Lila Taylor Named “Ranching Woman of the Year”

Lila Watty Taylor Ranching Woman of the YearMontana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently recognized Lila Taylor of Kirby, in Big Horn County, as “Ranching Woman of the Year”. The announcement was made Saturday, December 5 during the 131st MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings.

Lila, wife of Watty, excited to win the award, was joined on stage by her family. Taylor was nominated for the award by friends and family in the Busby area and from across Montana.

The Taylor family and friends collaborated to share a fitting profile of Lila’s accomplishments through the years:

Lila (Vescovi) Taylor was born into a dairy family outside of Roundup. After the dairy burned down, her family bought into the Registered Polled Hereford business. Her parents, Earl and Wasy, became successful breeders and were eventually inducted into the Polled Hereford Hall of Fame. She was her dad’s right hand man, learning all aspects of the cattle industry and business. She began delivering bulls across Montana and neighboring states when she was just 15 years old.

In her youth, Lila spent countless hours preparing and participating in 4-H and became very successful, especially in the cattle judging and showing arenas. She was the second high individual scorer at the 4-H Congress her senior year. After high school graduation, Lila moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University where she participated on the MSU Judging Team. Lila graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Business in 1971. To this day, she is a hard-core Bobcat fan and is proud to wear blue and gold!

scan[5] copy 17In 1969, she served as the first official Northern International Livestock Exposition hostess, making her the first “Queen of the Nile.” Later, she would become the chairperson for the youth 4-H/FFA committee at the NILE. This gave her the opportunity to judge 4-H fairs across the state, which she enjoyed. Watty and Lila are proud inaugural members of the NILE.

After a short courtship, she married Watty Taylor in June 1972. They moved to a ranch in Boyd, Montana, which was the start of the “ranch wife” years. In 1973, they moved to Kirby, Montana so that Watty could take over as foreman of his family’s ranch, a cow-calf operation. She became a mother to three sons, (Kirby born 1975, Jay born 1976 and Peter born 1978).

It was during this time that Lila learned the art of cooking for large ranch crews and refining her skills in the “domestic” areas, which was new to her as she grew up a tomboy. Many can attest that today she will not bat an eye at cooking a meal for 30, after she has weighed the calves, provided coffee and checked on the crew’s progress!

Watty & Lila took over the ranch business from his parents in 1994. The boys were away at school and as a couple, they did it all…night calving, riding & gathering, vaccinating, spraying weeds, swathing and the list goes on. Lila has a can-do attitude and expects everyone else to get it done, too!

DSC_0538Lila has put much energy into serving outside of the ranch. After sending her last son away to school, Governor Racicot encouraged her to run for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives. She was told she had 19% chance of winning. However, she was resilient and was elected in the fall of 1994. She served three terms, sitting on committee seats in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Education. In her last term, she served as vice chair of the Legislative Finance Committee.

In 2003, Governor Martz appointed her to the Board of Regents, where she served until 2010. She was selected to serve on the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation Board (MHESAC) & Student Assistant Foundation (SAF) Boards; she is still serving on these boards today.

In 2011, Governor Schweitzer appointed her to the Montana Board of Public Education. Governor Bullock appointed her to a seat on the Montana Board of Livestock in 2015. Lila serves on the local school board, having helped to create the only small school district cooperative in the state. She also currently serves on the Big Horn Electric Cooperative Board and the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors.

Lila has Italian “gusto” and will not be dissuaded. Her brother remembers fondly that if she couldn’t get a gate open, she’d pull up to it with a pick-up and “nudge” the gate until she could get it loose enough to open, a trick she uses to this day. She is confident in her beliefs and does not back down easily; while terrified of mice, she has been known to a kill a rattlesnake or two with a rope. She loves her family, friends and her suburban passionately.

Today, Lila and Watty are still operating their cow-calf operation near Kirby. All three sons and their spouses, Kirby and Misty, Jay and Cherie, and Peter and Amanda, are involved in ranching in Montana. She is a very proud grandmother of seven: Will, Ava, Emery, Anna, Reese, Brett and Samuel. Her boys lovingly refer to her as “The Warden”, you know her as Lila Taylor.

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

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

MSU Extension and MSGA announce 2015 Steer of Merit certifications

montana state extension logoMontana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 108 “Steers of Merit” out of 903 entries for 2015. Out of 589 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 70 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 38 out of 314 entries received the distinction.

