Grazing Lands Focus of Upcoming National Conference

The National Grazing Lands Coalition (NatGLC) will host the 7th National Conference on Grazing Lands Dec. 2-5, 2018, at the Peppermill in Reno, Nev. Conference organizers expect more than 800 ranchers, professors, land managers, researchers, public officials, conservationists, and students to attend this national conference and participate in the exchange of ideas and information on the latest grazing land issues.

“We are excited about bringing this national conference to Nevada,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition. “Grazing lands make up more than a quarter of the private land acres in the United States and serve many roles from homes for livestock and wildlife to sponges for rainfall, carbon reservoirs, hunting and fishing grounds, and much, much more.”

Featured speakers include two renowned grazing experts, Jim Gerrish and Fred Provenza. Gerrish is a grazing lands producer and consultant dedicated to aiding farmers and ranchers in more effectively managing their grazing lands for economic and environmental sustainability. Provenza is a professor emeritus at Utah State University who produced groundbreaking research over a more than 30-year career that laid the foundations for what is now known as behavior-based landscape management.

“What makes this conference unique is the range of speakers we will have, from grazing land experts to ‘cowboy experts,’ the individuals who have gained their expertise through long hours working with livestock,” said Chad Ellis, chair of the National Grazing Lands Coalition. “We invite everyone to submit a paper or abstract to make an oral presentation or present a poster paper.”

Abstracts are due by May 15, 2018. Producer panels, featuring three to five producers per panel, will cover the following topics:

  • Transition Planning
  • Leases and Working with Absentee Landowners
  • Reducing Winter Feeding Costs
  • Diversified Livestock Watering Systems and Fire Resiliency

In addition, the NatGLC will hold a Conservation Innovation Grant symposium on Monday afternoon to highlight progress on the “Outreach on Grazing Land to Enhance Economic Analysis (Cost Benefit) for Conservation Changes.”

Early registration of $295 is available through March 31, 2018, followed by regular online registration of $395 until Oct. 15, 2018. After that date, registration increases to $475. Registration online, and obtain more information about opportunities to exhibit or participate in poster presentations at www.grazinglands.org.

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 health, concentrated animal feeding operations/animal feeding operations, or noxious weeds on private Montana grazing lands.

Applications will be accepted from groups of individuals, non-governmental organizations, and state or local units of government. The Montana GLCI steering committee places special emphasis on cooperative efforts working with partners. Individual projects will be considered only if the project provides broad-scale, community-wide impacts and education.

Projects must be initiated in 2018. Funding will be allocated on an annual basis, which is dependent upon the yearly Montana GLCI budget allocation. Application submission does not guarantee project funding will be available. All applicants must show a one-to-one match for project cost.

Get more information about both the mini-grant and demonstration project funding opportunities, including application requirements and forms, at www.mtglci.org.

Range Ruminations: Are Range Grasses Vulnerable to Grazing during Early Fall?

Jeff Mosley MSU ExtensionIn ranching it’s often necessary to spend money to make money. Funds from savings accounts or operating loans are spent to purchase inputs such as vaccine, seed, fertilizer, or feed. These inputs help fuel the engine that hopefully returns enough income to replenish the savings account or repay the bank, and also cover enough living expenses that you can afford to play the game again next year.

Range grasses often play a similar game during early autumn. Most years range grasses go dormant in late summer when days get hot and soils get dry. If more mild temperatures return in September and October accompanied by rain or early wet snow, grasses respond by breaking summer dormancy. To initiate this new growth grasses must draw upon stored energy reserves in their roots and stem bases. In other words, grasses must spend some of their savings to kick-start the new growth in early fall.

After the new leaves reach one-third to one-half their mature size they produce enough energy via photosynthesis to fuel their own growth and begin replenishing the plant’s energy reserves (i.e., begin repaying the bank). With enough time and leaf area, grasses are able to repay the bank, cover their living expenses, and can afford to play the game again next year. However, if grazing during early fall removes too much of this new leaf area before plants replenish their reserves, range grasses enter winter in a weakened condition, may not survive winter, won’t produce as much forage next spring, and won’t compete as well against weeds next year.

Similar situations occur in hay fields cut too late in the season, prompting recommendations that the last cutting of hay should occur at least three weeks before the killing frost to enable plants to recover before winter, or swathing should wait until later in the season when cold temperatures prevent plants from expending stored reserves to fuel regrowth.

