MSGA News

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Public Input Sought on ESA Reform

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Seek Public Input on Proposed Reforms to Improve & Modernize Implementation of the Endangered Species Act July 19, 2018 Contact(s): U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Gavin_Shire@fws.gov, 703-358-2649 NOAA Fisheries: Katherine.Brogan@noaa.gov, 301-427-8030 Continuing efforts to improve how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries today proposed revisions to certain regulations to ensure clarity and consistency. The changes incorporate public input, best science and best practices to improve reliability, regulatory efficiency and environmental stewardship.

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Nearly $2 Billion Now Available for Eligible Producers Affected by 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2018 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 now may apply for assistance to help recover and rebuild their farming operations. Sign up begins July 16, 2018, and continues through November 16, 2018. “Hurricanes and wildfires caused billions of dollars in losses to America’s farmers last year. Our objective is to get relief funds into the hands of eligible producers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “We are making immediate, initial payments of up to 50 percent of the calculated assistance so producers can pay their bills.” Additional payments will be issued, if funds remain available, later in the year. The program, known as the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) was authorized by Congress earlier this year by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Eligible crops, trees, bushes, or vines, located in a county declared in a Presidential

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The Montana Pesticide Waste Disposal Program and 2018 Sites

from Cecil Tharp, MSU Pesticide Education Specialist Pesticide applicators should be aware of the Montana Pesticide Waste Disposal Program and 2018 sites. Delaying removal of unused pesticide products often leads to corroded containers that pose unnecessary risks towards the environmental and human health. By following a few simple steps applicators can ensure that unused pesticides are discarded and disposed of legally and safely. Disposing of Pesticide Waste Applicators should use the Montana pesticide waste disposal program if they have unknown pesticide products (due to worn product label), unregistered pest

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“Taking the gamble out of grazing,” theme of upcoming national conference

Interested in learning more about proper grazing lands management and stewardship sustainability? Then ride to Reno, Nev. this December to hear first-hand from cowboy and industry experts how to take the gamble out of grazing at the 7thNational Conference on Grazing Lands, Dec. 2-5, 2018, being held at the Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino. “We look to have another outstanding conference in Nevada this year,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition (NatGLC). “This is a must-attend conference for anyone striving to manage their grazing lands in an environmentally sustainable, economic manner. From the conference information provided by renowned grazing managers, to the numerous opportunities to network and exchange ideas, there is something for every attendee.” Fred Provenza and Jim Gerrish are just two of the renowned speakers on tap to share decades of experience. Provenza, professor emeritus

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Witnesses Explain Multiple Benefits of Public Lands Grazing at Congressional Hearing

WASHINGTON (July 12, 2018) A lieutenant governor, a scientist, and an agricultural industry leader made the case for eliminating regulatory burdens and legal loopholes impacting livestock grazing on federal land during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing held today. Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, University of Montana Professor Dr. Dave Naugle, and Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse provided testimony to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing entitled “The Essential Role of Livestock Grazing on Federal Lands and Its Importance to Rural America.” The witnesses emphasized the valuable contribution public lands ranchers make to the economic viability of rural communities and the health of America’s shared natural resources. “Ranchers are indispensable in the successful management of our public lands. Unlike government administrators, who a

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USDA-NRCS Montana Offers Funding for Conservation Gardens, High Tunnels

Bozeman, Mont., July 11, 2018–The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for grants to establish community gardens, pollinator gardens and seasonal high tunnels through the Montana NRCS Conservation Garden Project. Proposals will be accepted from eligible entities for projects located in Montana, including city or township governments, county governments, special districts, state governments, nonprofit organizations, independent school districts, institutions of higher education, and Federally recognized Native American tribal governments. The NRCS has funding available for the Montana NRCS Conservation Garden Project as follows: Grants up to $4,000 will be available for a community garden. Funds are to be used for garden supplies which can include tools, seed, fertilizer, soil and soil additives, irrigation materials and garden materials. Technical assistance by NRCS staff will be available to help det

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Join our team – MSGA is hiring!

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is hiring for the Director of Natural Resources position. This position is responsible for the formulation, institution, and monitoring of policies, programs, and issues related to natural resources that are affecting the cattle industry. This position also serves as the executive assistant for the Montana Association of State Grazing Districts and the Montana Public Lands Council and represents the associations at the state legislature. A full job description is included below. Director of Natural Resources Oversees natural resource division, represents MSGA at the state legislature, serves as the executive assistant for Montana Association of State Grazing Districts (MASGD), and the Montana Public Lands Council (MPLC). Reports to: Executive Vice President (EVP) MONTANA STOCKGROWERS ASSOCIATION (MSGA)

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MDOL Accepting Public Comment for Administrative Rule Changes

The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) will be holding public meetings seeking comment on a number of proposed rule changes. Click here for a complete list of the proposed rule changes. Public Meetings have been scheduled in the following communities: July 17th, 9 am at Absarokee Elementary School July 17th, 2 pm at Bridger Elementary July 18th, 9 am at The Eagles in Big Timber July 23rd, 10 am at Jefferson High in Boulder July 24th, 10 am at Townsend School Of particular note are the changes to rule 32.3.436. The change would require all female cattle over 12 months of age to be official vaccinates for brucellosis in any county that contains or borders a brucellosis designated

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Livestock Groups Urge Swift Passage of ESA Amendments of 2018

The Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) today urged swift passage of the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018. The amendments, introduced today by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, are based on the Western Governor Association Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative bipartisan policy recommendations. In a letter of support, PLC President Dave Eliason, NCBA President Kevin Kester, and ASI President Mike Corn stated: “As the nation’s largest non-governmental bloc of land managers, ranchers take great pride in their integral role in species conservation and recovery. For generations, livestock producers have been dedicated to improving the health of landscapes where wildlife call home.

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MSU Extension Ag Alert: Soil Acidity, An emerging issue that requires scouting

MSU researchers encourage crop producers and crop advisers to be on the lookout for decreasing soil pH leading to low production and sometimes crop failure. Farmers in several Montana counties are experiencing nearly complete yield loss in portions of their fields due to soil acidity (low pH). This is an emerging issue in the state, where low soil pH has traditionally not been a concern. MSU soil scientists, Extension Agents, crop advisers, and producers have now identified fields in 20 Montana counties with soil pH levels below 5.5, some as low as 3.8. MSU will be hosting a field day at the Post Farm (west of Bozeman) on July 13, where Clain Jones, Extension soil fertility specialist, will share research-based information on the topic in the afternoon. Bulked soil sampling (containing multiple subsamples) in the top 0 to 6-inch depth across large field landscapes may not be helpful in identifying f

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USDA Report Highlights Benefits of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for Farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today highlighted a new report showing the positive impacts of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on American farms. Six months after the President signed the tax cuts and reforms into law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) has released a report, titled “Estimated Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Farms and Farm Households.”  The report examines in detail how the historic tax cuts and reforms will alleviate the tax burden on American farms to help them grow and prosper.  According to the report, average tax rates are expected to decline across all farm sizes and commodity specializations and fewer farm estates will be subject to the Death Tax. “Most family farms are run as small businesses, and they should be able to keep more of what they earn to reinvest in their operations and take c

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Montana Department of Agriculture Awarded USDA Farm to School Grant

Funding will help schools with procurement, distribution of local foods Helena, Mont. – Producers and students throughout Montana have reason to celebrate, as the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been awarded a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance farm to school efforts throughout the state. MDA was awarded $99,980 and will partner with the National Center for Appropriate Technology and Montana Farm to School to increase the procurement and distribution of local food in K-12 schools in Montana. “Farm to school initiatives continue to grow throughout Montana and this grant will build upon those efforts,” said Ben Thomas, Director of MDA. “When we can give our producers another market opportunity, while also providing our students