The exhibitors and breeders of the top five steers in each category were honored at MSGA’s Annual Convention, Dec. 5 in Billings at the MetraPark Rimrock Auto Arena. The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2015 decreased by 10 steers, with 27 fewer entries submitted compared to 2014.

The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were:

  1. Isabelle Lowry, Lewis and Clark County (Isabelle Lowry, breeder);
  2. Haven Meged, Custer County (Bart Meged, breeder);
  3. Sam Kearney, Ravalli County (Troy Griffin, breeder);
  4. Cheyenne Hawbaker, Daniels County (Steve and Kristi Vorhees, breeder); and
  5. Trenton Braaten, Broadwater County (Butch Gillespie, breeder).

The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were:

  1. Trey Nansel, Yellowstone County (Barry Kruger, breeder);
  2. Parker Cook, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown);
  3. Spencer Lepley, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown);
  4. Kallie Candee, Richland County (Asbeck Brothers, breeder); and
  5. Bill Bender, Yellowstone County (Northwest College, breeder).

Megan Van Emon Steer of MeritThe Montana Steer of Merit program was initiated in 1967 as a joint effort between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana State University Extension. The program was designed to measure, record, and improve carcass characteristics in beef cattle. Data from these carcasses has been summarized and analyzed statistically. Over time, significant increases have been made in quality grade and in yield grade, or cutability, indicating that cattle can be selected for leaner carcasses with higher cutability and still maintain high quality grade as reflected by marbling.

To be designated a Steer of Merit, carcasses are evaluated by a qualified individual using information that relates to yield of lean meat and eating quality. Beef carcasses must meet criteria set by the Steer of Merit Committee in the areas of hot carcass weight, dressing percent, fat thickness over 12th rib (back fat), total rib eye area, yield grade, percent cutability, and quality grade. Computer software programs help compile data and rank carcasses for state and county awards. Data is also analyzed periodically to track genetic and feed management progress. The minimum standards for Steer of Merit are reviewed each year and the program is updated to meet the changing industry standards.

For more information about the Steer of Merit program call Megan Van Emon, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at (406) 874-8286.

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

Two Dot Rancher completes term as Stockgrowers Director

Jed EvjeneJed Evjene of Two Dot recently completed his second term of Director for the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) representing the South Central District. Evjene was recognized for his contributions at MSGA’s 131st Annual Convention and Trade Show at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings on December 5.

“I have truly enjoyed my time as a Board member, meeting and visiting ranchers from all across this great state of Montana,” says Evjene. “In the last four years, I have been amazed at the growth in the younger generation’s participation in Stockgrowers. The interest and leadership younger people are showing in the industry gives me the confidence that our industry is going to continue to thrive and move forward.”

Jed and his wife, Annie, manage the American Fork Ranch near Two Dot, a commercial cow-calf operation, which was recognized in 2014 for outstanding work in stewardship, conservation and sustainability through the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The Evjenes have focused on improving range utilization through intensive rotational grazing management, extensive projects to improve water availability and improve habitat for wildlife surrounding the ranch. The Evjenes were recognized in June as winners of the Region V ESAP and will compete for the national award, to be announced in January.

The Evjenes have three sons: Tanner and his wife Amanda, Levi, and Andrew and his wife Catie. Jed has been active in his local organizations, serving as past Director of the Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers Association in Big Timber and Wheatland County Stockgrowers in Harlowton.

Outside of the beef industry, Evjene has served on the Hamilton Fire Department Board of Trustees; was safety training officer and past member of Region 5 Advisory Board for FWP; is a past registered EMT; and currently serves as a volunteer for the Melville Fire Department.

Evjene was elected by MSGA members to the 13-member board in 2011 and re-elected in 2013.

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, contact the office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.

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

The Science Doesn’t Support IARC Decision

Philip Ellis_headshotBy Philip Ellis, Wyoming Rancher, NCBA President

We learned this week that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has voted to tell the world that they believe processed meats are a human carcinogen. Similarly, they have decided red meat is a “probable carcinogen.” Let me be clear, this group did not conduct new research during their meeting, they simply reviewed existing evidence, including six studies submitted by the beef checkoff. That evidence had already been reviewed and weighed by the medical and scientific community. The science reviewed by IARC simply does not support their decision.

We know that there isn’t clear evidence to support IARC’s decision because the beef checkoff has commissioned independent studies on the topic for a decade. In fact, countless studies have been conducted by cancer and medical experts and they have all determined the same thing: No one food can cause or cure cancer. But that hasn’t prevented IARC from deciding otherwise.

