MSGA News

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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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USDA Helps Rural Communities Restore Water Systems Damaged by Disasters

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2017 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the award of two grants to help rural water and sewer utilities recover from recent and future natural disasters. “USDA is a strong partner in the long-term recovery of rural communities after a season of devastating hurricanes,” Perdue said. “These grants will provide resources rural communities need to assess damage, develop rebuilding plans and get access to technical assistance and clean water. USDA is standing with these affected communities every step of the way.” USDA is awarding the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) and the Rural Communities Assistance Partnership (RCAP) each a $500,000 grant. The funding is being provided through the 

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

Climb Eight Percent in FY 2017 to $140.5 Billion WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2017 – 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’ largest export customer, with shipments valued at $22 billion, followed closely by

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Cattlemen: House-Passed Tax Bill “Step in the Right Direction”

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and fourth-generation Nebraska cattle producer, today released the following statement in response to U.S. House approval of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: “House approval of this comprehensive tax-reform legislation is a step in the right direction, but we will continue to work hard to make sure that final legislation doesn’t include provisions that would create undue and unfair burdens for certain segments of our industry. “Specifically, this bill would immediately double the death-tax exemption and put the tax on the path to extinction in five years. That’s a major victory for family ranchers and cattle producers. The bill also fully preserves the step-up in basis, allows businesses to immediately and fully expense the cost of new investments, increases Section 179 small-business expensing limits, and expands cash accounting. These are all victories for cattle producers. “Unfortunately, the House-passed

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NRCS Accepts Applications for Water Quality Projects in Camp, Godfrey Creek Watershed

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering funding through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to farmers and ranchers in the Camp and Godfrey Creeks watershed in Gallatin County to reduce sediment and agricultural related nutrient loads and E.coli and improve riparian function. While NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis, NRCS has set a deadline of Dec. 15, 2017, to apply for funding.   The Camp and Godfrey Creek watershed received special funding last year as part of the National Water Quality Initiative, which targets funding in watersheds to improve water quality. Both Camp and Godfrey Creeks were listed in the “Impaired Waters” category within the Montana Department of Environmental Quality 2014 Water Quality Integrated Report for excessive sediment and agricultural related nutrients loads.   With the help of partners at the local level, NRCS identified priority watersheds within states where on-farm conserv

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Montana FSA: USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that starting Nov. 1, 2017, farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The enrollment period will end on Aug. 1, 2018. “Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Steve Peterson. “I encourage producers to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll.” The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previou

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Montana Stockgrowers Association secures $300 million agreement for Montana beef

(Nov 8) - The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Cross Four Ranch, and Chinese eCommerce retailer JD.com, today, signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to facilitate collaboration on Montana sourced beef to China as well as the potential investment in Montana. This agreement transpired following Daines’ agricultural roundtable where Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Chinese business representatives, and Montana agricultural leaders discussed potential opportunities for expanding Montana beef exports. “While there are details to be finalized, this MOA represents a great step in the right direction for Montana ranchers and the state of Montana,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of MSGA. “The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks, Sen. Daines for his work on expanding opportunities and access to overseas markets for Montana ranchers, particularly in lifting t

Beef councils gather to discuss Beef Checkoff Program

Representatives of 28 state beef councils gathered near Denver Oct. 16 to 18 to learn more about national 2018 Beef Checkoff Program efforts and share their thoughts on how those programs could be expanded or extended through their states. The Partnerships in Action Conference in the offices of the NCBA, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The checkoff 2018 fiscal year began Oct. 1. Among items of discussion was the relaunch of the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” brand and website, with a “Rethink the Ranch” approach and new videos and promotion on social media platforms. The program went live Oct. 9 and showcases the people who raise beef, celebrates the nutritional benefits of beef for active lifestyles and provides culinary inspiration. “This annual Federation of State Beef Councils event is a collaborative effort to kick off the checkoff program of work with enthusiasm,” according to Todd Johnson, NCBA senior vice president, Federation Services. “Our state team members

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Montana FSA: USDA issues safety-net payments to Montana farmers

USDA Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director (SED) Amy Webbink announced that approximately 19,010 Montana farms that enrolled in safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill will receive financial assistance for the 2016 crop year. The programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are designed to protect against unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues due to market downturns. “These safety-net programs provide help when price and revenue fall below normal,” said Acting SED Webbink. “Payments to barley, canola, corn, lentils, oats, dry peas, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat producers are helping provide reassurance to our Montana farm families who are standing strong against low commodity prices compounded by unfavorable growing conditions.” Producers in 55 Montana counties have experienced a significant drop in prices or revenues below the benchmark established by the ARC or PLC program and thus, will re

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Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to host fire and drought seminar

Producers to discuss challenges and options following fire and drought Montana Stockgrowers Foundation has joined with the Southeast Montana Livestock Association and the MSU Extension Service to provide a premier program to help livestock producers navigate management challenges following a devastating fire and drought season. Experts from around the country will address issues including how to manage the tax ramifications of drought influenced decisions, insurance, and risk management tools to assist in managing future risk. The program will begin at 1:00 pm, November 15 at the Range Riders Museum in Miles City, Montana. This event is free to the public. For additional information, please contact the MSGA office at 406.442.3420.   Speakers: Amy Iverson is a CPA in the Billings

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New Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Campaign Celebrates Consumers’ Love for Beef and the People Who Raise It