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Public Lands Council Announces 50th Anniversary Celebration 

The nation’s voice for western public lands ranchers will commemorate its 50thanniversary this fall in Park City, Utah during the Public Lands Council (PLC) Annual Meeting, September 27-29, 2018. The meeting, held at the Grand Summit Resort, will bring together cattle and sheep producers, industry partners, government officials, and lawmakers to reflect on the past five decades of the PLC and the strong future ahead for the public lands ranching industry.   “Our annual meeting is always special, but this celebration will allow us to reflect on the tremendous impact of public lands ranching and to recognize the men and women who he

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Cattlewomen to host second “Urban Meets Rural” tour June 23

The Fallon Creek Cattlewomen of the Ismay, Mont., area invite their urban friends and neighbors to an afternoon in the country full of ranch tours, activities and a beef barbecue on Saturday, June 23. Hosted on the Griffin Ranch 40 miles east of Miles City, the activities will start at 2 p.m. with wagon tours to learn about the cattle and farming operations of the Griffin family. Following the tour will be games and activities for the entire family. Wrapping up the day is a steak fry and full-course meal. The entire “Urban Meets Rural” tour is offered free of charge to those interested in learning more about how ranchers raise healthy, sustainable beef and care for the land. Registration and additional details are available through Eventbrite.com by searching for “Urban Meets Rural.” Allow approximately an hour travel time to the ranch from Miles City. The route includes 31 miles of paved

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Stockgrowers name new Executive Vice President

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), today, announced Jay Bodner of Helena, Mont. as their new Executive Vice President. This announcement comes after a month-long search for the new head of the association. “After an extensive search and interview process, Jay was an easy choice for the new Executive Vice President, said Bryan Mussard, President of MSGA. “He’s been with the Association for sixteen years, he is well respected throughout the state and we want to expand on his potential.” Bodner, a native of Raynesford, Mont., has worked for MSGA for the past 16 years as the Director of Natural Resources and lead lobbyist. During his tenure at MSGA, he also served as Executive Director of the Montana Public Lands Council and the Montana Association of State Grazing Districts. Jay and his wife Donna res

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Producers Reminded to get Coverage Through State Hail Insurance Program

With hailstorms picking up throughout the state, the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding producers to get covered through the State Hail Insurance Program. Montana producers can conveniently access and fill out applications for state hail insurance online by going to www.hail.mt.gov. Producers can insure crops against hail damage at the maximum coverage rate of $75 per acre for dryland and $114 per acre for irrigated land. Rates charged are a percentage of the insured amount and vary by county. A detailed list of rates by county and crop can be found on the program’s website. Completed forms can be emailed, mailed or faxed to the department or used as a reference when you contact the office by phone.

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Rapid snowmelt causes record-breaking streamflows across the state of Montana during May

On May 11, 2018, the Clark Fork River above Missoula reached 33,250 cubic feet per second (cfs), the highest flow recorded since the river reached 48,000 cfs on June 1, 1908. This year’s peak flow was driven almost purely by the rapid snowmelt from the abundant and anomalous snowpack across the basin, unlike other big peak years (1964 and 1975) when there was a significant rain event in addition to already occurring snowmelt. “This year will stand out in history as one of the biggest years on record for purely snowmelt-driven flows in rivers across the state,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) water supply specialist for Montana. “The flows we experienced during May were a direct result of the well above normal to record-breaking snowpack in place before snowmelt began along with above average temperatures and abundant sunshine.” While most rivers didn’t set new records for peak flows with regards to an instantaneous flow measurement (cfs),

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Carbon Conservation District to Host Montana Range Days

The Carbon Conservation District, along with the local and state Montana Range Days planning committee, is hosting the annual Montana Range Days event at the Fairgrounds in Red Lodge, Mont., June 18-20, 2018. Montana Range Days began in 1976 in Jordan, Mont., and has continued throughout the years to provide an educational format to youth ages 4-19, as well as adults of all ages, to have an on-the-ground, hands-on learning experience.  Rangeland professionals and landowners alike learn new and innovative ways of managing natural resources in Montana. Rangeland is the largest of those natural resources with rangelands, grazable pasture and forestlands covering 70 percent of the state. “We are ready for our second year as host of Montana Range Days. It is a great opportunity to educate folks about Montana’s largest natural resource, rangelands.  It also provides us a chance to showcase the Red Lodge area,” said Scott Blain, chairman for the local planning committee. Estimating a

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MSGA to host agency officials at MidYear Meeting

The Montana Stockgrowers Association will be hosting their annual MidYear Meeting in Dillon, MT June 14-15. A highlight of this year’s event will be the two Agricultural issues briefings held on June 15 at 9:30 am and 2:30 pm at the Beaverhead County Fairgrounds. “This is a great opportunity to engage with high ranking officials at this historic event,” said Bryan Mussard MSGA President. “Everything from natural resources to trade to environmental regulation will be discussed during these briefings. You won’t want to miss the high caliber of speakers that will be on hand to answer your questions.” Confirmed speakers include U.S. Senator Steve Daines; Allen Rowley, U.S. Forest Service Director of Forest Management; Brian Steed U.S. Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director, Programs & Policy; Langston D. Hull, DVM, PhD USDA APHIS Director – Cattle Health Center; Alan Mikkelsen BBureauof Reclamation Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Water and Western Resource Issues. Other invit

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FMCSA Announces Clarifying Regulatory Guidance for Transportation of Agricultural Commodities, Personal Conveyance

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced new regulatory guidance clarifying the longstanding 150 air-miles hours-of-service agricultural commodity exemption as well as providing additional explanatory detail of the “personal conveyance” provision. “Due to input from commercial vehicle stakeholders and the public, the Department has taken steps to provide greater clarity and flexibility regarding the intent and effect of these regulations, for the agricultural and other sectors,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. FMCSA published Federal Register notices proposing regulatory guidance for the transportation of agricultural commodities and the use of personal conveyance in December, 2017 and requested public comment. FMCSA is providing clarity on the use of the agricultural exemption and personal conveyance to both industry and law enforcement along with providing as much flexibility a

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USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts through Continuous Signup As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA)office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018. “The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife. On the road, I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector

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MSGA Applauds Introduction of Legislation Addressing Hours of Service Changes for Livestock Haulers

The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauded the introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act, noting this legislation would ensure animal welfare and the safety of livestock haulers. The bill was introduced last week by U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Doug Jones of Alabama. Following the introduction, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has also signed on as a cosponsor. “We would like to thank Sens. Tester and Daines for cosponsoring this common-sense piece of legislation. The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present serious challenges for our industry and jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Bryan Mussard President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This has been a priority of the Associati

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Tester Works Across the Aisle to Strengthen Montana’s #1 Industry, Protect Clean Water

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today worked across the aisle to strengthen Montana’s #1 industry and protect clean water for rural communities. Tester used his position as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include funding for important Montana initiatives in two recent bipartisan laws.  During a committee meeting, Tester voted in favor of both the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill and the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, sending them to the Senate floor for a final vote. “Both of these priorities reflect the infrastructure, agriculture, and business needs of Montana,” Tester said.  “When we invest in our farmers and our infrastructure, we see big returns to Montana’s economy.  This is further proof that when Republicans and Democrats work together, good things get done.”   The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill contains the following Montana provisions: ·         $3.7 million to keep the Fort Keogh Research Lab in Miles City fro