Since IARC began meeting in 1979, these experts have reviewed more than 900 compounds, products and factors for possible correlation with cancer. To date, only one product (caprolactam, which is a chemical primarily used to create synthetic fibers like nylon) has been granted a rating of 4, which indicates it is “probably not carcinogenic to humans.” Most other factors or products that have been examined by the body, including glyphosate, aloe vera, nightshift work and sunlight have fallen into three categories: 2B “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” 2A “probably carcinogenic to humans,” or 1 “carcinogenic to humans.”

It seemed likely from the beginning that we’d find ourselves here. We knew the deck was stacked against us, so the beef industry and others have long been working on providing credible research that would support what many others outside our industry have already verified: A full, fair and unbiased examination of the entire body of research does not support a finding that red or processed meats cause cancer. This conclusion isn’t mine alone and you can evaluate the information for yourself. We’ve posted the studies reviewed by IARC on the website: At NCBA, our team of experts has also been working with our state partners and other industry organizations to mount a full-scale defense of beef.

As just one example of the work we’ve done, we commissioned a study with the same body of research reviewed by IARC. Our study engaged a panel of 22 epidemiologists from the United States and abroad who were recruited by a third-party research group. Participants in the study averaged 22 years of experience and the full panel had a combined total of 475 years of experience. They were provided with a meta-analysis graph which showed data for a specific exposure and a specific human disease outcome, but the specific human disease outcome and exposure were not revealed. In other words, they plotted the results of the study findings on a graph, without telling the participants what product the studies examined. Of the 22 participants in the study, 21 (or 95 percent) said their assessment of the magnitude of the association was weak. Of the 22 epidemiologists, only 10 (or 45 percent) said there was even a possible association. Perhaps most importantly, the epidemiologists agreed that, given the evidence provided, there is not sufficient evidence to make public health recommendations.

Cancer is a complex subject and no one understands fully what causes it or how it can be prevented. Despite billions of dollars spent on research, we only know that no one food can cause or prevent cancer. We also know, thanks in part to decades of producer-funded work on the subject, that when people lead overall healthy lifestyles and maintain a healthy weight, they reduce their risks for chronic diseases, such as cancer, and our team and our state partners are hard at work on this topic to be certain that consumers and their influencers know and understand that beef should remain in their diets, regardless of what IARC might say.

Science Does Not Support International Agency Opinion on Red Meat and Cancer

beef consumer demand meat caseAn international committee assigned to review all of the available evidence on red meat and cancer risk were divided on their opinion whether to label red meat a “probable” cause of cancer, according to the Beef Checkoff nutrition scientist and registered dietitian who observed the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) process. After seven days of deliberation in Lyon, France, IARC was unable to reach a consensus agreement from a group of 22 experts in the field of cancer research, something that IARC has proudly highlighted they strive for and typically achieve. In this case, they had to settle for “majority” agreement.

“Cancer is a complex disease that even the best and brightest minds don’t fully understand,” says Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD. “Billions of dollars have been spent on studies all over the world and no single food has ever been proven to cause or cure cancer. The opinion by the IARC committee to list red meat as a probable carcinogen does not change that fact. The available scientific evidence simply does not support a causal relationship between red or processed meat and any type of cancer.”

Most scientists agree that it is unrealistic to isolate a single food as a cause of cancer from a complex dietary pattern further confounded by lifestyle and environmental factors.

“As a registered dietitian and mother, my advice hasn’t changed. To improve all aspects of your health, eat a balanced diet, which includes lean meats like beef, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and, please don’t smoke,” says McNeill.

While IARC represents a select group of opinions, it doesn’t always represent consensus in the scientific community.

A large meta-analysis, published online in May in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, analyzed the relationship between red meat intake and risk for colorectal cancer and concluded “red meat does not appear to be an independent predictor of CRC risk,” according to Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH, the epidemiologist who conducted the research on behalf of the Beef Checkoff.

“There are a constellation of factors that are associated with the probability of getting cancer, which include age, genetics, socioeconomic characteristics, obesity, lack of physical activity, where you grew up, alcohol consumption, smoking and even your profession,” says Alexander. “The bottom line is the epidemiologic science on red meat consumption and cancer is best described as weak associations and an evidence base that has weakened over time. And most importantly, because red meat is consumed in the context of hundreds of other foods and is correlated with other behavioral factors, it is not valid to conclude red meat is an independent cause of cancer.”