Twenty-five years after establishing one of the nation’s most iconic food brands, America’s beef farmers and ranchers are leveraging the strong equity of Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. to reintroduce the brand to a new generation of consumers. The relaunch will blend the strongest assets from the long-loved brand – such as the famous Aaron Copland “Rodeo” music and the famous tagline – and couple those with new creative assets. In total, the effort showcases the pleasure that beef brings to meals, the people who raise it and the nutritional benefits (such as protein) that beef provides. “Consumers love beef, and as with all foods, today’s consumers want the whole story about the beef they buy.” said Alisa Harrison, senior vice president, Global Marketing and Research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff, which funds the campaign. “Our research shows that the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand is still extremely popular among con

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Record Keeping and Culling Strategies

By Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist It’s that time of year again, the leaves are beginning to change, the weather is cooler, and weaning is happening across Montana.  Not only is this a stressful time of year for the calves, but also for producers.  Critical decisions are being made in herds to prepare for the future and the hardest part is making that cull list.  However, a cull list shouldn’t be made without first discussing and analyzing records. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records is essential to making decisions for your herd.  These records become even more important during the weaning season as calves and cows are marketed.  Examples of records sheets can be found on the MSU Beef Cattle Extension Website at http://animalrangeextension.montana.edu/beef/records.html.  The records available pertain to beef cattle production, grazing, hay, treatment, supplementation, etc.  They are made to fit in a three-ring binder.  Keeping written and/or electronic r

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Montana Beef Council Wants to Invest $860,000 in Programs

The Montana Beef Council would like to invest $860,000 into programs of beef promotion, education, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications in the fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1. Programs approved could be funded through Montana’s 50 cents in-state portion of the $1 per head beef checkoff, after Montana producers provide affirmative consent to Montana Beef Council to retain that portion of their assessment. In action concluding its Sept. 20-22 meeting in Billings, the MBC Board of Directors—all Montana volunteers, including members from nearly all segments of the beef supply chain—approved checkoff funding for a total of 26 demand-building and producer communication project funding requests for checkoff fund

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MONTANA STOCKGROWERS SEEKING APPLICANTS FOR LEADERSHIP SERIES

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is excited to announce the third year of a leadership program for young leaders in the ranching industry. The Stockgrowers Leadership Series is designed to provide training and skills to future leaders of Montana’s ranching communities. The 16-month class kicks off in January 2018 in Helena. Applications are due November 20. “We are excited to continue and expand the Leadership Series,” says Errol Rice, MSGA Executive Vice President. “Investing in leadership is a core strategy of MSGA’s long-range plan and our industry’s success will rely on our ability to develop a pipeline of leaders who are disciplined, well trained and inspired by the future of ranching.” The Leadership Series is a 16-month program where participants will take part in a number of workshops and sessions exposing them to different aspects of the ranching business today. These topics include policy work, banking and finance, management, business relationships, awarenes

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Applications Now Open for Ten $1,500 CME Beef Industry Scholarship

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for 2018-2019 beef industry scholarships sponsored by CME Group and administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF). Ten scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded to outstanding students pursuing careers in the beef industry, and one student—the overall essay winner—will receive a trip to the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix, Ariz. “The CME Beef Industry Scholarship represents an investment in the future of the cattle industry, and is an outgrowth of nearly three decades of partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and NCBA,” said Tim Andriesen, managing director of agricultural products for CME Group. “By helping the next generation of cattlemen and women further their education, CME Group is helping to advance the future of the U.S. agricultural economy. Participating in this scholarship enables us to further underscore the importance of risk management to the b

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Rancher to Congress: “Japan and Asia-Pacific Markets Vital for U.S. Beef”

Today Kelley Sullivan, NCBA member and rancher from Santa Rosa Ranch in Crockett, Texas, testified at a hearing on Capitol Hill about the importance of expanding export opportunities for U.S. beef in Asia. Held by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, the hearing asked witnesses for their perspectives on specific actions needed to deepen trade relationships with fast-growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Ms. Sullivan’s remarks focused on the benefits of trade agreements for U.S. beef producers. She urged Congress and the Administration to protect current agreements, such as the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and move quickly to strike a bilateral deal with Japan. “Today, the success or failure of the U.S. beef industry depends on our level of access to global consumers,” she said. “We are extremely concerned that prolonged NAFTA negotiations and withdrawal/modifications to KORUS will pose unnecessary setbacks for the U.S. beef industry. Our ardent desire

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Montana FSA: Low interest emergency physical loss loans available for two counties

BOZEMAN, Mont. – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Steven J. Peterson announced that physical loss loans are available for two counties in Montana. Farm operators who have suffered major physical losses caused by multiple wildfires that occurred on July 15, 2017, and continuing, may be eligible for emergency loans. This Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification has been issued for Mineral and Missoula counties as the primary damaged area. Additionally, six Montana counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for programs based on this designation. The contiguous counties are: Flathead, Granite, Lake, Powell, Ravalli and Sanders. Producers in Clearwater, Idaho and Shoshone counties in Idaho are also eligible because they are contiguous counties. FSA’s low interest emergency loans may be made available to any applicant with a qualifying loss in the counties named

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Montana Beef Council provides many benefits

