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

USDA Adds New Tools, Resources to to Aid Producers

Agricultural producers have new resources available to them to prepare for and recover from the impacts of natural disasters on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new website, The site has updated tools and information to help agricultural producers identify the right programs and make decisions for their operations.

“Agriculture is a risky business,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “At USDA, we’re here to help you prepare, recover, and build long-term resilience to natural disasters. Whether you want to visit your local USDA service center or visit our new, we want to help you get the help you need.”

New additions to the site – being built for farmers, by farmers – include a portal for secure business transactions and a disaster assistance discovery tool. The discovery tool walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. The portal is the first edition of a secure dashboard for producers to manage program applications and other USDA documents.

These resources are in addition to other currently available through, including:

  • Our mobile-friendly Service center locator, connecting users with USDA assistance at the location nearest them,
  • Information about the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program, which provides disaster payments to producers to offset losses from hurricanes and wildfires during 2017,
  • Routinely updated blog where producers can read stories about other farmers across the nation containing insight into how other producers address challenges in running successful agricultural operations,
  • A soil health webpage, where producers can read about the soil health management practices offered by USDA, and
  • An online playbook, where people can track the latest developments of the site.

“USDA’s vision for is to provide farmers, ranchers and foresters with online self-service applications, educational materials, engagement opportunities and business tools,” Perdue said. “Our goal is to provide you, America’s farmers, with the best customer service, and this website is one of many ways we’re working to do so.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency are collaborating with partners in the government and private sector to build Work began in fall 2017, and the site launched in 2018.

Montana Youth Range Camp Applications Available

DUPUYER, Mont. – Applications are now available for the 2015 Montana Youth Range Camp. This year’s camp will be held the week of July 27-31 at Frank Brattin Middle School in Colstrip, Mont., and is open to all youth ages 12 -18.

“Range camp is an opportunity for kids to connect with Montana’s great outdoors in a setting that offers fun, friendship and learning,” said Heidi Crum, DNRC Rangeland Program Coordinator.

Students will attend outdoor classes covering four major subjects: water and riparian areas; soils and geology; rangeland monitoring; and wildlife and livestock grazing management. Students also receive instruction in plant identification and anatomy, and work in teams to solve a natural resource or range management problem, presenting their solutions to a panel of judges at the end of the week.

Along with coursework, Youth Range Camp offers opportunities for fun and recreation. Campers have the opportunity to participate in a wildlife presentation, hiking and visiting the medicine rocks. The fun day includes swimming and fishing. A dance takes place on the last night of the week.

Scholarships may be available by contacting your local conservation district for more information. Additional assistance and help to run the camp is being provided by Montana DNRC and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Cost for the camp is $175 and includes meals, lodging and all scheduled activities. Registration is due by July 3.

The 2015 Montana Youth Range Camp is hosted by the Rosebud Conservation District. For more information, contact Scott Kaiser, DNRC Program Specialist at (406) 232-6359, or Bobbi Vannattan with the Rosebud Conservation District at (406) 346-7333, ext. 101. For more information, including an application form, visit the DNRC Web site at

Updates on Montana Youth Range Camp and other events can be found on the Facebook page:

NRCS Sets Program Funding Application Deadline for June 1

Image via NRCS EQIP

Image via NRCS EQIP

BOZEMAN, Mont., April 15, 2014–The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set a June 1, 2014, application deadline for agricultural operators to be considered for 2015 conservation program funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

NRCS provides funding and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that provide environmental benefits to help sustain agricultural operations. Conservation program participation is voluntary and helps private landowners and operators defray the costs of installing conservation practices.

NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for 2015 funding consideration must be submitted by June 1, 2014. Applications made after the deadline will be considered in the next funding cycle. Additional information is available on the Montana NRCS website at


The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat. Learn more about how Montana ranchers utilize EQIP funding to implement conservation practices on ranches through the Montana Environmental Stewardship Awards Program.

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Leon LaSalle Ranch Environmental Stewardship

LaSalle Ranch of Havre Nominated for Regional Environmental Stewardship Award

Cattle Trailing on the LaSalle RanchMontana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) announced this week that the LaSalle Ranch of Havre has been nominated for the Region V Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP), sponsored by DOW AgroSciences, funded by National Beef Checkoff dollars. LaSalle Ranch is a cow/calf and yearling operation mostly located within the boundaries of the Rocky Boys Indian Reservation. The LaSalles are members of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and are the first Native American winners of Montana’s ESAP state-level award, which was announced in December 2013.