According to Alexander, studies in nutritional epidemiology can be highly prone to bias such as self-reported dietary intake, for which habits may change over time. Because of this, associations reported in nutritional epidemiology may be surrounded by uncertainty. For instance, most, if not all, of the observational studies with red meat are limited by confounding factors; for example, studies have shown that people who consume the most red meat are the most likely to smoke, eat fewer fruits and vegetables and be overweight or obese – all of which may confound the relationship between eating red meat and risk of cancer.

Also, more recent studies in large cohorts are now finding either no association or non-significant findings between red meat and cancer. For example, a recent study out of Harvard using the well known The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and The Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) found unprocessed meat intake had an inverse association with distal colon cancer and a weak, statistically non-significant, positive association with risk of proximal colon cancer.

In addition, gold standard nutrition evidence, such as the Women’s Health Initiative and the Polyp Prevention Trial, two large, multi-year randomized controlled dietary interventions, found that a 20 percent reduction in red meat consumption did not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and/or had no effect on adenoma recurrence in the large bowel. These studies were disregarded from the IARC review.

“Given the weak associations in human studies and lack of evidence in animal studies it is hard to reconcile the committee’s vote,” says nutritional toxicologist James Coughlin, PhD, CFS. “Of more than 900 items IARC has reviewed, including coffee, sunlight and night shift work, they have found only one ‘probably’ does not cause cancer according to their classification system.”

Coughlin, a toxicologist with more than 40 years of experience in meat and cancer, is critical of the IARC review process due to the lack of transparency, selective inclusion or exclusion of studies and broad interpretation of study results that are inconsistent with the conclusions of the study authors.

“In my experience as an observer to an IARC working group, the process typically involves scientists who have previously published research on the substance being reviewed and may have a vested interest in defending their own research” says Coughlin. “In the case of red and processed meat, the overall scientific evidence simply does not support their conclusion.”

–NCBA Press Release

Stockgrowers Seeking Applications For Manager of Communications and Outreach

msga_regstylelogo_navyThe Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking applications for a Manager of Communications and Outreach. The position is responsible for all formal Association communications, facilitates outreach programs for Association members, industry and public audiences, and provides staff support for Association programs.

Strong applicants should be familiar with ranching industry communications platforms, media relations, create and design programs and social media outreach strategies. The position works closely with young rancher and collegiate education and leadership programs, as well as event publicity.

Successful candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications, journalism, public relations, marketing, or related field of study, and/or have relevant experience. A background in livestock or agricultural practices is desired but not required.

Successful candidates should have strong organizational skills, writing and communications skills, and the ability to meet deadlines. Experience and knowledge in photography, video production, social media and website management, Microsoft Office suite of software, Adobe Design suite of software, WordPress, email campaign software, Google products, audio editing and HTML is desired.

For more information about the job opening, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420. A full job description is available at Please send cover letter and resume to Ryan Goodman at, or 420 N. California St., Helena, MT 59601.The application process is open until position is filled.

Registration Open for 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show

san diego cicDENVER – Registration and housing for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show is now open. The 118th Annual Convention will be held in San Diego, Calif., Jan. 27-29, 2016. Advanced registration is open until Jan. 4, 2016. Convention participants will hear from industry leaders, gather insight on industry trends, enjoy an evening of stars and stripes on the USS Midway and this year’s Cowboy Concert Series will feature Martina McBride. NCBA President Philip Ellis said this convention is a must for everyone involved in the cattle industry.

“The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest, national convention in the cattle business,” Ellis said. “We look forward to another great meeting in an outstanding location. Once again, NCBA will have one of the largest trade shows in agriculture, with 350 companies exhibiting on nearly 6 acres of show floor. Between the USO show on the USS Midway and Martina McBride, our entertainment will be outstanding.”

In addition to access to all of the 2016 convention events, registrants for the full convention will receive a 50 percent off coupon for Roper and Stetson apparel and footwear at the NCBA Trade Show. To register and secure housing for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, visit or e-mail

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Chief Veterinarian Addresses Joint Public Meeting Regarding Antimicrobial Data Collection

Antibiotics Use Livestock ResistanceWASHINGTON – Yesterday, Kathy Simmons, DVM, Chief Veterinarian, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, delivered comments before a joint public meeting of the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and Center for Disease Control addressing antimicrobial use and resistance data collection.