Written by Kristin Larson My last couple articles were about the timeline and planning process of the $.50 of the dollar checkoff that goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for national contractors to contract for beef promotion, education, research and producer communication.   The other $.50 for many states stays in the state it was collected in with their qualified state beef council. Montana is one of these states. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana Beef industry. It is one of 45 state beef councils. A 12-member board of directors guides the Montana Beef

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USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments

Total Exceeds $9.6 Billion Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that over $9.6 billion in payments will be made, beginning this week, to producers through the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve (CRP) programs.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing approximately $8 billion in payments under the ARC and PLC programs for the 2016 crop year, and $1.6 billion under CRP for 2017. “Many of these payments will be made to landowners and producers in rural communities that have recently been ravaged by drought, wildfires, and deadly hurricanes,” Perdue said.  “I am hopeful this financial assistance will help those experiencing losses with immediate cash flow needs as we head toward the end of the year.” The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in rev

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DNRC cuts interest rate on rangeland improvement loans

HELENA, Mont. – Montana ranchers considering rangeland improvement projects received a boost this month when the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) reduced interest rates for Rangeland Improvement Loans from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.     “It’s been a challenging summer for our farmers and ranchers,” said Stacey Barta, Rangeland Resources Program Coordinator with the Montana Department of Natural Resourc

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Senate Confirms Censky and McKinney for USDA

By  Jerry Hagstrom, DTN Political Correspondent The Senate late Tuesday confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominations of Stephen Censky as Agriculture deputy secretary and Ted McKinney as Agriculture undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. Censky has been the CEO of American Soybean Association in St. Louis and McKinney has been the Indiana agriculture director. Until now Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been the only Senate-confirmed political appointee at the Agriculture Department, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in a news release he was pleased to provide Perdue some help. “I am pleased that the U.S. Senate was able to work in a bipartisan and swift manner to confirm Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney,” Robe

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Nitrate Toxicity in Beef Cattle

Written by Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Montana State University Elevated nitrate concentrations can be found in forages that have been grown under stress, such as severe drought conditions.  Nitrate toxicity is caused by animal consuming feeds and water that have elevated levels of nitrate or nitrite.  Care should be taken when feeding cattle cereal grains/hay, corn stalks, orchardgrass, and other feeds known to contain high nitrate levels. Nitrate is not toxic to animals unless consumed in excessive levels.  When nitrate is consumed in excessive levels, nitrite poisoning can occur.  Normally, forage nitrate is broken down in the rumen to nitrite by microbes, and then to ammonia.  The ammonia is used by rumen microbes for protein.  However, when nitrate is consumed in elevated levels, nitrite accumulates within the rumen faster than it can be converted to ammonia.  The nitrite then enters the small intestine and is absorbed into the bloodstream.  Th

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Outcome Based Grazing Allows Flexible Livestock Management on Public Land

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has launched a demonstration program allowing stakeholders in the grazing community an opportunity to achieve rangeland health goals on public land while allowing greater flexibility in livestock management decisions. The program focuses on responsive outcome based grazing on public lands. Six to twelve “Outcome-Based Grazing Authorizations” will be identified by the BLM in the first twelve months, and the selected permittees will participate in the demonstration program. Participants will actively implement a responsive grazing management plan to achieve habitat and vegetation goals on public land. The program will examine the effectiveness of a more flexible approach to livestock grazing on public land. “Previously, ranchers have been held to a process and prescription method that tells them how to manage their land,” said Dave Eliason, Utah rancher and president of the Public Lands Council (PLC). “It’s

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MSU to host annual Celebrate Agriculture event Nov. 3-4

The Montana State University College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station will host its 18th annual Celebrate Agriculture event, set for Nov. 3-4 on the MSU campus. The event is held in honor of the state and university’s joint agricultural legacy and in celebration of current students, agriculture alumni, and MSU’s extended agricultural community across Montana. MSU Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer said the event is a longstanding tradition at the university. “Each year, we look forward to the weekend in November that’s dedicated to celebrating our university’s agricultural roots alongside a large portion of Montana’s agricultural community,” Boyer said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity

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Public Lands Stewards Recognized by BLM at PLC Meeting

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced three 2017 Rangeland Stewardship Award recipients at the Public Lands Council (PLC) Annual Meeting in Flagstaff, Ariz. Recipients included Utah rancher, Bill Kennedy, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and The Stewardship Alliance of Northeastern Elko County. “Public lands ranchers plan their operation around sustaining a healthy, diverse and productive rangeland,” said Dave Eliason, Utah rancher and president of the Public Lands Council. “They invest time, money and resources into the process and it’s exciting to see some of these phenomenal ranchers recognized for their efforts.” Kennedy, the recipient of The Rangeland Stewardship Permittee Award, runs an operation on a combination of federal, private, and state land located southeast of Bear Lake, Utah. Kennedy was recognized for his leadership in livestock management and advocating for proper grazing on public lands. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association received The Rangelan

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Secretary Perdue Hosts U.S. Senators for 2017 Fire Briefing

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue hosted U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) today at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for a 2017 fire briefing to hear about this year’s efforts to contain wildfires out west as well as the way the USFS is funded. Currently, the agency has to borrow money from prevention programs to combat ongoing wildfires. Secretary Perdue believes Congress should treat major fires the same as other disasters and that those fires should be covered by emergency funds so prevention programs are not raided. “This has been a tremendous fire season,” said Secretary Perdue. “As wildfire costs exceed $2 billion, I appreciate those in Congress who recognize this funding issue and are working to make a permanent fix that allows us to manage our forests preemptively. While we can’t stop these

