Young Ag Leadership Conference is heading to Great Falls

GREAT FALLS—Mark your calendar! Montana’s thirteenth annual Young Ag Leadership Conference (YALC) is set to take place September 30-October 2 at the Holiday Inn in Great Falls, MT. Young people involved and interested in agriculture, aged 18-40, are invited to attend this one-of-a-kind conference where leadership, personal development, education and networking take center stage.

This year’s agenda boasts top-notch speakers, including the well-known advocate for agriculture, Dairy Carrie. There will be cutting-edge workshops, exciting entertainment and new this year, an Entrepreneur Spotlight of local businesses. YALC’s action-packed program is put together specifically with young agriculturalists in mind by representatives from each of these organizations: Montana Agri-Business Association, Montana 4-H Foundation, Montana Wool Growers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni, Montana FFA Foundation, Montana State University College of Agriculture and the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Look for more conference details, including registration information, to be released shortly. For questions regarding the 2016 Young Ag Leadership Conference, contact Jesse Wallewein at (406) 450-3429 or mtwga@outlook.com.

Tester Skewers Administration’s Brazilian Beef Decision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 4, 2016

 

Marneé Banks | 202.604.5521

Dave Kuntz     | 202.224.8544

Luke Jackson  | 406.702.5484

 

Tester Skewers Administration’s Brazilian Beef Decision

Senator Stands Up for Montana Agriculture Producers and Consumers

 

(Big Sandy, MT) – Senator Jon Tester called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase transparency and address safety concerns regarding the importation of Brazilian beef.

 

This week USDA announced a policy change allowing Brazil to send raw beef to the United States.  Tester sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack on behalf of Montana consumers and hard-working cattlemen and women outlining his concerns about Brazil’s food safety standards and its meat industry’s recent history of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).  Tester pushed the USDA for answers on what the Administration has done to improve the emergency response to an animal disease outbreak such as FMD.  Additionally, he called for more transparency in how this decision was made and how these food safety standards would be verified in the future.

 

“Montana cattle producers have the best beef around, and they are held to the highest food safety standards,” Tester wrote.  “We should expect no less from Brazilian producers.”

 

In light of this decision, Brazil is expected to send 60,000 tons of beef to the United States this year.

 

“Montana ranchers cannot afford to jeopardize our state’s world renowned cattle herds to possible Foot and Mouth Disease exposure as a result of USDA’s recent announcement to import fresh chilled or frozen beef from Brazil,” said Errol Rice of the Montana Stockgrowers.  “We appreciate Senator Tester’s urgent inquiry into USDA’s decision and we look forward to working together to ensure that all possible risks to FMD have been thoroughly analyzed and addressed with rigorous scientific protocol by USDA.”

 

“USDA’s announcement falls in line with the number of obligations currently directed by agreements within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the US.  The problem is that too often Brazil adheres to a “do as I say- not as I do” type of policy.  Brazil has a lengthy history of WTO violations that continue to undercut all sectors of US production agriculture.  Despite this, Brazil is the first to leverage the WTO when it works in their favor,” said Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the US Cattleman’s Association.  “Senator Tester’s letter and ongoing efforts to combat such abuses ensures that both Montana and US cattle producers will not be run roughshod over by a country that continues to fail on every level in living up to international commitments.”

 

Tester’s letter to Secretary Vilsack can be found HERE.

Living with Grizzly Bears

MSGA Director Wayne Slaght of Orlando, MT shares his practices for living with grizzly bears

Written by Wayne Slaght, Ovando, MT

Shaelyn

Grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide have continued to be in the headlines, due mostly to the numerous conflicts with both humans and livestock. With an estimated population of over 1000 bears in this area and along the Rocky Mountain Front, these animals continue to expand their range and encounters with landowners. As a director on the MSGA board and ranch manager in the heart of grizzly bear territory, I wanted to share with the membership some of my experiences and some of the practices we have implemented to help reduce conflicts with grizzly bears and livestock depredations.

Our ranch is located near Ovando, which is about 50 miles east of Missoula. The first grizzly bears showed up on our ranch about 15 years ago. Our first experiences dealt with livestock depredations and significant conflicts in the spring during calving. Our concerns focused on the safety of our family and livestock and the uncertainty of how to deal with this large carnivore. The first steps our ranch took were to electric fence our calving lots. We received financial help from U.S. Fish and Wildlife services, Montana Fish and Wildlife, NRCS and various other concerned groups. We have installed electric fence around our calving lots and around some of the fields where the pairs are turned into and since doing this, we have had no bear problems in these areas. After proof of this, other ranchers in this valley have now installed electric fences in the same way and the area now has over 12 miles of electric fencing around calving lots.