Few ranches, however, are able to stop grazing three weeks before the first killing frost in order to manage their livestock grazing enterprise as they do their hay enterprise. One approach that can help is to move livestock from rangelands to seeded pastures comprised of grass species that better tolerate grazing during early fall. If this is not feasible, another approach is to reduce grazing intensity during early fall. Grazing lightly during early fall (i.e., leaving more than three to four inches of residual forage height after grazing) provides grasses more leaf area for photosynthesis to produce energy that can restore the reserves used to break summer dormancy. Rotational grazing also works well during fall. The first grazing period can be brief during early fall when grasses are growing, followed by heavier grazing during late fall when it’s too cold for plants to initiate regrowth after grazing.

In summary, close grazing of range grasses during early fall can be very damaging when growing conditions have enabled grasses to break summer dormancy. Avoiding heavy grazing during these times will keep grasses healthy going into winter and help grasses produce more forage next spring. Happy ruminating.

In ranching it’s often necessary to spend money to make money. Funds from savings accounts or operating loans are spent to purchase inputs such as vaccine, seed, fertilizer, or feed. These inputs help fuel the engine that hopefully returns enough income to replenish the savings account or repay the bank, and also cover enough living expenses that you can afford to play the game again next year.

Range grasses often play a similar game during early autumn. Most years range grasses go dormant in late summer when days get hot and soils get dry. If more mild temperatures return in September and October accompanied by rain or early wet snow, grasses respond by breaking summer dormancy. To initiate this new growth grasses must draw upon stored energy reserves in their roots and stem bases. In other words, grasses must spend some of their savings to kick-start the new growth in early fall.

After the new leaves reach one-third to one-half their mature size they produce enough energy via photosynthesis to fuel their own growth and begin replenishing the plant’s energy reserves (i.e., begin repaying the bank). With enough time and leaf area, grasses are able to repay the bank, cover their living expenses, and can afford to play the game again next year. However, if grazing during early fall removes too much of this new leaf area before plants replenish their reserves, range grasses enter winter in a weakened condition, may not survive winter, won’t produce as much forage next spring, and won’t compete as well against weeds next year.

Similar situations occur in hay fields cut too late in the season, prompting recommendations that the last cutting of hay should occur at least three weeks before the killing frost to enable plants to recover before winter, or swathing should wait until later in the season when cold temperatures prevent plants from expending stored reserves to fuel regrowth.

Few ranches, however, are able to stop grazing three weeks before the first killing frost in order to manage their livestock grazing enterprise as they do their hay enterprise. One approach that can help is to move livestock from rangelands to seeded pastures comprised of grass species that better tolerate grazing during early fall. If this is not feasible, another approach is to reduce grazing intensity during early fall. Grazing lightly during early fall (i.e., leaving more than three to four inches of residual forage height after grazing) provides grasses more leaf area for photosynthesis to produce energy that can restore the reserves used to break summer dormancy. Rotational grazing also works well during fall. The first grazing period can be brief during early fall when grasses are growing, followed by heavier grazing during late fall when it’s too cold for plants to initiate regrowth after grazing.

In summary, close grazing of range grasses during early fall can be very damaging when growing conditions have enabled grasses to break summer dormancy. Avoiding heavy grazing during these times will keep grasses healthy going into winter and help grasses produce more forage next spring. Happy ruminating.

Federal judge denies injunction to stop sheep grazing in Gravelly Mountains

IMG_0589In July, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris denied a preliminary injunction to block sheep grazing on two U.S. Forest Service allotments in the Gravelly Mountains in southwestern Montana. The injunction was sought by the Gallatin Wildlife Association (GWA) and would have affected permittees Helle Livestock and Rebish/Konen Livestock Limited Partnership. The decision is significant because it demonstrates that the Court is thus far unconvinced by GWA’s claims and presently finds the group unlikely to succeed on the merits of the case.

GWA claimed an injunction was necessary to prevent irreparable harm to grizzly bears and bighorn sheep, as well as its members’ recreational and aesthetic values. In a memorandum explaining his decision to deny the injunction, Judge Morris highlighted the fact that domestic sheep have grazed in the Gravelly Mountains since the 1860s and seven domestic sheep grazing allotments have been managed there since the 1920s. He stated, “Gallatin fails to explain how this historical grazing apparently has not caused irreparable harm, yet allowing grazing to occur during the 2015 grazing season would cause irreparable harm.”