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USDA Makes Disaster Resources Available to Rural Development Borrowers

Source: USDA The United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development is providing tools and resources to help rural communities recover from the devastation brought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue highlighted today. The emergency procedures will provide additional flexibility for Rural Development borrowers and community partners to help them recover as quickly as possible and ensure they have what they need to rebuild their homes, businesses, and communities. “Our team at Rural Development is devoted to supporting rural communities ravaged by the recent hurricanes,” said Secretary Perdue. “We are committed each day to the recovery effort, collaborating with federal, state and local partners to begin to rebuild.” USDA Rural Development has provided disaster recovery assistance by coordinating with private partners to restore utilities to rural communities in hurricane-affected regions. Rural Development is helping businesses and util

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moving cattle montana pasture

U.S. Beef Exports Stay Red-hot in July

U.S. beef exports remained well above last year’s pace in July, posting one of the highest monthly export value totals on record, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). July pork export volume dipped below its year-ago level for the first time in 15 months, with export value also down slightly. July beef exports totaled 104,488 metric tons (mt), up 5 percent year-over-year, while export value reached $623.7 million – up 18 percent from a year ago and the highest since December 2014. For January through July, exports increased 11 percent in volume (711,364 mt) and 15 percent in value ($3.97 billion) compared to the first seven months of last year. Exports accounted for 13.2 percent of total U.S. beef production in July and 10.7 percent for muscle cuts only. These were the highest ratios of 2017, but down from 14.2 percent and 11 percent, respectively, last July. For January through July, beef exports accounted for 12.8 per

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How to handle donated hay

Written by Tim Fine, Extension Agent Growing up, I heard the expression “you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” on more than one occasion and I try to abide by those words of wisdom.  For those of you not familiar with the term, in a round-about way, it means that if someone is willing to give you something, be gracious and accept it. I usually try to abide by this principle and it is generally a good principle to adopt, but there are those times that, even though the giver may have the best of intentions, the gift may be more than you bargained for. Case in point is all of the hay that is being shipped into our state from more-than-generous people from all over the country. We all know that this is much needed and greatly appreciated but what is potentially coming with t

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Forest Service Wildland Fire Suppression Costs Exceed $2 Billion

Secretary Perdue Renews Call for Congress to Fix “Fire Borrowing” Problem U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that wildland fire suppression costs for the fiscal year have exceeded $2 billion, making 2017 the most expensive year on record.  Wildfires have ravaged states in the west, Pacific Northwest, and Northern Rockies regions of the United States this summer.  As the Forest Service passed the $2 billion milestone, Perdue renewed his call for Congress to fix the way the agency’s fire suppres

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Montana to cut programs and services amid budget shortfall

Source: DTN HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Montana plans to cut programs and services to fill a projected $227 million budget shortfall in the midst of a disastrous drought and dozens of wildfires that are draining the state treasury. More than 90 percent of Montana is in drought, creating tinderbox conditions that have led to its worst fire year since 2012. The state has spent more than $50 million on fire suppression since June — not counting the U.S. government costs to respond to fires on federal lands — and the blazes are likely to burn well into the fall, driving up those costs. Montana has already exhausted its wildfire suppression reserve account and other emergency funds. Tax collections are below the estimates set in the state budget, adding to the financial strain.

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Strong First Half for U.S. Red Meat Exports

U.S. beef exports continued to trend above year-ago levels in June, capping a very strong first half of the year. Exports also achieved higher values on a per-head-slaughtered basis and accounted for a steady-to-higher percentage of total production. June beef exports were the largest of 2017, reaching 241.5 million pounds – up 11 percent year-over-year and the largest June total since 2011. Export value increased 10 percent to $602.5 million. For January through June, beef exports were up 12 percent in volume (1.3 billion pounds) and 15 percent in value ($3.35 billion) compared to the first half of last year. Exports accounted for nearly 13 percent of total U.S. beef production in June and 10 percent for muscle cuts only – each about even with a year ago. The ratios were the same for January through June, which was also steady with the first half of last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $264.51 in June, up 6 percent from a year ago. Through June, per-head ex

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Cattlemen Launch Monthlong Media Campaign for Comprehensive Tax Reform

NCBA Launches new website: CattlemenForTaxReform.com The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today kicked off a media and advertising campaign that will shine a spotlight on how various federal tax provisions impact America’s cattle and beef producers. The campaign, which will focus heavily on the death tax, aims to build support in Washington for comprehensive tax reform that makes our tax code fair for agricultural producers. The campaign will be centered around a new website,CattlemenForTaxReform.com, and wi

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Montana Running Ranchers Complete 190-mile Relay

190 miles. 29 hours 46 minutes. 12 runners. Two vans. One long night. Those were the makings of a fun, even if exhausting, weekend for the Montana Running Ranchers. The group, consisting of ranching community members from Montana and surrounding states, recently competed at the Ragnar Relay Colorado and finished competitively among teams from across the region. The Running Ranchers take part in a Ragnar Relay event each year to showcase beef and ranching to running communities who often have questions about agriculture, beef, and many who may have never met a rancher. Of course, the relay events are great fun with runners of all skill levels from many states across the country. This year’s Ragnar Relay Colorado took place high in the Rocky Mountains. The start line festivities took place at Copper M

