodka, Pure West – Christie’s International Real Estate, BNSF, Wipfli LLP, and Grande Ranch!

Meet the Leadership Series – Shaelyn Meyer

Shaelyn Meyer



I grew up on a commercial cattle ranch 12 miles outside of Ekalaka. Following high school I completed 2 years of college at Montana State University- Bozeman with no real idea what I wanted to study. I decided that some time off to pursue other interests was in order so I moved home to the ranch to work for my dad. I started my first colt during that time and some family friends offered me the opportunity to go to Oklahoma and ride cutting horses for 2 weeks. My interest in cow horses was piqued to say the least! After a few more months working at home I found a job working for a cutting horse trainer in Laurel. After loping horses in about a billion circles I decided there had to be some better scenery out there so I inquired with a couple horse training outfits in Australia. Within a week I had a job lined up, a one way plane ticket bought and a very worried mother. I worked for Salt River Performance horses near Perth for part of the year where I starting colts, worked with problem horses and assisted with the equine breeding operation. From there I went to work on a ½ million acre cattle station in Northern Territory called Moolooloo which means “plenty of water” to the aboriginals. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of the colts on the place in between “musters”. I miss my time spent as a “jillaroo on the top end”!


MSU Agriculture Extension Agent – Pondera County

What sparked your interest in agriculture?

When I came home from Australia the family ranch was in the process of converting to an intensive grazing system so I was needed for a few months to help put in tanks and fencing. During that time I realized I wanted to study sustainable agriculture which I was able to do at Montana State. I completed an internship with MSU Extension before graduation in December of 2014 and that helped me get my current job which I started in April of 2015!

What makes a great leader?

I would never ask someone to do a job that I’m not willing to do myself.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

To operate a successful and sustainable ranching business and help others do the same.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to have my master’s degree and be back on the Meyer Ranch watching my dad enjoy his stress free retirement.

What do you hope to gain from the leadership series?

I hope to gain confidence as a leader and further develop my interpersonal skills, which are something that every great leader has.



2016 Cattle Industry Convention Update with Young Stockgrowers Chair, Lacey Ehlke

Young Stockgrowers Chair, Lacey Ehlke, gives us an update on San Diego and the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show


CattleFax Says Market Shock Is Nearly Over

Recent price shock in the market and insights about the turbulence ahead were the focus of the CattleFax Outlook Session on Thursday at the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show. More than 3,000 attendees were on hand to hear CattleFax CEO Randy Blach say he believes the market correction is mostly behind the cattle industry. He explained how tight global protein supplies and a strong export market in 2014 and 2015 led to the ‘perfect storm’ of market peaks and the significant drops seen in recent extremes.

“We are coming off of historic peaks in the cattle market, created by unique conditions in the global beef and protein markets,” said Blach. “Dynamics, specifically global beef supply, led to a large correction in price. That big market downward swing is nearly over now. However, the cycle shows prices continuing to trend lower in 2016, 2017, and 2018.”

Analysts predicted cattle feeders will see average losses near $200 per head, stocker operators will experience tight margins and the cow-calf sector can expect profitable margins. The team of economists expect fed cattle prices to average $130-145 in 2016. “The cow-calf margins will still be profitable, but substantially lower than in the past tow years,” said Kevin Good, Senior Analyst and Fed Cattle Market Specialist at CattleFax. “We predict the cattle feeder will have tight margins for the year overall with potential for profit mid-year.”

A two-year El-Nino weather pattern has replenished moisture conditions across the country, specifically the West coast, which saw some relief in 2015. The weather outlook appears favorable, especially for moisture conditions across the grasslands, according to Art Douglas, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Creighton University. “As we head into 2016, a split jet stream pattern will favor above normal precipitation from California to the southern Plains and the Southeast through March,” said Douglas. “In the Corn Belt, spring will be wetter-than-normal which will be accompanies by slower spring warming. Delays in fieldwork and planting dates are likely to result.”

CattleFax experts project $294 in added value per head due to exports in the year ahead, a $66 per head decline from 2014 values. This decrease in export potential is caused by a combination of a strong U.S. dollar, slowdown in global market and challenges with market access. Russia and China are still the biggest opportunities for U.S. beef but trade restrictions will continue to limit potential in the year ahead.

Beef imports are predicted to be down 8 percent due to an anticipated increase in domestic cow slaughter. Australian imports will decline due to the start of an expansion phase triggered by improvements in moisture conditions there. In the United States, CattleFax analysts expect to see herd growth moderate, with an increase of just 600,000 head added in 2016. That pace is slower than 2015, when producers added 1.1 million head of beef, but trade restrictions will continue to limit potential in the year ahead.

To learn more from the CattleFax Outlook Session or become a member, visit

Originally published by NCBA-Convention Edition.