Judge Morris also pointed out that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks introduced the Greenhorn herd of bighorns sheep into the Gravelly Mountains just 12 years ago. A distance of six to 17 miles separates the bighorn sheep herd from one of the grazing allotments. No commingling has occurred to-date and no bighorn sheep have been removed or died due to domestic sheep grazing. Regarding grizzly bears, Judge Morris repeated his belief that GWA had failed to provide evidence why this year would be any more irreparably harmful to grizzly bears than the past 150 years of sheep grazing.

In the overarching case, GWA brought suit against the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) challenging the Annual Operating Instructions, the 2009 Revised Forest Plan, USFWS’s 2013 Biological Opinion for the Revised Forest Plan, and the Forest Service’s failure to prepare supplemental National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis on specific Allotment Management Plans. GWA alleges that the Forest Service has violated NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Forest Management Act. Seven grazing allotments in the Gravelly Mountains are at issue in the case. The Helles and Rebish/Konen Livestock, as permittees, were allowed to intervene.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Court must defer to the agencies’ judgment, and will only set aside their decisions if it determines their actions were “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A). The Court’s preliminary review in the context of the injunction decision revealed no such issues.

The Court did express concerns about the Forest Service failing to include a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between itself, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the permittees as part of its final Environmental Impact Statement. The MOU prohibits the Forest Service from changing the domestic sheep grazing, but any of the parties can terminate the agreement at any time. The fact that the MOU was eventually acknowledged, “tempers the Court’s concern,” according to the memorandum. However, this issue could have an impact on GWA’s claims in regards to NEPA violations.

In the memorandum, Judge Morris emphasized the challenge for federal land managers to balance the “seeming incompatibility of grizzly bear and bighorn sheep with domestic sheep.” He stated that the issues presented by GWA will likely remain beyond this grazing season and the Court will carefully examine the issues raised by the case. However, an injunction to halt grazing this season was not warranted.

By Ariel Overstreet-Adkins, law student at the University of Montana School of Law

Montana Winter Grazing Seminar to Focus on Sustainability

BILLINGS, Mont. – Perspectives on sustainability in Montana’s agriculture and natural resources will be the central focus of the 2015 Winter Grazing Seminar, to be held Jan. 21-22 in Billings, Mont., at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center.

The first day of the seminar will feature Wayne Fahsholtz, currently with AgWin Group LLC in Dayton, Wyo., and a past president of the Padlock Ranch. Fahsholtz will give a presentation on enabling sustainable ranch success. Jill Herold, from Syngenta, will follow with a talk on sustainability in Montana.

Next will be a rancher panel to discuss a producer’s perspective on sustainability moderated by Dr. John Paterson. The panel will include Dave Mannix of Helmville, Chase Hibbard of Helena and Leo Barthelmess of Malta. The first day presentations will conclude with a discussion on the early buy-out option of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. Heidi Brewer, Chief Program Specialist with the Farm Service Agency, will talk about the program and rancher Tom Hogan of Broadview will detail the economics of the buy-out option.

That evening, a social hour and banquet will be held at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Northern Ag Network’s Russell Nemetz will be the Master of Ceremonies for the banquet. Range Leader of the Year Awards will be given to the winners of the rancher and agency/consultant categories. The High Country Cowboys will be the evening’s entertainment with a variety of country music.

The second day of the seminar will begin with a panel of consultants to speak on sustainability. The panel will include Butch Whitman, nutritionist with West Feeds; Neal Fehringer, a professional agronomist and consultant; and Bill Ramsey, a livestock information manager for DuPont Pioneer. Following the panel talk, Chase Hibbard will give a presentation on behalf of the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) Steering Committee on the new Grazekeeper Record Keeping Program. The seminar will conclude with Dr. John Paterson and his presentation on sustainability in beef and the food market.

This year’s Winter Grazing Seminar is proudly sponsored by the Yellowstone Conservation District and in cooperation with the Rangeland Resources Executive Committee (RREC).

Registration is $50 per person until Jan. 20 and $55 at the door.

For the agenda and registration form please call (406) 247-4420 or visit the DNRC website.

Grazing Management Tools for Young Stockgrowers | Annual Convention Speaker

We’re excited to have a great line up of speakers for the 2014 Annual Convention, Dec. 11-13 in Billings. The featured speaker during our Young Stockgrowers meeting on Thursday night will be Tyrrell Hibbard with Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. Earlier this year, GLCI released a new web program to assist with grazing management. Tyrrell will be discussing this new tool and other uses of technology Young Stockgrowers can utilize when managing pastures and grazing forages. To learn more about the Annual Convention speaker line up, click here.