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Secretary Perdue Announces USDA Improvements for Customer Service & Efficiency

Source: USDA Please click here to watch a video message Secretary Perdue sent to USDA staff Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the realignment of a number of offices within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to improve customer service and maximize efficiency.  The actions involve innovation, consolidation, and the rearrangement of certain offices into more logical organizational reporting structures.  The changes build on the

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30 Eastern Montana farmers and ranchers to get $2.5 million to offset damage from wildfire

from the Helena Independent Record: About 30 Montana farmers and ranchers whose property was destroyed by wildfires will get $2.5 million in federal assistance to help rebuild. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sent a press release Friday announcing the money, which is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentive Program. “After our relentless persistence, Montana farmers will begin to see some relief from what has been a historically difficult summer,” Tester said in the release. “This is the first wave of meaningful resources that will help producers rebuild after horrifi

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Montana Department of Ag Expands Hay Lottery

Helena, Mont. – The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced the expansion of the Montana Hay Lottery. MDA is partnering with Miles Community College to house the donated hay and help with logistics and the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to help coordinate cash donations to be used for transportation costs. The lottery will be administered by MDA, with drawings taking place in early October. Producers who have already applied for the lottery, but were not chosen in the first drawing, will still be eligible for subsequent drawings. "The outpouring of support for Montana's ag community has been nothing short of amazing. We saw a need to help coordinate donations, so we decided to expand the lottery," said MDA Director Ben Thomas. "We are grateful to MCC and the Stockgrowers for partnering with us to get these resources to those affected by fires and drought." Those interes

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Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Tax Reform Agenda

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today reiterated his strong support for President Trump’s tax reform agenda, as the president outlined today in North Dakota.  Perdue issued the following statement: “Farming is a complicated operation, so to place more burdens on the people of agriculture through the tax code has never made any sense.  Most agricultural enterprises are small businesses, and the costs and time required simply to comply with the tax code are impediments to what these folks really ought to be doing, and that’s growing and producing food to feed the United States and the world. “It’s an old, not-so-funny joke that farmers live poor and die rich, because of the value of the land they own.  It isn’t right that a family’s hard work will be punished by the Death Tax, through which many farms have to be broken up or sold off just to pay the tax bill.  I urge Congress to take up the tax reform agenda to give American agriculture the best chance to succeed.  That

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After the flames: How fire affects soil nutrients

By Clain Joines, MSU Extension Soil Fertility Specialist Hundreds of thousands of acres of forest, rangeland and cropland have sadly gone up in smoke this summer in Montana. In addition to the devastating effect on personal property and direct loss of crops and livestock, fire can affect soil properties and soil nutrients. The impact is highly dependent on the fire intensity/duration and the proportion of plant material that is burned. Timber and shrubs will burn hotter and longer with greater impact on soil than range- or crop land. Fast moving grass fires have minimal impact on soil nutrients and soil health compared to slow moving, intense fires in moderate to heavy fuels. In general, fires reduce the pool of nutrients stored in organic matter, release a flus

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Low Stress Livestock Handling Workshops in Western Montana

Low Stress Livestock Handling Workshops feat. Curt Pate to be held in Western Montana  This is a field-based workshop that will occur in three locations in western Montana. Curt Pate is a renowned stockman who has been leading stockmanship and safety demonstrations, workshops, and clinics for over a decade. The workshop will focus on livestock handling methods that reduce cattle stress, making for safer and more effective cattle movement. Low stress, efficient stock movement can help improve soil health under improved grazing strategies, while also producing a high quality finished product, a win-win!   More details on this workshop and registration is on the Missoula Conservation District website: htt

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Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Tax Reform Agenda

(Washington, DC, August 30, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today expressed his strong support for President Trump’s tax reform agenda as a great benefit to the American agriculture community. Perdue issued the following statement: “Just as he has done with excessive and costly regulations, President Trump has focused on the problem of onerous and burdensome taxes. Most agricultural operations are, in fact, small businesses, and the time and costs associated with merely complying with the tax code are impeding American prosperity. Farming is a complex enterprise, as even the smallest operations know, so the attention and financial resources that are diverted to handling taxes are an extra barrier to success. “People should be able to keep more of what they have earned through the sweat of their brows, which will also invigorate the entire United States economy. The Death Tax is one section of the code that is particularly offensive to agriculture, as too many f

2017 Pest Management Tour offers Last Chance Credit Opportunities for Private Pesticide Applicators across Southcentral Montana.

from: Cecil Tharp (MSU Pesticide Education Specialist) The Montana State University (MSU) Pesticide Education Program is offering the Pest Management Tour for pesticide applicators across southcentral Montana, Private Applicator Training (PAT) District 5, from October 2nd – 6th (Figure 1). Private applicators within PAT district 5 should ensure they have attained 6 private applicator credits prior to the January 1st, 2018 deadline to avoid losing their private certification. Applicators can assess their credit information at https://mtplants.mt.gov/ by selecting “pesticide programs” and “pesticide license search” prior to entering their license number. Applicators can also contact their MSU Extension cou

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Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture Conference Coming to Billings