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Secretary Perdue Applauds Red Tape Reduction for Farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the removal of a burdensome regulation that has long plagued family farms. The rule requiring producers to obtain Data Universal Number System (DUNS) and System for Award Management (SAM) numbers to participate in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs has been eliminated. Congress included this repeal in the FY 2018 Omnibus spending package, USDA’s official regulatory change will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. “I’m pleased Congress helped us to achieve one of our regulatory goals of cutting red tape for producers utilizing conservation programs by exempting them from SAM and DUNS requirements,” Secretary Perdue said. “These numbers were designed for billion-dollar government contractors, not everyday farmers trying to support their families. These changes help streamline the customer experience for farmers, which is a top priority at USDA.” Prior to this rul

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Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator

From USDA: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices. “As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer-focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer-focused mission area.” Richard Fordyce most recently served as State Executive Director for FSA in Missouri. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Fordyce served as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017. In 2015, Fordyce was awarded the Missouri Farm Bureau Disting

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State Hail Insurance Staff to Hold Meetings Throughout Montana

While we are currently dealing with the fits and starts of springtime in Montana, it's important to remember that hail season is right around the corner. Staff from the Montana Hail Insurance program will soon be visiting communities throughout Montana to sell policies and educate producers on the program. Staff will be holding meetings in the following areas: Conrad, 5/29/2018, 10:00 am-12:00 pm: Pondera County Courthouse Lewistown, 5/29/2018, 5:00 pm-7:00 pm: Yogo Inn Circle, 5/30/2018, 11:00 am-1:00 pm: McCone County Fairgrounds Producers can insure crops against hail damage at the maximum coverage rate of $75 per acre for dryland

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Record to well-above normal snowpack primed to melt across the state of Montana.

FROM NRCS:  After a winter and spring that dropped seemingly non-stop snowfall across most of Montana, spring runoff is finally here. April started just like many of the other months so far this snow season, with abundant precipitation falling and continuing to build the mountain snowpack, according to snow survey data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Some areas in southwest Montana set new records for April precipitation (Gallatin and Madison valleys), and almost all areas except the Rocky Mountain Front and Hi-Line received near to above normal precipitation. “The crazy fact about this April was that average to well-above average precipitation fell during the first 18 days of the month; the latter half of the month was dominated by high pressure with abundant sunshine and well-above-average temperatures,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana. Early Apr

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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

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Nominations open for Environmental Stewardship Award

The Montana Environmental Stewardship committee has opened nominations for their 2019 award. The Environmental Stewardship Award Program is an opportunity to honor and showcase ranchers in the state who go the extra mile in the conservation and stewardship of their natural resources. Ranchers can be nominated for the award before June 1 at www.mtbeef.org. Sidney, Montana rancher Jim Steinbeisser chairs the state’s Environmental Stewardship Award Program committee. The committee consists of a team of ranchers and conservation organizations who are focused on showcasing how innovative stewardship and good ranching business go hand-in-hand. He says the award program is a place to start an open, honest dialogue in ranching communities and Montana cities about how ranchers care for their land and livestock. “Ranchers, in general, are just humble people. We don’t want to brag or pat ourselves on the back, but that’s not what this award is about,” he said. “It’s about sharing the fac

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Weak Calf Syndrome

Written by Dr. Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Newborn calves that present weak calf syndrome are those that are not able or are slow to rise, stand, or nurse.  Calves born in this condition will often die within a few days after birth.  There may be several possible reasons for weak calf syndrome.  Factors that may cause weak calf syndrome are bad weather, selenium deficiency, poor nutrition during late gestation, dystocia, cow age, and other trauma to the calf.  Weak calves must be treated or helped immediately after birth to improve their chances of survival. Due to the atypical winter and spring, we have experience

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Perdue Announces Additional Hurricane and Wildfire Recovery Details

Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued this statement: “Last year our nation experienced some of the most significant disasters we have seen in decades

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One Montana releases Drought Resilient Ranching Workshops Report

In cooperation with MSU Extension Service and the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, One Montana hosted three workshops (Clyde Park, Two Dot, and Winnett) to provide an opportunity for collaboration in regards to drought resilience. The goal was to facilitate conversations and share knowledge to answer several important questions:  In times of drought, how can farmers and ranchers implement effective management strategies? How can producers adapt to changing weather conditions? What resources are available to predict weather and soil conditions? What resources do producers already utilize? What recommendations do participants have for the USDA on improving drought-related programs? Workshop content included presentations from Michael Downey of DNRC about the Flash Drought of 2017, Lee Schmelzer of Stillwater County Extension about the Montan

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Montana to Exercise Animal Disease Response

The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) is collaborating with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other state and local agencies to conduct an animal disease response exercise, May 8-10, 2018. The three-day functional exercise will enable MDOL to practice the state’s animal disease response plan. Numerous federal, state and local government agencies will participate in the exercise, which will be based on an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United States. “Foot-and-mouth disease would have devastating consequences for Montana’s livestock industry and how we handle the initial response would be crucial,” said State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski. “Testing our response plan in an exercise format will be very beneficial and we look forward to participating in the exercise.” Foot-and-mouth disease was last identified in the United States in 1929. FMD i

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Dillon, Mont. to host Stockgrowers’ MidYear Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:  Kori Anderson 406.442.3420 kori@mtbeef.org Dillon, Mont. to host Stockgrowers' MidYear Meeting The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) has announced their Midyear Meeting will be held in Dillon, Mont. June 14-15. MidYear 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 year. “Please join us for an unforgettable summer convention in Dillon!  It's time to show southwest Montana how important ranching is to preserving the west.  This year, we have invited the entire community and surrounding area to join us in this great celebration,” said Bryan Mussard of Dillon, President of MSGA. “Dillon, Montana is the crossroads of agriculture and environmentalism. Every time an endangered species is identified in Montana, there is a cow standing over it, protecting it with thousands of ac

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MSGA Seeks Applicants for Executive Vice President

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking applicants for the position of Executive Vice President. The Executive Vice President is ultimately responsible for the overall management of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and its operations. Qualified applicants will have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university, with a minimum of 5 years of relevant work experience at an executive level.  Candidates are required to have a background in livestock production either by experience, education or both.  Qualified applicants will demonstrate strong verbal and written communications skills, financial management and the development of human capital. Exceptional candidates will show a strong and successful background in organizational management and resource development, evidenced by years of experience, and contacts in the political, ranching and natural resources industries. The ability to travel locally, regionally, and nationally, as well as the abil

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USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity. “Rural communities need forward-thinking strategies to build strong, resilient futures,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center is focused on identifying unique opportunities, pioneering new, creative solutions to tough challenges, and making Rural Development’s programs easier to understand, use and access.” The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural America. An interactive feature allows webpage visitors to submit comments on ways USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery. Innovation Center staff will review these recommendatio

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Fifth-Generation Montana rancher chosen to attend national conference

Montana Stockgrowers Foundation selects fifth-generation Sidney rancher to attend a National leadership conference The Montana Stockgrowers Foundation (MSF) has selected Katelyn Dynneson of Sidney, Mont. to represent the Montana Stockgrowers Associaton (MSGA) at the Young Cattlemen’s Conference this year. The Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC), held May 30 – June 7, is an opportunity for cattlemen and cattlewomen between the ages of 25 and 50 to visit segments of the beef industry in other parts of our nation with young cattlemen from other states. Facilitated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), participants will travel with national attendees to Denver, Chicago, and Washington D.C. “I’m incredibly excited and honor

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Montana FSA: Disaster Assistance for Flood-Affected Montana Producers

2018 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers who have losses due to disease, adverse weather or other conditions, such as flooding, blizzards and wildfires, not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs. Eligible livestock losses include grazing losses not covered under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), additional feed purchases in excess of normal and loss of purchased feed and/or mechanically harvested feed due to an eligible adverse weather event, additional cost of transporting water because of an eligible drought and additional cost associated with gathering livestock to treat for cattle tick fever. Eligible honeybee losses include loss of purchased feed due to an eligible adverse weather event, cost of additional feed

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Drought Still a Possibility in 2018

From Northern Ag Network: The 2018 Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum took place in Bozeman this week. Livestock producers from Montana and the surrounding states gathered to learn about new findings in nutrition needs and livestock management.  Drought resource management was the theme of the event and attendees determined that there is still a real possibility in the summer of 2018 for drought. Dr. Megan Van Emon is the Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at Montana State University (MSU). She was an organization and presenter at the event. She says that “the event is a way to bring all of the aspects of the industry, not only beef cattle but livestock producers in general. As well as feed dealers and extension agents to hear our wealth of knowledge that we can bring together into a single event.”