New Grazing Recordkeeping System Offers Ranchers Better Tool

Bozeman —The Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) recently launched a new web-based planning and record keeping program for ranchers and grazing managers. GrazeKeeper is an electronic tool to manage livestock and pasture inventory, grazing plans, and grazing records.

“We are very glad to see GrazeKeeper become a reality,” said Chase Hibbard, Montana GLCI committee member who helped develop the program. “This will offer ranchers a tool they have not had before to make their recordkeeping and grazing decisions easier.”

GrazeKeeper, on the web at www.grazekeeper.com, allows users to inventory resources, track in- and out-dates of numerous herds, automatically track weather and precipitation using NOAA data, and map the ranch and pastures with Google Maps. GrazeKeeper is uniquely capable of providing reports by management group (animal herd) or by pasture and mining several years of data to compile in-depth reports.

Key Features of GrazeKeeper:

  • Simplifies the task of keeping pasture records
  • Simplifies the process of creating grazing reports, either by pasture or management group
  • Facilitates making informed decisions regarding stocking rates, carrying capacity, and grazing movements
  • Customizes pasture, livestock, and grazing reports

grazekeeperInterested users can sign up for GrazeKeeper at www.grazekeeper.com under a free 90-day trial period, which offers full functionality of the program and its valuable reports to users. After the free 90-day trial period, users will receive a payment window to purchase the product. Depending on the number of pastures a user wishes to track with GrazeKeeper, subscriptions run from $12 per month (for 10 pastures or less) to $48 per month (for unlimited pastures).

For more information about GrazeKeeper, and to sign up for a free 90-day trial, please visit www.grazekeeper.com.

2014 Governor’s Range Tour will highlight sustainable grazing practices in Mission Valley

Montana Annual Governor's Range TourRONAN, Mont. – This year’s Governor’s Range Tour will provide a great opportunity for producers, range professionals and the general public to see and discuss sustainable grazing practices on a number of Mission Valley livestock operations.

The two-day event begins on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, and concludes on Friday, Sept. 5.

“This year’s tour will focus on improving pasture conditions and financial returns,” said Chris Malgren, administrator of the Lake County Conservation District. “We’re highlighting a number of area ranches using innovative grazing strategies.”

The first day of the tour will open with a presentation on grazing techniques and holistic pasture management by Ben Montgomery and Justin Morris, both with the Montana Natural Resource Conservation Service. Following the presentation, tour participants will visit three ranches to hear their success stories using intensive and high stock density pasture grazing. The first is David Sturman’s operation, which uses mob grazing with sheep, while the second and third properties, owned by brothers Vern and Dennis Schlabach, respectively, will highlight their improved pasture conditions and forage production on their properties from the use of mob grazing with cattle.

Day one of the tour will conclude with a discussion at Jake Yoder’s ranch regarding the value of cattle grazing weeds, and improving animal condition and calf weights by making improvements in grazing management on a degraded hay field. There will also be a body condition scoring workshop with Rachel Endecott, MSU Beef Cattle Extension Specialist.

“This scoring demonstration will offer a great way for producers to quickly and accurately gauge livestock health and nutritional status in the field,” said Malgren.

Day one of the tour will conclude with a banquet at the Ninepipes Lodge. Ray Beck, DNRC Deputy Director, will serve as Master of Ceremonies and Governor Steve Bullock (invited) is the scheduled keynote speaker.

Day two of the tour will feature an electric fencing demonstration and workshop. Montgomery and Morris will review the different materials, layout options, and discuss tips and techniques for making temporary fencing easy and effective.

The Governor’s Range Tour is an annual DNRC-sponsored event that rotates around the state, highlighting excellence and innovation in production agriculture and natural resource stewardship.

“The tour is an excellent opportunity for landowners, the general public and resource management folks to discuss issues and share experiences,” said Jim Simpson, Lake County Conservation District Supervisor. “We’re excited to be hosting it this year and hope to see plenty of people come out.”

Registration for the tour begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 4 at the Amish Community Center, located on the corner of Allison and Foothills roads just outside of St. Ignatius, Mont.

Full registration costs $40.00 and includes the tour, lunch and banquet; the tour and lunch only costs $15.00, while a ticket for the banquet only is $30.00. Registration is available on the day of the event, but pre-registration is encouraged.

For more information on this year’s Governor’s Range Tour, contact Chris Malgren, Ben Montgomery or Heidi Crum (contact information at top of this release).