Make plans now to attend the annual Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture Conference at the DoubleTree Hotel in Billings, Mont., Sept. 26-28, 2017. This year’s conference is packed with speakers that will deliver information on today’s most pressing topics:  farm safety and disaster preparedness, increasing profitability, women in ag business, self-defense, and media outreach. Featured speaker Bob Budd, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, will discuss mentorship during his talk, Stolon or Seed: How will you Grow? Sisters on the Fly, the largest outdoor women’s group in the United States, will tell the story of how they got started and how they have grown. They will have a parking lot party following the presentation. Closing speaker will be Rebecca Undem, a dynamic speaker and author who will show participants how to get their groove back. Registration for the conference is $70 prior to Sept. 1 and $90 after that date. Registration inf

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Agriculture Secretary Perdue Details Response to Recent Wildfires

Forests and Grasslands in Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies Affected U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today outlined the U.S. Forest Service’s assets and responses to a recent outbreak of extreme wildfires over large parts of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies.  The fires, affecting forests and grasslands, are burning across Western Montana, Idaho, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. “Our courageous USFS firefighters do an outstanding job and are able to catch 98 percent of all fires before they become large fires,” Perdue said.  “To help them, we will make sure firefighters have all the necessary tools at their disposal in order to save lives, property, and our forests.  We will also work hand-in-hand with our federal partners, particularly the Department of Interior, during this aggressive fire season.” Many different types of equipment and firefighting resources are available to fire ma

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Half a Million Acres Burned in Montana, Cattle Losses Limited

From Drovers: In Montana almost a half million acres have burned this summer, with more than half of the acreage coming from one wildfire. Fortunately, cattle losses have been limited according to officials with the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 29 wildfires are currently active in Montana with the bulk of them occurring in the western region of the state, which is predominately forested public land and has fewer cattle. In all there have been 494,526 acres burned by wildfires in the Big Sky State. The largest fire is the Lodgepole Complex fire in the eastern portion of the state. It is currently at 93% containment and has burned 270,723 acres. Most of the fire in the Lodgepole Complex ar

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Drought disaster increased to 31 counties, 6 reservations

From the Great Falls Tribune: Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order on Friday declaring 31 counties and six Indian Reservations are in drought disaster. The counties are: Blaine, Big Horn, Carter, Chouteau, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Garfield, Golden Valley, Hill, Judith Basin, Lake, Lincoln, McCone, Musselshell, Petroleum, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sanders, Sheridan, Treasure, Valley, Yellowstone, Wheatland and Wibaux. Also included are the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, Crow Indian Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and the Flathead Indian Reservation. On July 19, Bullock declared a drought disaster

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2017 Cattle Slaughter Up, but Increasing Slower than Last Year

Total cattle slaughter is up 5.9 percent year over year for the year to date.  This follows a 6.4 percent year over year increase in 2016.  However, steer slaughter (which makes up more than half of cattle slaughter) is growing more slowly in 2017 and is up 3.5 percent so far this year compared to 2016.  The year to date increase is declining as weekly steer slaughter has averaged just 1.1 percent year over year increases since late April. Steer slaughter peaked seasonally in June and will trend lower week to week for the remainder of the year. On July 1, the number of steers in feedlots was 1.4 percent above last year and is projected to keep steer slaughter growth relatively low for the remainder of the year.  Total annual steer slaughter may be limited to less than a two percent year over year increase in 2017. Heifer slaughter is up 10.5 percent so far in 2017.  This compares to a 4.7 percent year over year increase in 2016.  The July

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HAY LOTTERY WILL EXPAND INTO MONTANA, SOUTH DAKOTA

North Dakota’s hay lottery will expand to include Montana and South Dakota, with each state to conduct its own drawing beginning in early September. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring credited Ag Community Relief, a Michigan organization, and North Dakota State University for making the relief effort possible. “We are pleased to open the hay lottery to producers in South Dakota and Montana experiencing drought and wildfire,” Goehring said. “Ag Community Relief, the Michigan organization arranging a large-scale hay donation convoy to North Dakota in mid-August, is fundraising and continues to seek donations and volunteers. We are so appreciative of their efforts. We are also grateful to NDSU for providing the space and staffing to store and distribute the donate

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USDA and SCORE Launch Innovative Mentorship Effort to Support New Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. Today’s agreement provides new help resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans and others, providing new tools to help them both grow and thrive in agri-business. “Shepherding one generation to the next is our responsibility. We want to help new farmers, veterans, and people transitioning from other industries to agriculture,” said Secretary Perdue. “They need land, equipment, and access to capital, but they also need advice and guidance. That's what SCORE is all about.” SCORE matches business professionals and entrepreneurs with new business owners to mentor them through the process of starting-up and maintaining a new business. USDA and its partners across rural America are working with SCORE to support new farming and ranchin

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Montana Fire Relief: Updated Ways to Help

The Lodgepole Complex Fire is now at 93% containment. Firefighters will continue fire repairs and mop-up. Command of the fire has been turned over to a local Type 3 organization. Sixteen homes have been destroyed as well as an unspecified but significant amount of fencing and haystacks. Numerous secondary structures have also been destroyed. McCone Electric has lost over 120 power poles. An additional 16 structures not included above were identified via satellite imagery as destroyed but type of use has not yet been determined. There are currently 26 active fires in the state of Montana. The Montana Stockgrowers Found

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Secretary Perdue Appoints New Leadership for Food Safety