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Jay Bodner named interim Executive Vice President of MSGA

Montana Stockgrowers Association Director of Natural Resources, Jay Bodner, has been named the interim Executive Vice President upon the resignation of Errol Rice. Jay Bodner has served in his current capacity for the past sixteen years.   For twelve years, Errol has tirelessly led the organization; his leadership and vision will be missed. Errol has accepted a position with a Montana based firm that is a leading provider of business develo

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MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

[caption id="attachment_7230" align="alignnone" width="980"] 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.[/caption]   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:  Kori Anderson 406.442.3420 kori@mtbeef.org 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 Bry

Concerns over “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

NCBA, PLC Concerns About "Recreation Not Red-Tape Act" PLC/NCBA News Release - The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council yesterday expressed reservations about H.R. 3400, the so-called “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act,” as the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee prepares to mark up the bill. “We strongly support the principle of multiple use of public lands,” said Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBAs Federal Lands. “That said, the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring one use over another, and that’s what this legislation does as it's currently written.” The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 requires multiple use on public lands. This means that every American has a place on public lands – whet

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NRCS Sets Program Funding Application Cutoff for June 1

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set a June 1, 2018, application cutoff for agricultural operators to be considered for 2019 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 landowners and operators defray the costs of installing conservation practices. NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for 2019 funding consideration must be submitted by June 1, 2018. Applications made after the June 1 cutoff will be considered in the next funding cycle. Additional information is available on the Montana NRCS website at 

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NRCS Accepting Applications for Upper Clark Fork Drought Resiliency Project

From NRCS: Agricultural producers in Montana’s Upper Clark Fork River Watershed area have until May 18, 2018, to apply for financial assistance for conservation practices funded through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. In February 2016, a proposal submitted by the Watershed Restoration Coalition was accepted by NRCS to be funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The program will provide funding for partnership projects between public (Federal and State) and private entities and nongovernmental organizations. The Upper Clark Fork project makes available a special five-year funding pool that NRCS will use to fund projects in the Upper Clark Fork watershed area. This is the second year funding is being made available and NRCS anticipates funding projects each year for the duration of the project agreement. The RCPP project sign-up period will

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NCBA Lays Out Principles for Regulating Fake Meat

Today the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. The comments, filed in response to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Petition Number 18-01, encourage USDA to look beyond modifying “standards of identity” in order to provide adequate protection for beef producers and consumers. “It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States

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Snowpack Still on the Rise, Well Above Average, and Setting Records in Some Parts of Montana

From NRCS: Unlike February, snowfall wasn’t record-breaking in Montana during March, but it was sufficient to keep the snowpack near to well above normal on April 1, according to snow survey data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “One thing is for sure; it’s been a snowy winter across the state of Montana,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana, “and there’s still more to come.” Last month, records were set for both monthly totals for February snowfall, and for total snowpack accumulation on March 1. Many snowpack measuring locations that feed Montana’s rivers and streams remain record high for April 1. Ten SNOwpack TELemetry (SNOTEL) and snowcourse locations remain the highest on record for this date, and 12 measurement locations are the second highest on record. These sites can be found in the mountains that feed the Upper Yellowstone River, Upper Clark Fork and Missouri Mains

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USDA Implements up to $2.36 Billion to Help Agricultural Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

‘2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program’ to Aid Recovery in Rural Communities U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make these disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and devastating wildfires. The 2017 calendar year was a historic year for natural disasters, and this investment is part of a broader suit

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MDA Announces Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Awards

The Montana Department of Agriculture and Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council has awarded over $1.74 million for the development and implementation of noxious weed management programs in March 2018. The grants assist counties, conservation districts, local communities, tribes, researchers and educators in efforts to combat noxious weeds in Montana. 57 local cooperative projects were recommended for funding at a total of $1,218,935 or 70% of all dollars awarded. Ten research projects were recommended for funding at $248,236 or 14% and 11 educational projects are recommended for $279,681 or 16%. Combined research and educational projects recommended for funding total $527,917 or 30% of all funding available. In addition to the $1.74 million grant hearing awards, each of the 56 counties and 7 reservations in the state are eligible to receive $7,500 per year. The Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fun

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Governor Bullock issues EO to aid winter hay hauling

Due to the effects of Montana's severe winter conditions, Montana Governor Steve Bullock has waived certain hay transportation requirements. Yesterday, Governor Bullock signed an Executive Order that allows for the movement of vehicles that may exceed size and weight limits when it is necessary for responding to emergency situations brought on by weather or other natural events. The Order allows baled livestock feed within the state to exceed the statutory limits by 20 percent along with allowing nighttime transportation of said oversized hay loads. While operating under this Order, commercial vehicle drivers may not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a motor vehicle and are encouraged to meet the lighting requirements for loads over 10 feet in width. The exemption will last for thirty days unless revoked prior to expiration.    

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Calling for Nominations for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards

Award applications for the 12th annual National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards now are being accepted. The 2019 National BQA Awards recognize five winners in the areas of beef, dairy, marketing and education: The BQA Cow Calf and BQA Feedyard awards recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations. The BQA / FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) award honors those dairy operations that demonstrate the best in animal care and handling while implementing the BQA and FARM programs at the highest levels. The BQA Marketer Award acknowledges livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified. The BQA Educator Award celebrates individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle

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2018 Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum

Written by Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist   Each year Montana State University Extension and the Montana Feed Association host the Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum.  Dr. Rachel Endecott has been, for the past several years, the conference coordinator and this year she passed the reins on to me.  I want to thank Dr. Endecott for her support and developing this conference into such an excellent event. This year we will continue this excellent conference with the theme “Drought Resource Management.”  The drought in 2017 was one of the worst seen in the Northern Great Plains and we hope to provide additional resources for livestock producers, Extension faculty, and agriculture professionals.  The conference will take place April 17 and 18 at the GranTree Inn in Bozeman, MT. We have an excellent line-up of speakers from Montana State University, University of Wyoming, USDA-ARS Fort Keogh, and elsewhere.  These speakers will focus o

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USDA Announces $8.4 Million to Support Veterans and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement (OPPE) today announced up to $8.4 million in available funding for training and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. Funding is made through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program). “The USDA is committed to reaching all farmers and ranchers,” said OPPE Director Diane Cullo. “Through the 2501 program, the USDA is building lasting relationships among these farmers and ranchers, the local organizations that serve them, and the USDA’s local, state, regional, and national offices.” The 2501 Program was originally authorized by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990. 2501 grants seek to enhance the equitable participation of socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers in USDA resources and programs, such

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The Montana Hunter Advancement Program:  Ethics, Access and Education

A Project of Common Ground www.montanamasterhunter.com Common Ground, a collaborative group of landowner and sportsmen organizations, is developing a comprehensive, advanced hunter education program designed to put more ethical, educated, and effective hunters in the field. The 2018 pilot course is now accepting applications from qualified hunters. The program’s mission is to provide advanced hunter education that increases hunter competence, ethical hunting behavior, private land access and knowledge of agriculture and land stewardship. The goals of the program are as follows: To educate hunters about landowner issues and concerns related to hunter access, including but not limited to, respect for private property, appropriate use of ranch roads, impacts of w