“NCBA believes that a clear strategy for data collection, analysis and reporting must first be established before moving forward with the data collection process in order to provide information that correctly represents actual antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals,” said Dr. Simmons, adding that antimicrobial use data collection needs to be revised. “We agree that the antimicrobial drug sales and distribution data currently collected by FDA under ADUFA does not equate to antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals. We are appreciative of the desire of the agencies to obtain broad stakeholder involvement and collaboration in the process to seek the best possible options available for collecting and analyzing on-farm antimicrobial drug use information.”

NCBA has a long history supporting antimicrobial stewardship that directs responsible antibiotic use in all sectors of the beef cattle industry. This commitment dates back to the first release of the Beef Producer Guidelines for Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in 1987, which is still utilized in an updated form by producers today.

“We do not believe that the reduction in the volume of antimicrobial drugs used in food-producing animals should be used as the sole measurement for the success of a judicious antimicrobial drug use strategy,” said Simmons. Instead, “there must be a way to link antimicrobial drug use metrics with the reason for drug use and animal population parameters rather than simply reporting aggregate quantities for which the only goal is reduction.”

Additionally, Simmons cautioned FDA on privacy concerns, stating that ensuring the anonymity of participants and safeguarding the information gathered in the system is of utmost importance to cattle producers.

As the conversation continues in Washington D.C., NCBA will remain engaged. Cattlemen and women appreciate the efforts of FDA to help bring more transparency and increased granularity to the antibiotic sales data for food-producing animals as well as the collaborative approach FDA is taking between industry users, federal agencies, and animal health companies.

–NCBA Press Release

Senate Hearing Reviews Army Corps’ Role in WOTUS

waterWASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2015) – Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water held a hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers’ participation in the “waters of the United States” regulation. The subcommittee focused on internal memos released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While the memos show the Corps leadership having serious concerns with the science underlying the WOTUS rule, Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army insisted, as co-author, the Corps supported the final rule.

The hearing provided ample opportunity to highlight the issues raised in the memos and the gulf between the Corps and EPA in the arbitrary standards used in the final rule. Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman, said the arbitrary nature of this rule poses a danger to all land uses.

“This rule is clearly not based on science, nor does it relate to keeping our waters clean,” said Ellis. “It is a transparent land grab by the administration and EPA. Cattlemen and women will continue to oppose this rule in Congress and in the courtroom. This rule and the flawed rulemaking process underlie the need for legislation to withdraw the rule and compel the agencies to work with all stakeholders.”

The WOTUS rule became effective in all but 13 states on August 28. A Federal Circuit Judge in North Dakota granted a temporary preliminary injunction on implementation of the WOTUS rule in the case brought by the 13 states before his court. Since enforcement of the rule, 31 states and numerous stakeholders, including the NCBA and Public Lands Council, have engaged in 22 lawsuits challenging EPA’s transparent lack of authority to regulate all waters in the United States.

NCBA and PLC support S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the EPA to withdraw the final WOTUS rule and work with stakeholders in drafting a new rule to clarify the Clean Water Act.

–NCBA Press Release

Senate Reauthorizes Mandatory Livestock Price Reporting Without Critical Provision

WASHINGTON (Sept. 22, 2015) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association appreciates the efforts of the Senate in reauthorizing Mandatory Livestock Price Reporting through 2020. NCBA President, Philip Ellis, a Wyoming cattle producer, said this information provides producers greater transparency in market conditions.

“Transparency is essential to the functioning of our livestock markets, and our ability as producers to make decisions critical to our profitability,” said Ellis. “We appreciate the Senate’s reauthorization of this provision before it expired at the end of the month. Unfortunately, due to the actions of Senator Stabenow, not only does this legislation lack the status of an essential service, the bill differs substantially from the House version; subjecting producers to further delay and uncertainty.”

Mandatory Price Reporting requires meat packers to report to USDA the prices they pay for cattle, hogs and sheep purchased from farmers and ranchers for slaughter, as well as the prices they receive for the sale of wholesale beef, pork and lamb. Mandatory Price Reporting also requires USDA to issue daily, weekly and monthly livestock and meat market reports.

“For American’s cattlemen and women, market transparency is not a luxury,” said Ellis. “Cattle markets are complex and ever-changing, and cattle producers like myself rely on the information provided by price reporting to make informed decisions. The actions of Senator Stabenow have ensured that cattle producers will not have access to this critical market information in the event of a government shutdown.”

In contrast to the House version, the Senate’s Mandatory Price Reporting legislation does not make the program an essential government service, rendering the program vulnerable to future government shutdowns. Due to these differences, the legislation now must be conferenced with the House, and signed by the President prior to expiration on Sept. 30, 2015.