(Washington, D.C., August 1, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today made two key appointments to help fulfill the vital mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply. Perdue announced that Carmen Rottenberg was selected as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and Paul Kiecker was named Acting Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The two will serve in those capacities until presidential nominees are confirmed by the Senate for those roles. In making the announcements, Secretary Perdue issued this statement: “Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is our most important responsibility, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness.  Both Carmen and Paul have dedicated their careers to the mission of food safety and I am pleased to have appointed them to these important roles within the USDA,” said Secretary Perdue. “I c

conservation applications

NRCS Offers Wildfire Recovery Assistance to Ag Producers in Montana

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering technical and financial assistance to agricultural landowners impacted by 2017 wildfires across Montana. NRCS is accepting applications for its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to assist with livestock grazing deferment, damaged fence and post removal, livestock fencing, water facility development, critical area plantings, and cover crops. NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for 2017 wildfire recovery funding must be submitted by Aug. 15, 2017. “NRCS in Montana is prepared to assist landowners in dealing with the effects of wildfires and dry weather conditions,” said Lisa Coverdale, NRCS state conservationist for Montana. “We want to work with landowners to help them address fire related resource concerns on their farm or ranch operations.” Hi

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Agriculture Fire & Drought Assistance Hotline

As drought conditions worsen and fires burn throughout the state, the Montana Department of Agriculture has launched the Agriculture Fire and Drought Assistance Hotline. The hotline will serve as a tool to help connect those affected to available resources, programs and donations, as well as to provide information on how others can help. Questions related to hay/feed donations, livestock, fencing, and transportation can be directed to the hotline. The hotline number is 1-844-515-1571 and will be staffed 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. “Montana’s agriculture industry has been disproportionately impacted by disasters this year, both drought and fire,” said MDA Director Ben Thomas. “There’s currently a major need for resources and there’s been an overwhelming swell of support from folks across the state and throughout the country. We saw a need to get information out about resources available and ways to help connect peop

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Secretary Perdue on Japan’s Planned Increase of Tariff on U.S. Frozen Beef

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2017 – The government of Japan has announced that rising imports of frozen beef in the first quarter of the Japanese fiscal year (April-June) have triggered a safeguard, resulting in an automatic increase to Japan's tariff rate under the WTO on imports of frozen beef from the United States.  The increase, from 38.5 percent to 50 percent, will begin August 1, 2017 and last through March 31, 2018.  The tariff would affect only exporters from countries, including the United States, which do not have free trade agreements with Japan currently in force. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement: “I am concerned that an increase in Japan's tariff on frozen beef imports will impede U.S. beef sales and is likely to increase the United States’ overall trade deficit with Japan.  This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products.  It would also nega

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Montana FSA: USDA offers help to fire-affected farmers and ranchers in Montana

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Acting State Executive Director, Amy Webbink in Montana, reminds farmers and ranchers affected by the recent wildfires that disaster assistance programs are available to support their recovery efforts. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) can assist farmers and ranchers who lost livestock, grazing land, fences or eligible trees, bushes and vines as a result of a natural disas

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Drought expansion in Montana

Much of Montana and parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas had no rain this week; some areas have been drier than normal for the last 2 to 3 months; and some drought indicators reflect dryness for the last 12 months. D3-D4 were expanded in northeast Montana, and D3 expanded in northwest South Dakota and was added in southeast South Dakota, where the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was consistently at those dry levels for the last 1 to 9 months. D1-D4 expanded in northwest North Dakota where the SPI was consistently at those dry levels for the last 1-6 months. D0-D2 expanded across much of Nebraska, with collateral expansion of D1-D2 in adjace

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Wildfire Relief: Here’s How you Can Help

From Northern Ag Network: For those who are interested in helping, here is a running list of what is needed and where you can help or donate. Please contact the team leads before showing up with donations. This is one of the most important things you can do to help our neighbors in coordinating. We have so many generous neighbors and are trying to make the most out of the donations without overwhelming the locals! HAY, TRUCKING AND FEED LOT COORDINATION: ·        Jana Hance, Redwater Valley Bank: 406-485-4782, mobile 406-974-2555 Send details to Jana at jana@redwatervalleybank.com Call Jana and let her know what you have to donate OR what you need.

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USDA opens more land for emergency haying and grazing

On July 20 Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices. “We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” said Perdue. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.” For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Secretary Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that

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Miles City, FSA offices off the chopping block for now

Senate committees pass bills with language prohibiting closure of essential agricultural facilities The Miles City cattle research farm and county Farm Service Agency offices appear likely to stick around, with both winning language in budget bills for fiscal year 2018 that prohibit their closure. Language in the Senate’s FY2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill nixes closing both the Fort Keogh Range and Livestock Research Laboratory in Miles City and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Idaho. The two centers were among 17 USDA-Agricultural Research Service centers listed for closure in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal. The bill rejects closing any of them.