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“Positive Developments” in Omnibus Spending Bill

Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), released the following statement: “The omnibus spending bill includes a number of positive developments for cattlemen and women, including language that would prevent 200,000 farms and ranches from being regulated like toxic waste sites, delay the implementation of electronic logging devices for livestock haulers for another six months, and provide a critical fix for wildfire funding that also provides expedited authority to implement much-needed vegetation management on federal lands. We are also glad to see refinements to the tax code that address the 199A issue. NCBA and our affiliates have been working closely with Congress to ensure the spending bill addresses issues of concern for U.S. ranchers and beef producers, and we are glad to see our policy priorities reflected in the legislation. We urge Congress to take the next step and vote ‘Yes’ when the bill comes up fo

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Grazing Lands Focus of Upcoming National Conference

The National Grazing Lands Coalition (NatGLC) will host the 7th National Conference on Grazing Lands Dec. 2-5, 2018, at the Peppermill in Reno, Nev. Conference organizers expect more than 800 ranchers, professors, land managers, researchers, public officials, conservationists, and students to attend this national conference and participate in the exchange of ideas and information on the latest grazing land issues. “We are excited about bringing this national conference to Nevada,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition. “Grazing lands make up more than a quarter of the private land acres in the United States and serve many roles from homes for livestock and wildlife to sponges for rainfall, carbon reservoirs, hunting and fishing grounds, and much, much more.” Featured speakers include two renowned grazing experts, Jim Gerrish and Fred Provenza. Gerrish is a grazing lands producer and consultant dedicated to aiding farmers and ranchers in more effectively m

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Tester to Washington: Cut the Crap

Senator Cosponsors Bill to Stop Federal Government from Regulating Cow Pies   (U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that will stop the federal government from regulating cow pies. The Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act permanently flushes a regulation that would require small family farmers and ranchers to report air emissions from animal waste to federal officials. “It's not just the smell coming out of Washington, this regulation is total crap,” said Tester. “Farmers and ranchers have plenty of real work to do, counting cow turds is not in the job description. This bill will bring some Montana commonsense to a place that’s totally out of touch with life in rural America.” For nearly 40 years, family farmers and ranchers were exempted from reporting animal-caused air pollution to the government. But a recent D.C. Circuit Court threw out the ranch exemption fo

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USDA and Local Partners Offer Opportunities to Reduce Wildfire Risk

The goal of the Capital 360 partnership is to improve forest health by integrating resource management across all administrative boundaries. Fuels reduction treatment projects will be strategically placed across Broadwater, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Powell counties. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service are working together to fund the Capital 360 partnership across private and public lands. NRCS projects will use Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds. While EQIP applications are accepted year-round, applications for the Capital 360 initiative must be received by May 18, 2018, to be considered for this funding period. Contact your local USDA field office for more information and to apply. Broadwater – Justin Meissner, 406-266-3146 x 103 Jefferson County – Nancy Sweeney, 406-287-3215 x 301 Lewis and Clark County – John George, 406-449-5000 x 101 Powell County – Glen Green, 4

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Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame seeks nominations for Class of 2018

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame (MCHF) is seeking nominations for the 2018 Hall of Fame induction round. Every year, the MCHF honors living and historical figures that have made notable contributions to Montana’s western heritage. “We invite people from across Montana to identify those in their communities who are most deserving of inclusion in the hall of fame,” said Bill Galt, board president. “Nominations are open and welcome from the public at large.” 2018 marks the eleventh year of honoring inductees. The Board of Trustees will cast votes to select inductees from each of the 12 Trustee Districts based on nominations from the public. Nominees can be men, women, ranches, stage coach lines, animals, hotels, etc.—anyone or anything that has made a notable contribution to our Montana Western heritage. A

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MDA Encouraging Support for Ag Literacy Program During Tax Season

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is encouraging Montanans to support the Montana Agriculture in the Classroom program this tax season by contributing to the voluntary check-off program when filing this year’s income taxes. “As the average age of farmers and ranchers continues to rise, it’s more important than ever that we educate the next generation on the importance of agriculture,” said MDA Director Ben Thomas. “Contributing to the check-off allows filers to invest directly in students and teachers throughout Montana.” Filers can make tax-deductible donations to the program by checking the box for Ag Literacy in Montana Schools, by selecting either line 69c on the long form or 18c on the EZ form. The form indicates $5 and $10 donation amounts, as well as a blank line to write in the filer’s designated donation amount. The Montana Agriculture in the Classroom program provides schools and

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NCBA Applauds Another 90-Day Delay in Electronic Logging Device Mandate

Mandate Was To Have Taken Effect on Sunday, March 18 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Transportation's announcement that the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate will be delayed another 90 days for agricultural haulers: "This is obviously good news for America's cattle haulers and producers, and it will provide FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that simply do not work for those hauling live animals. "We would like to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez for listening to our concerns and working with us to find a permanent, workable solution."

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USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Contracts

Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to renew their Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contract. Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. Participants with existing CSP contracts expiring on Dec. 31, 2018, can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. NRCS will mail contract renewal notification letters to all participants whose contracts expire in 2018, which will contain instructions on how to apply for renewal. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by April 13.

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Current Snowpack and Coming Spring Weather Critical to Summer Water Supplies

Snowfall in some locations of Montana has been record-breaking during February, resulting in snowpack totals for March 1st that are well above normal for most river basins, according to snow survey data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Twenty-five SNOTEL (SNOwpack TELemetry) stations and manual measurement locations set new records for February totals, and 21 measurements at other locations were the second highest on record. “Abundant mountain, valley and plains snowfall this winter have Montana under a blanket of snow at the beginning of March,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana. “While this is great news for long-term water supply, it’s been hard on a lot of families and businesses in the plains.” Snowpack totals are above normal in all major river basins of the state of Montana for March 1, and some measurement locations are setting records for this date. Fifteen snowpac

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Montana Stockgrowers Foundation offers $1,000 scholarship

The Montana Stockgrowers Foundation is offering an Educational Heritage Scholarship in the amount of $1,000. “Thanks to the vision and hard work of  Stockgrower members in Southeastern Montana, the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation is once again able to offer our Educational Heritage Scholarship," noted Foundation Chairman, John Grande.  "Every year we are impressed by the quality of the college students who apply for this scholarship and we again look forward to selecting and meeting a new winner.” To be eligible for the Educational Heritage Scholarship, students must currently be enrolled in college and have completed at least one semester of coursework, be a member of Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), and demonstrate

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Hay Donations and Transportation Needed

Helena, Mont. – Due to the ongoing impacts of severe winter weather, there is currently a significant and urgent need for hay on both the Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations. Producers willing to donate hay and/or hauling services can contact emergency personnel at the following numbers: Northern Cheyenne: Gene Small – (406) 665-6290 or (406) 477-8474 Fort Belknap:            John Young – (406) 353-4874 The Montana Hay Hotline is also available to producers as an online tool to donate, buy, or sell hay. Producers needing donated hay or producers wanting to donate hay can go to the site and create a donation listing by selecting “Donation” from the “Forage Type” dropdown menu. Users can also search existing listings to see what is currently available to purchase or create a new listing of hay for sale. Visit the online tool at:  http

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Over $700,000 awarded to strengthen and diversify Montana’s Ag Industry