Each year, MSGA honors a Montana ranch that exemplifies environmental stewardship and demonstrates a commitment toward improved sustainability within the beef industry. This award recognizes Montana ranchers who are at the forefront in conservation and stewardship and are willing to serve as examples for other ranchers. Each year the state ESAP winner from Montana works with MSGA for the Regional, and eventual National, application process.

“The whole LaSalle family is very proud to be nominated for the regional and national recognition,” said Leon LaSalle, president of LaSalle Ranch. “We understand that if we take care of the land it will take care of us. Our ancestors lived in harmony with their environment and we try to do the same. This award means a lot to me personally, not for myself, but for my father who has spent a lifetime improving the environment—not only for us, but for numerous other farmers and ranchers throughout North Central Montana.”

LaSalle Ranch is operated by the LaSalle family: Leon and his wife Shannon, his father Robert L. and mother Jenny, and brother Robert W. and his wife Susie are all involved in the operation. Leon and Robert W. represent the third generation to ranch in the area. Their grandfather, Frank Billy, was one of the first Chippewa Cree Tribal members to enter the livestock industry after World War II.
LaSalle Ranch has partnered with the Montana Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Natural Resource Department, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to implement conservation practices and a planned grazing system to protect environmentally sensitive areas on the ranch. They have installed over seven miles of stock water pipelines, 25 wildlife-friendly watering facilities, and 10 miles of cross fences.

lasalle field wide openA major focus of the LaSalle family’s efforts has been Beaver Creek, which flows into Beaver Creek County Park, the largest county park in the U.S. This park is a very popular summer recreation area for Hill County and surrounding county residents who enjoy camping, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. The park is located on the downstream border of the LaSalle’s grazing allotment. The LaSalles have worked to keep cattle off the sensitive riparian areas of the creek by developing eight off-stream water developments, utilizing solar energy to pump livestock water to higher elevations to take grazing pressure off riparian areas and allow even grazing use of the pastures, and installing 3.5 miles of riparian area protection fences. These efforts have resulted in improved water quality in the headwaters of this watershed and a more pleasant environment for recreationalists.

The Regional ESAP winners will be announced in July at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado. Regional winners will be nominated for the National award, which will be announced February 2015 at the Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Since 1992, MSGA has honored 21 state winners, ten of whom went on to win the regional award and two named national award winners. To learn more, visit

Leon LaSalle Ranch Environmental Stewardship


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MSGA members Two Dot Land and Livestock Co., American Fork Ranch & Robert E. Lee Ranch Co. to be featured on 2009 Governor’s Range Tour

DNRC – Excellence and innovation in rangeland management will be on display at the 2009 Governor’s Range Tour, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17, and Friday, Sept. 18, in Harlowton, Mont.

Tour participants on the first day will visit the Two Dot Land and Livestock Co., where Zach Jones will discuss holistic grazing and management practices. The second stop will be at the American Fork Ranch where lunch will be served at the beautiful ranch headquarters. Following the meal, American Fork Ranch manager Jed Evjene will discuss his experiences with the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service for rangeland improvements and grazing management.

The next stop will be at the C Bar J Ranch, where owners Tom and Pam Stevens will demonstrate weed management with goat grazing. The last stop of the day will be at the town of Two Dot. Here Gary Olsen with the Wheatland County Weed District will show the integrated pest management plan on leafy spurge in the area.

A banquet at the Moose Lodge in Harlowton will finish off the day. Mike Smith will be the Master of Ceremonies, the crowd will enjoy a theatrical performance from the local group; The Jawbone Players. Governor Brian Schweitzer is the invited keynote speaker.

The second day of the tour will begin at the Judith Gap Wind Farm, with a presentation from John Bacon of Invenergy. The next stop will be at S & G Livestock to view the new Animal Feeding Operation. Following that, the tour will go to the Galloway Creek Ranch, where Julie Thorson will share her experience with the EQIP Program and range management over the years. The tour will conclude with the Robert E. Lee Ranch Co. Bob and Kathy Lee will discuss grass experiment plots and rangeland management.

The annual Governor’s Range Tour rotates around the state, recognizing landowners who excel in natural resource management practices. This event serves as a great place to view agricultural practices, meet new people and share experiences.

This year’s tour is hosted by the Upper Musselshell Conservation District, in cooperation with the Rangeland Resources Executive Committee (RREC) and the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC).

For more information about the 2009 Governor’s Range Tour or to register, visit the DNRC website at: or contact Heidi Olbert, State Coordinator, DNRC Rangeland Resource Program at (406) 444-6619; or Cheryl Miller with the Upper Musselshell Conservation District at (406) 632-5534 ext. 101.