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Tester Secures Major Investments, Advances Montana Priorities in Critical Funding Bills

(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, advanced Montana priorities and secured major investments in two critical funding bills. Tester successfully included amendments to strengthen the ban on Brazilian beef imports and to force the nomination of a USDA Rural Development Undersecretary in the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  Tester’s amendments will require USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to report to Congress on specific provisions regarding the Brazilian beef ban and to restore the position of USDA Rural Development Undersecretary, which Perdue has attempted to eliminate. “During times of drought and market uncertainty, it is critical that Montana family farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to protect their bottom line,” Tester said.  “This important bill invests in agriculture research, protects critical FSA jobs, improves water infrastructure, and ensures rural America h

Drought Relief Discount Announced by SweetPro & Agri-Best Feeds

SweetPro and Agri-Best Feeds have instituted a Drought Relief Discount of $80/ton on qualifying SweetPro orders delivered to ranches affected by the D2-D4 drought according to the U.S Drought Monitor – www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu .  The Drought Relief Discount is effective immediately and will continue on qualifying orders through the month of August. SweetPro is a complete supplement that not only fills in the gaps where the grass is lacking; it also helps cattle break their forage down better, resulting in cattle performing better on LESS grass.  SweetPro’s nutritionist, Abe Scheaffer Ph. D., states, “The digestible fiber in SweetPro helps extend the use of a pasture, whereas the sugars in molasses or starches in grain increase forage consumption.  We know that our customers are hurting, and we need to do what we can to keep them in business,” concluded Scheaffer. For more information and qualifications of the Drought Relief

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Montana Producers Have until Aug. 1 to Enroll in ARC/PLC

From the Prairie Star: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director (SED) Amy Webbink reminds farmers and ranchers that they have until Aug. 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2017 crop year. These programs trigger financial protections for participating agricultural producers when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices or revenues.   “Producers have already elected ARC or PLC, but to receive program benefits they must enroll for the 2017 crop year by signing a contract before the Aug. 1 deadline,” Webbink said. “Please contact your local FSA office to schedule an appointment if you have not yet enrolled.”   Covered commodities under the programs include barley

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Momentum Continues for Red Meat Exports

U.S. pork and beef exports posted a strong May performance, increasing significantly from the previous month and from year-ago levels, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports reached 222,015 metric tons (mt) in May, up 11 percent year-over-year and the fourth-largest monthly volume on record. Pork export value was $583.2 million, up 16 percent. For January through May, exports increased 14 percent from a year ago in volume (1.05 million mt, a record pace) and 18 percent in value ($2.68 billion). Even with the growth in U.S. pork production, exports account for a larger share in 2017. May exports equated to 29.4 percent of total production and just under 25 percent for muscle cuts only – up from 28.4 percent and 24.3 percent, respectively, last year. Through the first five months of 2017, exports accounted for 27.9 percent of total production and 23.2 percent for muscle cuts (up from 25.2 percent and 21.3 perce

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Be Aware of the Montana Pesticide Disposal Program and 2017 Disposal Sites

by Cecil Tharp, MSU Pesticide Education Specialist Delaying removal of unused pesticide products often leads to corroded containers that pose unnecessary risks towards the environmental and human health. Pesticide applicators should be aware of the resources available for discarding pesticide waste. 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 pesticide products or unusable pesticides that are in need of disposal. The Montana pesticide waste disposal program began in 1

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U.S. Cattle Industry Leaders Establish Direction for Policy, Checkoff Programs

More than 700 at Summer Business Meeting in Denver, Colo. DENVER, Colo. (July 13, 2017) – More than 700 cattle industry leaders are gathering at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver this week to help create direction for industry programs. The meeting runs July 13-15. The event includes sessions of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National CattleWomen and National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Among the purposes of the yearly conference is to create a framework for checkoff and policy efforts on behalf of U.S. cattle producers for the 2018 fiscal year, which for NCBA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board begins Oct. 1. Keynote speaker at Thursday’s Opening General Session is Eric Baumgartner, executive vice president of VML, a global marketing ad agency. Baumgartner will provide insight into the advent of technologies that are changing how consumers purchase almost everything they buy, from hamburgers to vacations. General

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Consider filing for “Exempt” Water Rights

- by Krista Lee Evans Water rights are a property right critical to agricultural production, that water users need to protect. In the early 1980’s, at the beginning of the adjudication process, the Montana Supreme Court issued an order that all water users who wanted to claim a right to use water that was put to use before 1973 had to file a claim with the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC).   The Court did, however, provide two exceptions to this requirement - instream stock use and domestic use - that was used prior to 1973.  These are the “Exempt From Filing” Water Rights that we now have the chance to address. This year’s passage of HB 110 provided a means to protect these property rights by clarifying the opportunity to file a claim for any “exempt” instream stock or domestic rights that were put to use prior to 1973, and that have not been claimed in the adjudication process. It is important that we recognize the significant opportunity that this

USDA Designates Eight Counties in North Dakota as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States

In response to a request from Brian Haugen, Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) acting State Executive Director in North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Logan, McIntosh, McKenzie, Mountrail and Sioux counties in North Dakota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by a recent drought. Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Montana qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Montana Richland, Roosevelt and Wibaux All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on July 6, 2017, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, provided eligibility requirements are

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Costly Closings: USDA ARS proposed lab closures affect producers nationwide

By SUE ROESLER, The Prairie Star USDA-ARS (Agricultural Research Service) center closures affect not only the producers in the state they are located in, but also farmers throughout the nation lose out on the benefits of national collaborative ag research. Seventeen USDA-ARS research centers/labs may be closed under the administration’s 2018 final budget proposal delivered to Congress in June. Of those 17, four ARS labs are part of this upper northern region, including centers in Dubois, Idaho; Miles City, Mont.; Morris, Minn.; and Brookings, S.D. The USDA-ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Lab in Miles City, Mont., mirrors what producers do in the real world – raise cattle on native prairie and improved grasses on pastures and rangeland – and it has been conducting research there since the 1930s. “Fort

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