Governor Steve Bullock and the Agriculture Development Council today announced the recipients of $726,600 in grants and loans to agricultural businesses and organizations. “Investing in innovative, value-added projects is vital to Montana’s agriculture industry and our rural communities,” said Governor Bullock. “These projects are a great representation of the diversity of Montana agriculture and showcase some of the ingenuity happening throughout the different sectors of Montana’s economy.” A total of 25 businesses and organizations were awarded funds through the Growth Through Agriculture program (GTA) which was established by the legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana’s agriculture industry by developing new agricultural products and processes. GTA grants and loans are awarded by the Agriculture Development Council,

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Soil health and acidity workshop offered by MSU

The Chouteau County Soil Acidity Working Group has organized a soil acidity and soil health workshop at the Fort Benton Ag Center, 1205 20th St., on Feb. 27, in cooperation with Montana State University Extension, the Chouteau County Conservation District, Big Sandy Conservation District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service. MSU Extension will co-host a soil acidity and soil health workshop at the Fort Benton Ag Center on Feb. 27. Registration for the workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m., with presentations beginning at 10 a.m. Most agricultural soils in Montana have near-neutral to alkaline conditions with surface soil at pH 6.5 to 8, according to Clain Jones, a soil fertility specialist with MSU Extension. Some areas of Montana, however, have developed acidic soil layers in the seeding zone, which consists of about the top 6 inches of soil, Jones said. Speakers at the conference will address the issues surrounding increasing soil acidity.

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Montana FSA: Administration appoints new state executive director

The Trump Administration recently appointed Michael Foster as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA). Foster began his new position on Feb. 20, 2018. Foster was born and raised in Townsend, Montana, and currently resides in Bozeman. From 1991 to 1994, he represented the 32nd District in the Montana House of Representatives. He then served as a state senator representing Montana's 20th District from 1995 to 1998, where he was majority whip. Foster most recently served as regional director of advocacy for St. Vincent Healthcare. The Farm Service Agency serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs. The agency offers farmers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. FSA continues to conserve natural resources and also provide

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Cattlemen Applaud Introduction of Strong Bipartisan Bill in U.S. Senate

Ten Republicans, Ten Democrats Join Together As Initial Co-Sponsors on Fischer-Donnelly FARM Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate that would prevent farms, ranches, and other agricultural operations from having to report livestock manure data under CERCLA, the law that governs toxic Superfund sites. The bipartisan bill was introduced earlier this week with the support of 10 Republican co-sponsors and 10 Democratic cosponsors. “There’s not a lot of truly bipartisan legislation in Washington these days, but one thing that pretty much everybody can agree on is that a responsibly-run cattle ranch isn’t a toxic Superfund site,” said fifth-generation California rancher and NCBA President Kevin Kester. “On behalf of cattle producers across America, I want to sincerely thank the Senators from both parties who worked together to introduce this bipartisan bill. I also want t

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USDA, FDA Announce Formal Agreement to Bolster Coordination and Collaboration

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. announced at the White House a formal agreement aimed at making the oversight of food more efficient and effective by bolstering coordination between the two agencies. The formal agreement outlines efforts to increase interagency collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness on produce safety and biotechnology activities while providing clarity to manufacturers. “Today, Commissioner Gottlieb and I signed a formal agreement to promote coordination and the streamlining of capacities and obligations on shared concerns and jurisdiction,” said Secretary Perdue. “Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act and assigned responsibilities to the USDA and the FDA. The USDA has the knowledge and expertise to support the FDA’s work related to farming. We at the USDA have a motto: Do Right,

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Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to sponsor Cattlemen’s Conference attendee

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the structure of the U.S. cattle industry and gain insight on the legislative process that guides our business. Montana Stockgrowers Foundation will send one Montana delegate to this year’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC), held May 30 – June 7, 2018. Applications, due March 15, are available at mtbeef.org. The Young Cattlemen’s Conference is an opportunity for cattlemen and cattlewomen between the ages of 25 and 50 to visit segments of the beef industry in other parts of our nation with young ranchers from other states. Facil

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USDA Launches MARS, Delivering Market Data to Agricultural Producers Around the Globe Faster and Easier

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the launch of a new electronic data platform to deliver market price information to the commodities industry. The new web-based platform, Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS), uses state-of-the-art technology to present detailed data sets in a more customer-focused way to better support competitive markets for producers and help stabilize food prices for American families. “USDA Market News is the most relied upon source of unbiased agricultural market data,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “USDA’s on-site market reporters gather, analyze and publish unbiased data all day long to ensure fair food prices for consumers across the country and around the world. The MARS project applies the best data management practices to make that data available when and where farmers, packers and processors need it.” As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue promi

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CattleFax Predicts Large Supply and Strong Demand in 2018

CattleFax celebrated its 50th anniversary during the popular CattleFax Outlook Session at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good highlighted the industry’s profitability during 2017 and said the trend looks to continue into 2018. CattleFax analysts told the audience U.S beef cow inventory increased 2.8 million head in four years, and an additional 200,000-400,000 head are expected to be added to the herd over the next few years. Good said there are growing supplies of protein coming to market during the year ahead, including large supplies of competing proteins, which will weigh on all beef prices. “We have a bigger supply of all proteins ahead in 2018. For the past year we were very fortunate to have solid export volume,” said Good. “We are forecasting trade to increase year-over-year in 2018, but still, the rate of production is out-pacing the rate of exports.” Although beef production is expected to increase t

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Wyoming Rancher testifies before U.S. Senate Committee, calls for less regulation

Today Niels Hansen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Public Lands Council and a member of NCBA, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to explain how onerous federal regulations undermine conservation goals. “Cattle producers pride themselves on being good stewards of our country’s natural resources. We maintain open spaces, healthy rangelands, provide wildlife habitat and feed the world. Despite these critical contributions, our ability to effectively steward these resources is all too often hampered by excessive federal regulations like the ones we are discussing today,” Mr. Hansen said in written testimony. Ranchers own and manage more land than any other segment of agriculture, implementing proven conservation practices that have sustained the environment for generations. Mr. Hansen highlighted how specific laws and regulations pose challenges to this rich heritage: The 2015 Waters of the United States Rule: “As a li

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WOTUS Delayed for Two Years

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (Army) have finalized a rule adding an applicability date to the 2015 Clean Water Rule (the 2015 Rule). This rule provides clarity and certainty about which definition of “waters of the United States” is applicable nationwide in response to judicial actions that could result in confusion. The new applicability date will be two years after today’s action is published in the Federal Register, during which time both agencies will continue the process of reconsidering the 2015 Rule. “Today, EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of pr

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Up to $3 M in funding now available for locally-focused environmental education grants

EPA has recently announced that up to $3 million in funding for locally-focused environmental education grants will be available under the 2018 EE Local Grant Program.  EPA will award three to four grants in each of EPA’s ten Regions, for no less than $50,000 and no more than $100,000 each, for a total of 30-35 grants nationwide. Proposals are due March 15, 2018. The Requests for Proposals will be posted on www.grants.gov later this week. In addition to other environmental topics, the 2018 EE Local Grant Program includes support for projects that reflect the intersection of environmental issues and agricultural best-practices, conservation of natural resources, food waste management, and natural disaster preparedness. Funded projects will increase public awareness of those topics and help participants to develop the skills needed to make informed decisions. A Request for Proposals (also called a Solicitation Notice) cont

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Assistance Available to Agricultural Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program

Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018. While applications for CSP are accepted year-round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018, to be considered for this funding period. Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP al