Dead animals and dead animal sights are a great attractant to grizzly bears and this leads to problem bears. We needed to find a means of disposing the carcasses without tempting the bears in close to our cattle and our homes. A carcass pick up program was started in our valley with the financial help of a local group, The Blackfoot Challenge. We were fortunate enough to have the donation of a truck and soon found a driver to pick up and the carcasses and deliver them to a compost site. The Montana Department of Transportation was fundamental in helping us set up this compost site. We began by cleaning up the dead animal pits of ranchers willing to cooperate with the project. The truck runs from the middle of February until the end of May stopping by each ranch twice a week to pick up any animals lost during the calving season. In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to get all ranchers on board but now, basically all the ranchers in this area believe in the project and are using it. This tool continues to be used and has definitely helped to keep the bears at bay.

We have also had problems with bears getting into sheds that contain grain and mineral. Last year we purchased 2 ocean containers with the help of Montana Fish and Game and another agency. We ended up paying for one half of the cost and the containers have proved to work well.There was a time and not so long ago that we didn’t have the Grizzly Bear problems that we have now, in fact, it was a very rare thing to see one roaming this valley. But now, they are here and we have to find ways to deal with them. I realize it can be awkward and a hassle, time consuming and costly but I feel it’s incredibly important to implement tools to help and then to use the available tools to keep livestock depredation down and our families safe. There are programs, grants and other means of assistance out there to help financially and I would like to suggest that you take advantage of them. Since we have implemented these tools and have put them to use, we have had no livestock depredation to the grizzly bear in 12 years, yet, we seem them on a daily basis.

If you check with the staff at the MSGA office or me, we would be glad to help you in any way. It’s our desire to help alleviate problems with the bears.

Cherry Creek Ranch wins regional award from national cattlemen’s beef association

MSGA members, Lon and Vicki Reukauf, discuss winning NCBA’s Environmental Stewardship Award with Northern Ag Network’s Lane Nordlund

This commercial cow-calf operation, located in eastern Montana, is one of the few remaining original homesteads, a fact that instills pride in Lon and Vicki Reukauf, the third generation to operate the ranch. That legacy also drives the management philosophy for the Reukauf’s, who place a strong emphasis on rotational grazing as a way to manage pastures and maintain soil health.

Cherry Creek Ranch, Terry, Mont., was honored last week as one of six regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program winners. The award, which is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, is presented to farmers and ranchers who are working hard to protect America’s natural resources.

Recently the Northern Ag Networks Lane Nordlund spoke with the Reukauf’s on their award!

Click the video above!

Source: Northern Ag Network

Montana’s Cherry Creek Ranch Receives Regional Environmental Stewardship Award

Montana Stockgrowers Association members win Regional Environmental Stewardship Award

DENVER (July 15, 2016) – Cherry Creek Ranch, Terry, Mont., was honored this week as one of six regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program winners. The award, which is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, is presented to farmers and ranchers who are working hard to protect America’s natural resources.

The commercial cow-calf operation, located in eastern Montana, is one of the few remaining original homesteads, a fact that instills pride in Lon and Vicki Reukauf, the third generation to operate the ranch. That legacy also drives the management philosophy for the Reukauf’s, who place a strong emphasis on rotational grazing as a way to manage pastures and maintain soil health.

“For three generations we wake up every morning with the intention to get out of bed and have great intentions to improving the land and the landscape for our cattle and always putting their needs ahead of our own,” said Vicki Reukauf, who explained that the region’s silt soils mean the family needs to pay special attention to building root mass to help improve the soil and improve the water-holding capacity of the ground.

With an annual average rainfall of about 12.5 inches, keeping water on the land is a priority. One way they do that is by employing a rotational grazing system to help improve water infiltration into the soil. In 1983, Lon instituted a rotational grazing system and today rotates herds through multiple pastures to ensure grazing pressure is optimally distributed while also allowing a stockpile of forage for dry years.

“We felt that by having cattle on land for less time and giving it longer rest periods, we accomplished an increase in both species diversity and grass production and especially root depth on the plants that existed,” said Lon Reukaf. “I think by increasing the organic root depth of the plants you increase the organic matter in the soil. And I think it increases your water holding capacity in your soil and also having significant litter and good root mass in the ground makes the plants more efficiently utilize the moisture that you’ve got and lose less of that moisture to evaporation.”

