Montana Stockgrowers to Host 134th Annual Convention in Billings

December 11-13. Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) will celebrate 134 years of serving the state’s ranchers at their Annual Convention & Trade Show. This year’s meetings at the Northern Hotel and DoubleTree Hotel in Billings will feature a trade show, educational workshops, and policy meetings.

“Our 2018 Annual Convention will feature a large number of discussions about issues that will turn into policy for the Association,” noted MSGA President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon. “Policy set at Convention will guide the actions of MSGA at the upcoming Montana Legislative Session. I encourage everyone to come to Billings to lend their voice to help guide the future of Montana Agriculture! Your voice is your future. Share your insight, learn from others and help shape our industry.”

Department of Interior’s Tim Williams, the Deputy Director of External Affairs, will be the featured speaker during Wednesday’s Opening General Session. Williams originates from Nevada, where he served as Deputy Director of the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Prior to that, he was a partner at a political consulting firm, managing local, state and Congressional races.

A broad range of educational workshops will be offered during the Stockgrowers College. Speakers will touch on topics of calf health and nutrition, calf management, heifer development, antibiotic use, access issues, soil health, EID systems, DNA technology, risk management, and estate planning.

Policy meetings will take place on all three days of Annual Convention. Guest speakers will address a number of topics affecting Montana’s ranching communities during the past year and in months to come. A Trade Show with over 100 booth spaces will be open to the public Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Thursday’s Grand Finale Banquet will be highlighted by the annual live auction for Cattle Directory Priority Page advertisements and a beef dinner!

A full meeting agenda, hotel information, details of policy meeting discussions and Stockgrowers College workshops are available on the MSGA website at Online and discounted registration closes Thursday, December 6. On-site registration will be available. For more information, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420.

Secretaries Perdue and Zinke Join Forces to Combat 2018 Wildfire Season

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today hosted a fire briefing for Members of Congress at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to hear the forecast for this year’s wildfire season. Following the meeting, the secretaries sent a memorandum to wildland fire leadership highlighting the importance of inter-departmental collaboration to increase firefighter, public, and community safety as the 2018 wildfire season approaches. The 2017 wildfire season was one of the most challenging years on record, stressing the need for the USDA and the Department of the Interior to work together in combating this year’s fires.

“As we begin this year’s fire season, we want to remind everyone that the protection of firefighters and public safety is the single highest priority in every fire management activity and decision that we make,” Perdue and Zinke said. “Last year we lost 14 wildland firefighters who sacrificed their own lives to protect the lives of others and that is something we hope to prevent this year.”

“Additionally, both Departments will continue to collaborate to ensure all firefighting assets are being used in an efficient and effective manner. It is essential that firefighters have the right tools, resources, and flexibility to allow them to do their jobs safely. As we explore opportunities to improve efficiencies, we will look to integrate technology, such as the use of unmanned aircraft systems, into our operations and capitalize on other advancements to promote firefighter safety, support planning, and protect communities.”

To view the memorandum in its entirety, please click here.

MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

The Montana Stockgrowers Association had a successful trip in DC, including meeting Secretary Pruitt(L to R) Back Row: MSGA First Vice President Fred Wacker of Miles City, MSGA Second Vice President Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney, MSGA Director of Natural Resources Jay Bodner, NCBA Environmental Counsel Scott Yager. Front Row: MSGA Communications Director Kori Anderson, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, MSGA President Bryan Mussard.



Contact:  Kori Anderson

MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) traveled to Washington DC to meet with Montana’s Congressional Delegation and Agency officials last week. President Bryan Mussard of Dillon, Mont.; First Vice President Fred Wacker of Miles City, Mont.; and Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney, Mont. attended the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Legislative Conference April 10-12.

The MSGA officers met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, Congressman Greg Gianforte, and senior officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) were a top priority of MSGA during the trip. They spoke extensively about the need for a permanent fix for livestock haulers, and the trio presented each member of the delegation with a list of minimums to consider.

MSGA had the opportunity to meet with Senator Daines the day before he met with President Trump to discuss the tariffs on China. The Association voiced their concerns over the proposed beef tariffs and explained the effect it would have on Montana’s number one industry.

A common theme of the week was reducing burdensome regulations, it costs ranchers $12,000 a year to comply with state and federal regulations. From the EPA to Interior, it was evident there was strong support for said action. Administrator Pruitt promised to look into streamlining the record keeping system for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) after discussion with the MSGA officers.

In order to best serve the ranchers of Montana, it is a priority of MSGA to work with the Congressional Delegation and Federal Agencies to accomplish the goals set forth by the membership. To learn more about what a membership with MSGA can do for you, please 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.