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Perdue Announces USDA’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018 during a town hall at Reinford Farms in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. “Since my first day as the Secretary of Agriculture, I’ve traveled to 30 states, listening to the people of American agriculture about what is working and what is not. The conversations we had and the people we came across helped us craft USDA’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018,” said Secretary Perdue. “These principles will be used as a roadmap – they are our way of letting Congress know what we’ve heard from the hard-working men and women of American agriculture. While we understand it’s the legislature’s job to write the Farm Bill, USDA will be right there providing whatever counsel Congress may request or require.” USDA’s 2018 Farm Bill and Legislative Principles: FARM PRODUCTION & CONSERVATION Pro

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‘Benefits beyond the ranch’ 

Montana ranching family honored with Environmental Stewardship Award for enduring efforts to care for water, wildlife, soil and ranching business.   “I hope they slow down every once in a while,” Chuck Hahn says, nodding at the steady line of boaters, anglers and campers streaming north to Canyon Ferry Lake. He’s not talking about their speedometers, either. “I just see people so rushed,” he says. “If they’d just take the time to slow down, look, observe, take what they see here into consideration, they’d see: this all interacts together, and we’re all here to try and make things better.” While a 360-degree view of their Townsend, Montana ranch could probably flash through his mind in a millisecond of memories, the scope wouldn’t fit in a passenger window at 6

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USDA Investing Millions in Wildfire Mitigation and Water Quality Projects Through Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest nearly $32 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems in 24 states and Puerto Rico.  More than $690,000 of that funding will support the Capital 360 forestry project in Montana. Since 2013, USDA has invested $176 million in 56 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands. "Through Joint Chiefs, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with agricultural producers and forest landowners to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs, and the Forest Service enhances forest health on public lands -- stitching together a larger footprint of healthy ecosystems in priority areas," said Tom Hedt, NRCS acting state conservationist in Montana Along with mitigating fire risk, Joint Chiefs’ projects work to improve water quality b

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Tester announces “Trade Transparency and Public Input Act”

As trade representatives prepare for next week’s round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to provide Montanans a voice in the renegotiation of the nation’s largest trade agreement. Tester’s Trade Transparency and Public Input Act will force the U.S. Trade Representative to create an online public comment portal to ensure that Montanans can provide their input.  Montanans export nearly $600 million in products to Canada annually through NAFTA.  “Montanans whose livelihoods depend on this trade agreement should be able to provide their input throughout the entire process without having to jump through hoops and navigate red-tape,” Tester said.  “Every day Montana farmers and ranchers, small business owners, and manufacturers sell their goods across the Canadian border, and it is critically important that their voice is hea

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MSU Extension and MSGA announce 2017 Steer of Merit certifications

Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 127 “Steers of Merit” out of 1,120 entries for 2017. Out of 762 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 91 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 36 out of 358 entries received the distinction. The exhibitors and breeders of the top five steers in each category were honored at MSGA’s Annual Convention, Dec. 13-14 in Billings at the Northern Ag Network Lunch. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: 1) Tracy Pauley, Beaverhead County (Probst Livestock, breeder); 2) Sydney O’Neil, Hill County (Chad and Steph Murnin, breeder); 3) Walker Lee, Wheatland County (breeder unknown); 4) Joel Longie, Beaverhead County (Vanek Cattle, breeder); and 5) Hallie Massey, Flathead County (Mark Passmore, breeder). The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were: 1) Rowan Ellingson, Richland County (Gartner Denowh Angus Ranch, breeder); 2) Kaleb Flowers, Yellow

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MSU faculty seek to increase participation of women in agriculture with $94,000 USDA grant

Source: MSU Data from the U.S. Bureau of Statistics and United States Department of Agriculture show while women constitute less than 1 percent of the nation’s agricultural scientists, engineers, and policymakers, they occupy the majority, about 60 percent, of lower-paid agricultural jobs on America’s farms and ranches. Six female professors at Montana State University and Flathead Valley Community College hope to increase the percentage of women agricultural scientists, engineers and policymakers by way of a $94,000 USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant, “Empowering Women in Agriculture.” The grant is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s

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Off to a Good Start this Winter, Montana Snowpack Currently the Best in the Western U.S.

From NRCS: The snowpack across most of the western U.S. isn’t looking good in most states, but it’s a different story in the state of Montana, according to snowpack data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). After a hot and dry summer, snowfall began at the end of September in the Treasure State, helping to alleviate fire concerns and beginning the seasonal snowpack at high elevations. Many basins began the new 2018 water year (starting Oct. 1) with at least some snow on the ground at the higher elevations, and most basins had snow at all elevations by the beginning of November. Consistent snowfall statewide during November increased snowpack totals through the third week of the month before a warm and dry period near the holiday melted some low elevation snow and slowed mountain accumulation. The early December lull in snowfall lasted through the middle of t

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Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame to honor inductees at Induction Ceremony & Western Heritage Gathering in Great Falls, Feb. 3

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (MCHF & WHC) extends an invitation to all to attend the Annual MCHF Induction Ceremony & Western Heritage Gathering, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at the Best Western Heritage Inn in Great Falls. “We are excited to be celebrating our 12th anniversary of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame,” said MCHF & WHC President Jeff Bolstad. “We are honored to celebrate those who embody the qualities of our Montana communities and way of life.  If you are proud of your Montana Western heritage and wish to help preserve and pass it on to the next generation, we invite you to join us in Great Falls for this special event." The Inductee Recognition Ceremony Brunch will begin at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the notable accomplishments and lasting legacies of the inductees to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Tickets are $30 per person. Early registration is recommended as this event sells out well

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New WPS Requirements for pesticide applicators

Cecil Tharp (MSU Pesticide Education Specialist) Montana pesticide applicators and owners of agricultural establishments should pay special attention to new worker protection standard requirements as of January 2018. The US EPA published a revised Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) in 2015 to better protect agricultural workers from pesticide exposure. Revisions went into effect January 2, 2017; however, Montana pesticide applicators are reminded of a few revisions that recently went into effect January 1, 2018. The following paragraphs define the new 2018 requirements while providing additional WPS resources. Most of the revised WPS requirements became effective on January 2, 2017. Three

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MSU College of Agriculture hosts first ‘College of Ag Connects’ forum Jan. 15

The Montana State University College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station invite members of the agricultural community and the public to attend its first college-wide public forum, “College of Ag Connects” on Monday, Jan. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The forum is slated to engage with the Montana agricultural community on current and local issues by highlighting relevant, ongoing college programs and projects in agricultural teaching, research, and Extension. Faculty from each of the college’s five academic departments will present overviews of their teaching and research, followed by a question and answer session. MSU Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer will deliver opening and closing remarks. Tracy Dougher, associate dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture, said she hopes

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Montana Grazing Lands Education and Demonstration Project Funding Available

The Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) is accepting applications for mini-grants and demonstration projects. The mini-grants will provide funding for educational events throughout the year and support partners and organizations with an interest in the conservation, education, and awareness of grazing lands and natural resources in Montana. Limit mini-grant funding requests to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $1,000. There is no application deadline. Submissions will be considered year-round by the Montana GLCI steering committee. “The GLCI mini-grants and demonstration projects help organizations to both test and implement advanced resource solutions, as well as educate Montanans young and old about those advancements and the value of our grazing lands,” said Kirt Walstad, Montana GLCI co-coordinator. Demonstration project applications are due February 16, 2018. The current focus is on innovative projects addressing grazing management, soil and rangeland

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Regional Pesticide Education Trainings offered across Montana in 2018

Cecil Tharp (MSU Pesticide Education Specialist) The Montana State University Pesticide Education Program (PEP) is coordinating five regional private applicator initial certification trainings across Montana. These seven-hour training opportunities are designed for individuals desiring to learn more about pesticides, while simultaneously qualifying for a Montana private applicator license. A private applicator license allows individuals to apply restricted use pesticides on land they own, rent or lease. Training opportunities are available within Northern Cheyenne Reservation (Lame Deer) on January 17th, Blackfoot Reservation (Browning) on January 30th, Stillwater County (Columbus) on February 1st, Fort Bel

