Ranchers meet in Billings to elect leaders and set policy

800 ranchers from across the state gathered in Billings, MT Dec 7-9 at the Radisson Hotel for the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s 132nd Annual Convention and Trade Show.

The three-day convention featured several speakers to help ranchers learn about innovative tools and technologies available in the industry. Highlights also included nightly NFR viewing and Calcutta auction, live music from Insufficient Funds Band, over $100,000 in prizes awarded and a trade show with 100 exhibitors representing many services across the ranching industry.

Members had the opportunity to discuss and vote on resolutions that guide policy activity for the Stockgrowers Association leading into the 2017 legislative session. Important topics of discussion included wildlife and disease management, water law and tax policies.

Tracy Brunner, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, highlighted Thursday’s Opening General Session, sharing the priorities of ranchers at a national level.

During the Northern Ag Network Lunch, ranchers learned more about exports and the global market from John Hinners, Jr., Assistant Vice President of Industry Relations with U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Members elected new directors and officers while in Billings. Bryan Mussard of Dillon, MT was elected President of MSGA. Bryan, along with his wife, Marcia, and family operate Reminisce Angus which sells 100 bulls annually and runs 350 mother cows. Bryan has been actively involved in the commercial feeding business for 40 years.  His operation weans, backgrounds, and develops 10-12,000 head of cattle annually and collects genetic data for customers through their Tracker marketing program. Bryan also manages ranches through the Big West Management Program. He will serve a two-year term through December 2018. Fred Wacker of Miles City was elected First Vice President and Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney was elected Second Vice President. They will also serve two-year terms through December 2018.

Convention coverage, photos, videos and information about membership programs can be found on the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook page or website, mtbeef.org.

The following are highlights in recognitions and awards during the Convention:

-Elections were held to fill positions on the Board of Directors due to expiring terms. Bryan Mussard of Dillon was elected as the new President of MSGA. Dan Moore of Miles City was elected to represent the Southeast District. Shane Eaton of Terry was elected to represent Southeast ranchers. Ed Fryer of White Sulphur Springs was elected to represent South Central ranchers. Race King of Dillon was reelected to serve a second term. Outgoing Board members include Tim Todd of Ryegate representing the South Central district, Terry Haughian of Kinsey representing the Southeast District, and Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney representing the Northeast District.

-Lacey Ehlke of Townsend was elected to a second term as Chair of the Young Stockgrowers committee. Tyrel Obrecht of Lewistown was re-elected as Vice-Chair. Ehlke and Obrecht will represent the Young Stockgrowers on the MSGA Board of Directors.

-The 2016 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP) was presented to Two Creek Monture Ranch of Ovando, MT. The award was accepted by ranch managers Wayne and Karalee Slaght with their family. The ranch is a commercial cow/calf operation near Ovando, which exemplifies the qualities of ranchers focused on environmental stewardship, sustainability and conservation. As Montana ESAP winners, Two Creek Monture will compete at the regional level for the national ESAP recognition in Denver next summer.

-Linda Swanz was recognized as the Ranching Woman of the Year. Linda grew up in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains south of Moore, MT. She and her husband, John, have 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.


-12 Cattlemen’s College workshops offered attendees several great opportunities for interactive learning about the tools available to improve management and record keeping on their ranches. Topics covered included cattle marketing, estate planning, nutrition, reproduction and cattle health.

-Montana Ford Stores continued their sponsorship for the eighth year to give one lucky MSGA member a 2016 Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup. This year’s winner was Jess Drange. Jess and his wife, Junita, ranch at their ranch near Ismay.

-For the second year, Montana Massey Ferguson dealers donated a tractor lease, which was raffled on Friday evening. Incoming President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon, won the 8-month/200-hour lease on the 130-hp tractor and loader. NutraLix donated a saddle, which went to Marian Hanson.

-Top Hand Club recognition was awarded to Bo Bevis of Winnett, who received a trip to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention.

-Policy meetings offered opportunity for attendees to hear updates on several issues affecting ranches, environmental and agricultural policy issues in the state. Representatives from Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Department of Livestock, Public Lands Council and USMEF were on hand to provide updates and insight on current events.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association meets annually to discuss and vote on policy measures, which guide the Association in representing its members on local, state and federal issues. MSGA’s 2016 MidYear membership meeting will take place June 9-11 in Great Falls. To learn more about Stockgrowers programs or membership, visit mtbeef.org 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.

[Hi-res photos are available for download on Flickr at http://bit.ly/2016MSGA. Contact Montana Stockgrowers for more information – (406) 442-3420]

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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.

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