As I sit down to write this article it occurs to me that this will be my last article in the newsletter as your president. That thought comes with extremely mixed emotions! I have tremendously enjoyed my time representing you all in the ten years in leadership of this outstanding organization. Whenever I am asked about my role in MSGA, I always respond by saying that I get to work for the best bosses in the state. It is an honor to represent MSGA whether it be in DC, at a NCBA function, in meetings with state government officials, legislators, or at a local affiliate meeting and I always try to keep in mind that I am there representing all of you, not just myself. I have truly enjoyed every minute spent serving our industry in this “very large” state and will miss those opportunities. That being said, I know this organization will be in good hands with Bryan Mussard as your new president.
Monday the 10th we woke up to our first taste of winter here in northern Montana with over 6 inches of new snow here in Valier and about a foot west of town at Jeremy’s. It snowed off and on all day and we had another inch overnight. Like some of you, I am never as ready as I should be for winter and hopefully this is just the proverbial shot over the bow and Mother Nature will give us more time to prepare. Most of the calves are still on the cows and some are still west on summer pasture, but it sounds like the end of the week will be better.
I am still attending the BOL meetings and have offered to help any way I can in the upcoming legislative session to be sure the DOL budget gets through the legislature with enough money to provide the services the livestock industry expects and deserves. We all know that money will be tight this year, but I believe that with the present board and administrators we have in the department, the proposed budget will be accurate and much easier to defend. Getting General Fund money for the diagnostic lab will be crucial to having a budget that fits the needs of the industry. I expect at the next BOL meeting we will see the results of an analysis of the lab budget by Dr. Layton, Executive Officer Honeycutt, and Vice-chair John Scully. They are looking at the fee schedule and doing a cost analysis of various procedures to determine what costs can be attributed to human health. This information will be very valuable when defending the budget request.
Wayne Slaght, Jay Bodner, and I are still working with FWP on the Grizzly Bear issues that are expanding out of traditional Grizzly habitat onto surrounding farm and ranch land and into communities. As much as we all would like to see the Grizzly stay in the mountains, this potential conflict is not going away and in my opinion will only continue to escalate until the Grizzly is delisted. Even then, with the rules that will be in place upon delisting, I am not sure we will see much improvement. My one hope is that somehow we can re-instill a fear of humans that it seems the bears have lost. We are working on a list of mitigation procedures that some of us can use to reduce the potential for conflict. I know that the Rocky Mountain Front is not the only area that is seeing an increase in Grizzly activity and we intend to be involved wherever the potential for conflict exists. Just contact the office and we will share any information and help in any way we can.
I am looking forward to attending as many local meetings as I can this fall, so get your date into the office as soon as you can so we can schedule someone to attend. It is always rewarding for me to hear from members at these local events, to update you on what MSGA is doing for you, and to find out what else you would like us to do.
The Annual Convention is approaching fast and will be here before we know it. The date, as most of you know, is December 7-9 and the change you need to note is that this year we run from Wednesday through Friday instead of our traditional Thursday through Saturday. Hope to see you all there!
A big thank you to President Gene Curry for his service and commitment to not only MSGA but also Montana’s ranching industry as a whole. Be on the lookout this week for more information on the nominees for the MSGA Board of Directors.