Water distribution across the ranch also contributes to the successful implementation of stewardship practices of the Reukaufs. In fact, the family has installed 15 wells in strategic locations to provide the cattle with clean, fresh, consistent water, and they are slowly converting the wells to run off solar energy. So far, they have four done and plan to complete two more each year until they are all solar-powered. These tanks also help to pull animals away from lower riparian areas,” Lon said. “Putting this water in less sensitive areas is one of the single best factors in having a lot of species biodiversity in our plant community.”

Regional award recipients will now compete for the national Environmental Stewardship Award. The winner of the national award will be announced during the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn., in February, 2017.

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The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has represented America’s cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy.  As the largest association of cattle producers, NCBA works to create new markets and increase demand for beef.  Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or membership@beef.org.

Montana Stockgrowers Association sends two attendees to elite cattle industry conference

Representing Montana Stockgrowers Association, Ariel Overstreet-Adkins and Andy Kellom participated in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s 2016 Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Over 50 cattle producers from across the country and across the industry attended the conference.

Andy

Andy Kellom hales from Hobson, MT. He is currently cattle manager for Bos Terra LP which is a 15,000 head feedlot and up to 7,000 head stocker operation. Andy is responsible for day-to-day cattle management.

Andy was born and raised in Dubois, Idaho. He was involved with his family’s ranch from a young age.  Andy’s love of the beef cattle business started here, as well as days working on many neighboring family ranches in the area.

Andy attended Montana State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in 2002. From there he worked on the cowboy crew of the 1.5 million acre IL Ranch in northern Nevada.  He then spent two years as head cowboy for Harris Feeding Company which is a 100,000+ head feedlot and vertically integrated beef operation in Coalinga, California. Andy then became involved with the Montana Beef Network which was an MSU extension program that dealt mainly with Animal ID as it related to Montana ranchers. Andy was instrumental in the startup of Verified Beef LLC which is a company that at the time offered Source and Age, NHTC, and Never Ever 3 Natural certifications to cow- calf operations throughout Montana and surrounding states.

Ariel

Ariel Overstreet-Adkins is a 2016 graduate of the University of Montana School of Law. Ariel’s article “Extraordinary Protections for the Industry that Feeds Us: Examining a Potential Constitutional Right to Farm and Ranch in Montana,” was published by the Montana Law Review in February. In August, she will begin a yearlong clerkship for a U.S. District Court. Then she will work as an associate attorney at the Moulton Bellingham law firm in Billings, focusing on ag, water, property, and natural resource law.

Ariel was named a W.D. Farr Scholar by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation in 2014. Prior to law school, Ariel served as director of communications and lobbyist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association for five years. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in cultural anthropology where her senior thesis was entitled: “Growing Up Cowboy: High School Rodeo in Montana.” Ariel grew up on her family’s horse ranch in Big Timber.

She and her husband, Zac, raise a few acres of alfalfa in Helena. Ariel is currently serving as vice president of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center.

NCBA’s YCC program is an opportunity for these young leaders to gain an understanding of all aspects of the beef industry from pasture to plate, and showcase the industry’s involvement in policy making, issues management, research, education and marketing.

Beginning at the NCBA headquarters in Denver, Colo., the group got an inside look at many of the issues affecting the beef industry and the work being done on both the state and national level to address these issues on behalf of the NCBA membership. While in Denver, participants were given an organizational overview of NCBA and the Beef Checkoff Program and CattleFax provided a comprehensive overview of the current cattle market and emerging trends. At Safeway, the participants received a first-hand account of the retail perspective of the beef business and then toured the JBS Five Rivers’ Kuner feedyard, one of the largest in the nation, and the JBS Greeley packing and processing plant.

From Denver, the group traveled to Chicago where they visited McDonald’s Campus and OSI, one of the nation’s premiere beef patty producers. After the brief stop in Chicago, the group concluded their trip in Washington D.C., for an in-depth issues briefing on current policy issues including international trade and increasing environmental regulations. Following the issues update, the participants were given the opportunity to visit one-on-one with members of their state’s congressional delegation, expressing their viewpoints regarding the beef industry and their cattle operations. John Deere then hosted a reception in the evening at their office.

The following morning, the group then traveled to Aldie, Va., for a tour and barbecue at Whitestone Farms, one of the nation’s elite purebred Angus operations.