Leadership Series Kicks Off


leadership series group photo

Group Photo: Front Row (L to R) – Brenda Ochs, Shaelyn Meyer, Heather Fryer, Tony Johnson, Julia Dafoe, Katelyn Dynneson, Trina Bradley, Lacey Sutherlin, Sarah Bohnenkamp. Back Row (L to R) – Weston Merrill, Bo Bevis, Chisholm Christensen, Casey Knudsen, Justin Iverson. Not pictured: Cole Cook. Photo courtesy of Ryan Goodman

Montana is home to a growing group of young professionals in the farming and ranching communities. These aspiring Millennials and younger Generation Xers are passionate about the lifestyle and impact they can have on the industry. To succeed in their careers on multi-generation ranches or by providing industry services, they’ll need tools in leadership, networking and business management.

During 2016, fourteen young ranchers are taking on this challenge through the Stockgrowers Leadership Series – a 12-month program hosted by the Montana Stockgrowers Association to help our future leaders succeed through their endeavors. The Leadership Series consists of workshops each month that will provide participants an opportunity to improve their skills in leadership, policy, business management, networking, communication and understanding of issues important to beef consumers.

Speaking with the Northern Ag Network, class member Heather Fryer of Hobson described the Leadership Series as a well-organized program and opportunity to work with a diverse group of her peers. “Everyone is busy, but we are the voice of Montana ranching and it is important to be involved as the industry evolves. The Leadership Series is a perfect opportunity to learn how to do that.”

On January 20-21, the Leadership Series met in Helena, Montana for a two-day workshop to kick off the program. 2016 participants come from all corners of the state and areas of the ranching communities. The class heard from leadership of Montana Stockgrowers, Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and Department of Livestock. Representatives each offered an overview of their organization’s structure, role working with Montana ranchers and shared advice from their experience on becoming influential leaders in the industry.

Leadership coach, Sarah Bohnenkamp, worked with the class in a five hour workshop, helping identify their strengths and roles in leading others, whether at home on the ranch or as organization members. The class worked through a number of activities to identify their personal leadership brand, how to leverage those strengths, and learn more about potential to have a leadership legacy. Each month this year, the class will continue building on leadership strengths through webinars and at-home assignments with Bohnenkamp.

While in Helena, the Leadership Series also toured the Montana state capitol, walking through the legislative process and viewing important committee rooms, as well as chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, where they may one day participate in the legislative process by attending committee meetings or testifying on important bills that influence the ranching industry.

During the Capitol tour, the class visited the Governor’s office and met with Tim Baker, Policy Advisor for Natural Resources. Baker offered insight into all the areas of policy involved with his role in the Governor’s office. He also shared advice with the group on being aware of these important issues and their path to being strong leaders in the industry.

The next meeting for the Leadership Series will take place in March in Helena as the class focuses on the policymaking process, learning how effective policy can be used to address issues faced by ranchers across the state. The class will also learn more about operating a Board of Directors meeting and hear from speakers on industry topics.

2016 is the inaugural year for the Stockgrowers Leadership Series, which is aimed at helping Montana’s next generation (ages 25-45) become stronger leaders of the ranching community. The Leadership Series is organized by Ryan Goodman of Helena with the help of Lacey Ehlke, Young Stockgrowers Chair from Townsend, and Tyrel Obrecht, Young Stockgrowers Vice-Chair from Lewistown.

Originally posted on Agriculture Proud

Miles City Rancher Wins Tractor Lease at Stockgrowers Convention

Fred Wacker Massey FergusonFred Wacker of Miles City and his wife, Gwen, were the lucky winners of a Massey Ferguson tractor lease given away by Montana Massey Ferguson dealers and Montana Stockgrowers Association at the 131st MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show on Saturday, December 5 at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings.

The Wacker family was very excited to be this year’s recipients of the 8-month/200-hour lease on a 130-horsepower tractor and loader. This is the second year Montana Massey Ferguson dealers have teamed up for the promotion, raffled off at the MSGA Convention and Trade Show.

“The partnership with Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Massey Ferguson dealers continues to grow and provide benefit for ranchers across the state,” according to MSGA President, Gene Curry of Valier. Proceeds from the sale of raffle tickets throughout the year go to benefit a number Stockgrowers programs for Montana ranchers.

Wacker is a third-generation Montana rancher. Cross Four Ranch operates in Custer and Rosebud Counties as a cow/calf, yearling, and a finished cattle operation. The entire Wacker family is involved in the operation and specializes in All Natural Cattle. Fred and his wife, Gwen, have four adult children: Sara Rehm, Julie Nowicki, Karen Martin, and Mike Wacker.

Fred currently serves as Second Vice President for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. Outside of the beef industry, Wacker has served on the Custer County Water & Sewer District Board (including four years as chairman), the Custer County Planning Board, and as president of the Miles City Kiwanis.

2015 was the second year of partnership between MSGA and Montana Massey Ferguson.

Click here for more 2015 Annual Convention coverage from Montana Stockgrowers.