MSGA meeting with Secretary Zinke.

MSGA meeting with U.S. Senator Jon Tester.

Zinke gets thumbs up from ag groups

Source: Rebecca Colnar
for Tri-State Livestock News

With the Senate Hearing for the Secretary of the Interior nominee Ryan Zinke completed, those most affected by federal lands management in the west are giving Montana’s sole Congressman a nod of approval.

Throughout his opening statement, Zinke reiterated his willingness to meet with people most affected by the department’s policies, and listed his three immediate tasks.

“The first is to restore trust by working with rather than against local communities and states,” Zinke noted. “I fully recognize that there is distrust, anger, and even hatred against some federal management policies. Being a listening advocate rather than a deaf adversary is a good start.”

The Montana native said his second task would be to “prioritize the estimated 12.5 billion dollars in backlog of maintenance and repair in our National Parks. The President elect is committed to a jobs and infrastructure bill, and I am going to need your help in making sure that bill includes shoring up our Nations treasures.”

“Third, I want to ensure the professionals on the front line, our rangers and field managers, have the right tools, right resources, and flexibility to make the right decisions that give a voice to the people they serve,” he said.

Ranchers watching the hearing may have noticed that grazing did not make the list of multiple use; natural resource development of oil production and coal received the most attention, with sportsmen’s concerns coming in second. Several western senators surfaced sage grouse management issues, and how stakeholders in the western states had worked to develop a feasible solution only to have those plans dismissed by the Bureau of Land Management. However, despite the lack of agriculturally related comments, ranchers believe the Congressman will listen to the concerns of those whose livelihoods depend on grazing public lands.

As Montana’s Representative, Zinke has been willing to meet with ag groups and local rural communities.

“He’s been very supportive of the agricultural community,” said Tom DePuydt, a cow-calf producer from Malta. “About a year ago, he held a town hall meeting in Malta and heard our local concerns, especially regarding the listing of sage grouse as an endangered species. The Treasured Landscape Initiative, for monument expansion, introduced in 2010 by the then Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey, was still very much on the minds of people in Malta and Rep. Zinke listened to us.”

DePuydt believes Zinke will be a willing listener. “Listening and understanding is an important part of local input. Federal plans need to be consistent with local land use. I find it disturbing that in some cases, international concerns carry more weight than those of local people.”

Although Zinke has indicated his strong support of funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, DePuydt expressed concern. “I have reservations about that, as I feel that fund needs to be overhauled and have a limitation regarding private lands and private property rights. I worry that fund provides too much money for land acquisitions. However, I’m hopeful if voted as Interior Secretary and with the new leadership in Washington, D.C., Zinke will make proper use of development of natural resources a priority. That’s what makes our rural communities thrive,” DePuydt said.

Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson, who has met with Rep. Zinke in Montana and Washington, D.C., is thrilled with the nomination. “My experience is he gathers facts before forming opinions. He wants information from people who are on the ground with dirt under their fingernails or sawdust in their cuffs,” said the Stevensville rancher. “He wants to know what’s going on in the woods and on the farm. He will be levelheaded and honest, and willing to take advice and seek advice. He’s not going to tell you he’ll do something, then not do it.”

McPherson believes Zinke will listen, a trait that he believes has been lacking in past interior secretaries. “Anybody who grazes, farms, logs or mines will have a say. He is certainly not going to let the environment get trashed, but he’ll use sound science to make decisions, and give more weight to those directly affect by federal land management policies than basing a decision from someone far-removed in San Francisco.”

The fact Zinke understands Western issues is critical. “Montana is unique because we have logging, we have grazing, we have mining, and yet we also have the biggest and best national parks in this country,” McPherson noted. Zinke understands the importance of balancing those. He will be a great asset to President Trump’s cabinet, and as a Montanan, I couldn’t be more excited or more proud to have him serve as Secretary of the Interior.”

Although grazing wasn’t front and center in the Senate Confirmation Hearings, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council also gave approval for Zinke.

According to the NCBA, Western ranchers own approximately 120 million acres of the most productive private land in the West and manage nearly 250 million acres of public land. “For too long, ranchers have been marginalized and overlooked during planning processes and the benefits they provide to public rangelands, wildlife and natural resources have gone unrecognized,” said Dave Eliason, PLC president. “The current leadership of the Department of Interior refuses to stand up for the very people who have invested their time and livelihoods into the management and improvement of public lands. Having a Secretary of Interior who understands public lands, and who values true cooperation with stakeholders is in the best interest of all Americans. We are excited for Representative Zinke to refocus the agency’s efforts to their core mission, and to have someone in this role that understands the unique challenges we face in the West.”