To download a poster and registration form, visit the Montana DNRC Web site at http://www.dnrc.mt.gov/cardd/consdist/rangelandmanagement.asp or the DNRC Rangeland Resources Program Facebook page at https://www.facebook,com/MontanaRangeProgram.

United States Department of Agriculture

2014 Farm Bill provides Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP)

United States Department of AgricultureThe Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) makes the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) a permanent program and provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses back to October 1, 2011.

LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county.

LFP also provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses on rangeland managed by a Federal agency if the eligible livestock producer is prohibited by the Federal agency from grazing the normal permitted livestock on the managed rangeland due to a qualifying fire. The grazing losses must have occurred on or after October 1, 2011. LFP is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eligibility

Livestock producers that own or lease grazing land or pastureland physically located in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3), or exceptional drought (D4) may be eligible for LFP.

  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to one monthly payment if any area of the county had a severe drought rating for at least eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period.
  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to three monthly payments if any area of the county had an extreme drought rating at any time during the normal grazing period.
  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to four monthly payments if any area of the county had an extreme drought rating for at least four weeks during the normal grazing period or if any area of the county had an exceptional drought rating at any time during the grazing season.
  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to five monthly payments if any area of the county had an exceptional drought rating for at least four weeks during the normal grazing period.

A map of eligible counties for LFP drought is available at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Rates & Payments

Payment rates vary by species and year, and they also vary by cause of loss.

FSA will calculate LFP payments for an eligible livestock producer for grazing losses due to qualifying drought equal to 1, 3, 4 or 5 times the LFP monthly payment rate. Eligible livestock producers in qualifying counties will receive 60 percent of the monthly payment rate as calculated by the FSA.

Eligible livestock producers who sold or otherwise disposed of livestock because of drought conditions in one or both of the two previous production years immediately preceding the current production year will receive 80 percent of the monthly payment rate.

Eligible livestock producers who suffered losses because of a qualifying fire on Federally managed rangeland for which the producer is prohibited from grazing the normally permitted livestock will receive 50 percent of the monthly payment rate.

The following is a hypothetical payment calculation for an eligible rancher who owns and grazed 400 mature cows and 100 yearlings in a county with an exceptional drought rating for one week during each of the 2012 and 2013 summer grazing seasons.

Year Animals Type Rate % Payment Subtotal Months Total
2012 400 Cows $51.81 60% $12,434.40 4 $49,737.60
2012 100 Yearlings $38.86 60% $2,331.60 4 $9,326.40
2013 400 Cows $57.27 60% $13,744.80 4 $54,979.20
2013 100 Yearlings $42.96 60% $2,577.60 4 $10,310.40
Total $124,353.60

Producers are limited to $125,000 in payments per producer per year.  Also, producers are ineligible if their individual or entity’s average Adjusted Gross Income exceeds $900,000.

For complete LFP eligibility requirements, producers are encouraged to visit their county Farm Service Agency office. Additional risk management tools and programs are available through the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Visit the RMA website (www.RMA.USDA.gov) to find many useful tools, including premium calculators, extensive program descriptions, and a variety of educational materials.

Federal crop insurance program policies are sold and serviced by private crop insurance companies.  Custom Ag Solutions works with RMA and other partner organizations to educate Montana producers about risk management and Federal crop insurance programs.  To receive information by mail, call CAS at 877-227-8094.  USDA, RMA, and CAS are equal opportunity providers.

Judith Basin Range School | May 22 in Stanford

A Range School Unlike Any Other… Creating Choice and the Ability to Choose

May 22nd , 2014 | Harley & Gordon Hughes, Hughes Livestock Co. | South of Stanford

A time to learn, think about opportunities, and understand the options.

Montana Conservation DistrictsJoin us for a daylong, hands-on, and interactive seminar with Greg Simonds and Jeff Goebel. For 30 years Mr. Simonds has managed, owned and consulted ranches whose mission was earn a profit while improving the natural resources.

Many of us have heard speakers give presentations on rotational grazing, intensive grazing, range monitoring, and improving the land. These principles are not new, and many of our ranches have been practicing these for generations. Have you ever attended a talk and thought “I’d like to try that” or “that just might improve my place”, but then go home only to attend to daily tasks and never implement the change?

Most of us definitely don’t lack the knowledge to change, so why don’t we make the changes? What is holding us back? We are all tied to the land we work, mentally, emotionally and financially.

There is so much risk involved when implementing a change, especially in today’s market of production and price risk. Mr. Simonds has experienced and overcome many of these challenges during his 30 years of managing ranches. Join us as we hash out how to create choices and the ability to choose at the 2014 Range School.