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State Beef Councils Extend Checkoff Campaign

A new generation of consumers is getting to know beef through the new beef checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. campaign, launched in October. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its introduction, the iconic brand has been refreshed, celebrating its reintroduction to a variety of today’s consumers, channel partners and food influencers. State beef councils are beginning to extend the campaign’s content and features, educating and exciting their states’ consumers about the many benefits beef provides to their lives. Of special interest to state councils has been the campaign’s “Rethink the Ranch” anthem video and related video spots, showcasing real, hard-working farmers and ranchers from around the country. Nationally, the videos have generated more than 765,000 video views to date, and reached more than 3.5 million consumers. State beef councils have downloaded various Rethink the Ranch content for use on their own social media properties and through other con

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Soil Health Workshops Across Montana in January

A series of soil health workshops aimed at helping Montana producers learn new strategies and techniques for improving soil health on their land will be held across the state January 16-19, 2018. Attendees will learn how to add biological inputs to their operations to increase yield, decrease chemical inputs, and improve the resilience and health of their soils. Practices such as no-till (including potato and beet rotations), intensive grazing, diverse rotations, cover crops, and more will be discussed in the context of actual working farms and ranches. The practice of improving soil health on farms and ranches is a movement that is sweeping across the nation. These workshops will introduce soil health principles for producers both large and small who are interested in improving the soil health on their land. The workshops will also talk about practical ways to implement soil health practices effectively, and how

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PLC Opens Application for the Nick Theos Scholarship Program

The Public Lands Council (PLC) today opened applications for the Nick Theos Scholarship Program, offering qualified college students a unique opportunity to attend the PLC 2018 Spring Legislative Conference April 10 - 12 in Washington, D.C. Selected scholarship recipients will join conference attendees as they meet with members of Congress, federal government agency officials, and leading policy influencers to communicate policy priorities of the public land ranching industry. Two Nick Theos scholarships are available for 2018. The scholarships include a $250 stipend, hotel accommodations, and complimentary conference registration. While PLC is unable to pay for travel in full, additional sponsorships to help cover travel costs are encouraged. Nick Theos, a founding member of PLC and lifetime supporter of the livestock industry, passed away on April 11th, 2013, at the age of 92. The scholarship was created by the Theos family to encourage the next generation to engage in the p

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MSGA applauds appointment of Montana ranchers to national board

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of 27 members to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. Two Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) members were among the appointees. Turk Stovall of Billings, Mont. and Katie Cooper of Willow Creek, Mont. will serve three-year terms on the Board. “We are thrilled to have Turk and Katie represent Montana on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board,” said Errol Rice Executive Vice President of MSGA, “They are proven leaders in Montana and will be excellent advocates for the Beef Checkoff at the national level.” Stovall and Cooper will be joining MSGA member, Lynda Grande of Columbus, Mont. who is currently serving a three-year term. The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board is composed of 99 members, all of whom are beef producers or importers of cattle, beef or beef products. The board is authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985.

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Montana Stockgrowers honor “Ranch Woman of the Year”

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently recognized Connie Townsend of White Sulphur Springs, Mont. as “Ranching Woman of the Year”. The announcement was made Wednesday, December 13 during the 133rd MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings. Connie (Niebel) Townsend grew up on the family farm and ranch in Four Corners. After attending school in Bozeman, she gra

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Montana Ford Stores and Montana Stockgrowers Association give away Ford Super Duty pickup

Keith Bales was the lucky winner of a 2017 Ford Super Duty pickup given away by Montana Ford Stores and Montana Stockgrowers Association at the 133rd Annual MSGA Convention and Trade Show. Keith and his wife, Christl, ranch near Otter, Mont. and have been long-time members of the association.  Each year Montana Ford Stores donates a new Ford pickup to be given away to one lucky MSGA member attending the Annual Convention and Trade Show. This year, Congressman Greg Gianforte was on hand to draw the winning ticket! “The winning partnership with Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Ford Stores continues to grow and prosper,” according to MSGA President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon. “We can’t thank the Montana Ford Stores enough for their continued support.” 2017 was the ninth

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USDA Seeks Applications for $10 Million in Conservation Innovation Grants

Funding is available in three focus areas, including grazing lands, organic systems and soil health BOZEMAN, Mont., Dec. 18, 2017 – USDA is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS ) plans to invest $10 million in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, organic systems and soil health. Grant proposals are due Feb. 26, 2018. "Conservation Innovation Grants play a critical role in developing and implementing new methods to help our customers across the country and here in Montana conserve natural resources, strengthen their local communities, and improve their bottom lines," said Tom Hedt, NRCS state conservationist in Montana. "Today's announcement supports our efforts to help producers build economically-strong and resilient farms and ranches by providing producers tools to ut

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‘Benefits beyond the ranch’

Townsend ranching family honored with 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award for influential results in caring for water, wildlife, soil and ranching business.   The Hahn Ranch was honored as the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award winners Dec. 13 at the Montana Stockgrowers’ Annual Convention in Billings. The award recognizes cattle ranchers who are exemplary stewards of the land, livestock, wildlife and natural resources. The family has been ranching in the Missouri River Valley near Townsend for more than 100 years, working to preserve and enhance their natural resources for generations to come. Chuck Hahn, Dusty Hahn and Cory and Jennilee Bird accepted the award on behalf of the family ranch. The ranch was nominated for the award by collaborators with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) for their partnership on projects that have benefited fisheries and water quality on the ranch and for downstream users. But their conservation practices expan

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MSU Extension offers farm management workshops

BOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension will offer farm management workshops in five communities, including Lewiston, Ronan, Choteau, Great Falls and Glasgow, from January to March 2018. MSU Extension will offer farm management workshops in five communities, including Lewiston, Ronan, Choteau, Great Falls and Glasgow, from January to March 2018. Extension economists George Haynes, Kate Fuller and

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Sec. Perdue: U.S. Farm Exports Hit 3rd Highest Level on Record

Climb Eight Percent in FY 2017 to $140.5 Billion U.S. agricultural exports totaled $140.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017, climbing nearly $10.9 billion from the previous year to the third-highest level on record, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today. As it has done for well over 50 years, the U.S. agricultural sector once again posted an annual trade surplus, which reached $21.3 billion, up almost 30 percent from last year’s $16.6 billion. “U.S. agriculture depends on trade. It is great to see an increase in exports and we hope to open additional markets to build on this success,” Perdue said.  “I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy.  If American agricultural producers keep growing it, USDA will keep helping to sell it around the world.” China finished the fiscal year as the United States’ large

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Cattlemen Respond to National Monument Reductions

"Egregious Example of Federal Overreach Corrected in Win for Rural Communities" The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council applauded the White House’s plan to reduce the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The decision – which follows an extensive review of monument designations by the Department of Interior – is a clear win for rural communities who have suffered the consequences of egregious federal overreach. “Previous administrations abused the power of the Antiquities Act, designating huge swaths of land as national monuments without any public input or review,” said Dave Eliason, president of the Public Lands Council. “Rural communities in Utah and across the West have paid the price. Sweeping designations locked up millions of acres of land with the stroke of a pen, undermining local knowledge and decimating rural economies.” The President’s decision means that traditional uses of the land, including livestock graz

USDA Publishes School Meals Rule, Expands Options, Eases Challenges

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today provided local food service professionals the flexibility they need to serve wholesome, nutritious, and tasty meals in schools across the nation. The new School Meal Flexibility Rule, published today, makes targeted changes to standards for meals provided under USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and asks customers to share their thoughts on those changes with the Department. U.S. Se

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