With the beef industry changing rapidly, identifying and educating leaders has never been so important. As a grassroots trade association representing the beef industry the NCBA is proud to play a role in that process and its future success. Over 1,000 cattlemen and women have graduated from the YCC program since its inception in 1980. Many of these alumni have gone to serve in state and national committees, councils and boards. YCC is the cornerstone of leadership training in the cattle industry.

Leadership Series | Guest Blog Post | Shaelyn Meyer

Written by Shaelyn Meyer

 

Shaelyn

Being a part of the Montana Stockgrowers Leadership Series has challenged me in so many ways; some more personal than I feel comfortable sharing with the world. I will share a few personal details about why this has been an impactful program for me: It’s a very, VERY huge responsibility to be heard. It’s something that I’ve always shied away from. It’s scary! When you step up to be heard you’re opening yourself up to attack from anyone who might flat out disagree or just misinterpret what you’re saying. Let’s face it, what you SAY, is often not at all what people HEAR. Effective communication takes skill, skill comes from practice, and practice is best performed with coaching. I’m being coached through the MSGA Leadership Series.

Another thing I’ve realized since I started paying more attention to advocacy and leadership is that people are getting tired of being misinformed and they’re tired of disrespect. The agriculture industry is under attack and being taken for granted. We in the ag industry aren’t innocent of disrespect however: can you remember a time when you’ve reacted to someone’s criticism of agriculture with sarcasm (aka disrespect)? I think we’re all guilty of that.

First we have to listen. We have to identify the values we have in common with our audience. In our case, our audience is consumers of food… so basically everyone; that’s not a monumental task at all. Let’s simplify: I think, in general, consumers want to know that we aren’t degrading the land and that we are treating our animals with respect. How can we show that we hold those values as well and do it in a way that people will listen? That, in a nutshell, is what advocacy is all about. It’s about conveying values and respecting people. Showing respect for others is difficult in the face of some of the tactics used by animal rights groups for example, but I know that it’s absolutely the only way that we’ll gain respect from consumers.

Through the skills I’m practicing in the Leadership Series program, I am better able to approach both sides of the issue with a desire to first understand and then respond in a clear, concise way that people can appreciate and understand. My role as an MSU Extension Agent, puts me in a position to work with both producers on quality assurance and sustainable land management AND be a credible source of information for consumers. It’s a responsibility I want to be prepared as possible for.

Considering the changes that agriculture has made in just the past 50 years, and that the average American is at least 3 generations removed from farming, it’s apparent that people are struggling to catch up and understand why agriculture has changed. Combined with misinformation and anti-ag propaganda, it’s no wonder people are confused and angry. Let’s have patience and understanding and know that we can step in and lift the curtain and let people see what agriculture is really like in Montana. It’s a beautiful thing.

The Leadership Series is made possible through the support of MSGA’s Research Education and Endowment Foundation. Want to learn more about our Leadership Series? Check out the website or email kori@mtbeef.org.

Leadership Series | Guest Blog Post | Weston Merrill

Post by Weston Merrill

Weston

I was asked to write a blog post about my leadership brand. What intimidated me most were the words “blog post”! This relates to my leadership brand because my brand is difficult to define. I am all about being the maker of your own destiny. Whether we believe it or not at the end of the day we have control over how successful we will be. This includes how we feel about ourselves and others.

My brand is not something that has one ingredient or that can even be defined in one word. It’s much bigger than a blog post. The only way I can describe it would be that it can’t be contained and that it’s contagious, watch out!!!!!!!! The word that comes closest to adequately describing what my brand is ” animo” which is a Spanish word that doesn’t have a direct English translation but means excitement and energy! It’s an ever changing and adapting attitude so that you are not stagnate or stuck on one way to do things or way of thinking.

Developing and living my leadership brand is a lifelong process. Being able to objectively look at people, things or situations so as not to be confined by outside stigmas or presumptions. I know my brand fits me and is all mine. My involvement in the leadership series is giving me an opportunity to grow and learn from others. It’s helping me to put into practice what I just talked about. Look at others and their brands objectively and not subjectively. I’m excited to learn from fellow members of the leadership series this year and far into the future! The opportunity to network with people who are like me and NOT like me is so rewarding. I’m excited to hit the world with my brand.

My goal for the leadership series is to get my brand burning hot enough that it leaves a lasting mark when I stick it on the cow hide!

The Leadership Series is made possible through the support of MSGA’s Research Education and Endowment Foundation. Want to learn more about our Leadership Series? Check out the website or email kori@mtbeef.org.