Event Details

  • 9:00 a.m. -Registration
  • 9:15-12:30 Rotating Pastures, Changing Minds
  • 12-30-1:30 –Lunch Sponsored by: Basin State Bank
  • 1:30-3:00 –Stepping Out of the Box, But not into ****!
  • 3:00 – 5:00- Pasture Walk
  • 5:30- Steak Dinner Sponsored by: Judith Basin Conservation District

Topics of Discussion will include:

  • How do you make changes? trouble?
  • How do you direct future operations of the ranch based on things you values?
  • How do you get out of day to day tasks to see the bigger picture?
  • How do you create a grazing plan when resources are limited and country is tough?
  • How do you match cattle to the environment?

Meet Jeff Goebel

With over thirty years of national and international successes in consensus building, conflict resolution, and visioning for sustainable solutions, Jeff is a leading expert in helping individuals and communities attain their goals and remove the obstacles that lie in their way. Jeff’s career has focused on catalyzing positive change with nonprofits, tribal governments, government agencies, multi‐national corporations, communities, and small family ranchers.

Registration Form

Please Register by May 10th including $10.00 fee. Registration includes: Lunch, Snacks, Drinks and Steak Dinner. Please Name, Address and Telephone to: Judith Basin Conservation District, 121 Central Avenue, Stanford MT 59479 For more information contact the Extension Office at 406-566-2277

USDA & MSU are an equal opportunity provider and employer. NRCS provides reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities to participate in NRCS programs and activities. If you require special accommodations, please contact Teresa at 406-566-2311 ext. 107 by May 20, 2014.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Public Lands Council Logo

Senate Committee Passes Grazing Improvement Act

Public Lands Council Logo

(The following is a press release from the Public Lands Council)

WASHINGTON (November 21, 2013) — The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) hailed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for passage of S. 258, the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) comes as a means to codify existing appropriations language — adding stability and efficiency to the federal grazing permit renewal process. The bill passed by the Committee will extend the term for grazing permits from a minimum of 10 up to 20 years, providing for added permit security. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have consistently — for more than a decade — carried a backlog of grazing permit renewals due to overwhelming and unnecessary National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) assessments. This bill provides sole discretion to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to complete the environmental analysis under NEPA while allowing for an analysis to take place at the programmatic level.

“The act is vital for ensuring the fate of our producer’s permits — livelihoods are depending on the efficiency of the system — which undoubtedly needs restructuring,” said Scott George, NCBA president and Wyoming rancher. “Not only will the bill codify the language of the decades old appropriations rider, it will also allow categorical exclusions from NEPA for permits continuing current practices and for crossing and trailing of livestock. Additionally, it will allow for NEPA on a broad scale, reducing paper pushing within the federal agencies.”

The bill that passed was an amendment in the nature of a substitute which included troubling language, creating a pilot program which would allow for limited “voluntary” buyouts. These “voluntary” buyouts are not actually market based, due to outside influence. Where voluntary relinquishment of a rancher’s grazing permit occurs, grazing would be permanently ended. New Mexico and Oregon would be impacted — allowing for up to 25 permits in each state, per year to be “voluntarily” relinquished.

“PLC strongly opposes buyouts — voluntary or otherwise,” said Brice Lee PLC president and Colorado rancher. “Ultimately, buyouts create an issue for the industry due to the wealthy special interest groups who work to remove livestock from public lands. The language in the amendment addresses ‘voluntary’ buyouts; however, radical, anti-grazing agendas are likely at play. Litigation and persistent harassment serve as a way to eliminate grazing on public lands—and could force many ranchers into these ‘voluntary’ relinquishments, unwillingly. There can be no ‘market based solution’ in which any given special interest group is able to ratchet up ranchers’ cost of operation, and artificially create a ‘voluntary’ sale or relinquishment.”

Nevertheless, both Lee and George agree the bill is a strong indication that Senators from both parties recognize the current system is broken and must be fixed to provide stability for grazing permit renewals; despite the buyout language.

“Passage out of committee is a feat in itself — we applaud the efforts of Senator Barrasso and we are hopeful the bill will continue to improve as it advances in the Senate,” George said.

PLC has represented livestock ranchers who use public lands since 1968, preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West. Ranchers who utilize public lands own nearly 120 million acres of the most productive private land and manage vast areas of public land, accounting for critical wildlife habitat and the nation’s natural resources. PLC works to maintain a stable business environment in which livestock producers can conserve the West and feed the nation and world.