Leadership Series | Guest Blog Post | Trina Bradley

2016 MSGA LEADERSHIP SERIES

Post by Trina Bradley

Trina

Last fall I applied and was accepted into the inaugural Montana Stockgrowers Leadership Series, which is a year-long “class” that will help mentor and develop fourteen young ag leaders from across the state of Montana.

As you all know, I am a born and bred cattle woman. I eat, sleep and breathe cows, and I want to make sure that my daughter has every opportunity to carry on this lifestyle and keep this ranch in the family for years to come. Therefore, I have been working on stepping up and getting involved in ag advocacy for the past few years. I have recently become a Director for the Marias River Livestock Association, I am a 4-H Cloverbud leader, and I have been working on establishing a CattleWomen association in my area.

The Leadership Series is a perfect opportunity for me to focus my energy and hone my skills as a leader, as well as being the perfect place to network with fellow lovers of ag from all over Montana.

We are now four months into the program, and I have come to realize several things about what true leadership is to me. I have also had to some serious soul searching, and admit to myself some things that I really didn’t want to admit to.

I could go on and on about the things that I am not, and the things I suck at as a leader. HOWEVER, our insanely wonderful and slightly crazy leadership coach has impressed on us NUMEROUS times that we do not need to focus on what we aren’t – we need to focus on what we are.

So here are some things that I know to be true about my leadership skills:

  1. I am bossy. I know what needs to be done, and I know who needs to do it. I have no problem giving orders, and I expect things to be done in a timely manner, and done right.
  2. I work hard. When there’s a job to be done, I don’t quit when I’m tired, I quit when I’m done. A good leader doesn’t just give orders; a good leader gets her hands dirty.
  3. I’m stubborn. I’m not going to take no for an answer, and when I get a great idea, I get after it, no matter the obstacle.
  4. I love to learn. I love learning about everything, and that comes in handy when I take on a project I’m not 100% familiar with, or when a new issue comes up.
  5. I’m a good listener. I always have an ear to lend for a friend, and I am learning to listen to the “other side” – the people that oppose ag, or certain ag practices, etc. In order to be a great advocate for our ag community, I need to be able to listen to the concerns of our consumers and look at things from their point of view.

This Series has been eye opening to me in many ways, and I have made a plethora of new friends along the way. I cannot wait to see what Sarah and Ryan (our coaches) have in store for us in the coming months.

I am hoping that this program will continue well into the future, and I encourage every young rancher in Montana to apply next year. You won’t regret it for a second.

The Leadership Series is made possible through the support of MSGA’s Research Education and Endowment Foundation. Want to learn more about our Leadership Series? Check out the website or email kori@mtbeef.org.

Electric City to host Montana Stockgrowers Association’s MidYear Meeting

Electric City to host Montana Stockgrowers Association’s MidYear Meeting

Helena, MT – The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s MidYear Meeting will be held June 9-11 in Great Falls at the Hilton Garden Inn. This year’s MidYear event will be highlighted by a Cattlemen’s College workshop, policy committee meetings and a tour of Ryan Dam!

Mid-Year is one of two major meetings MSGA holds annually where members will gather to discuss the issues facing Montana ranching families and set interim policy to guide the association through the rest of the year. Topics that will be covered in policy committee meetings include the Yellowstone grizzly bear delisting, brucellosis, elk management, the bison quarantine and an update from the Department of Livestock’s executive officer.

The Cattlemen’s College workshops presented by Carrie Mess will kick off events on Thursday afternoon. Ranchers will have the opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate their story and connect, both online and in person with their customers. Area business leaders and the community are invited to a special fundraiser event on Thursday night for MSGA’s Research & Education Endowment Foundation, held at the Hilton Garden Inn with live music by Insufficient Funds Band.

Friday’s Opening General Session will feature a panel of supply chain stakeholders who have formalized Canada’s beef sustainability program and the progress being made in the U.S. The panel includes Bob Lowe, the Alberta Beef Producers Chair; Nancy Labbe, Senior officer of World Wildlife Fund’s sustainable ranching program; and Emily Murray, General Manager of McDonald’s Beef at Cargill.

After policy meetings Friday morning, Ranchers will gather for a Tour of local businesses followed by a steak dinner, fun and music!

For more information about MSGA’s 2016 Mid-Year Meeting, contact MSGA’s office at (406) 442-3420 or join the Facebook event. Visit mtbeef.org for more details.

 

Images of speakers available at: http://bit.ly/2016MidYear

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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.