MSU Names New Vice President of Agriculture

BOZEMAN – After a national search, Montana State University has selected Sreekala Bajwa to become its next vice president of agriculture.

Bajwa has been serving as chair of North Dakota State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and professor of agricultural engineering since 2012. She will begin at MSU on Jan. 14.

As the vice president of agriculture, Bajwa will oversee a teaching, education and research network that stretches across Montana with seven agricultural research centers, five academic departments and five Bozeman-based campus farms and ranches. The College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station collectively conduct research to address production challenges to benefit the agricultural industry in Montana.

“The College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station are cornerstones of our land-grant mission,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Our search produced many strong candidates, but in Dr. Bajwa, we have found someone extremely qualified to lead agriculture at Montana State into its future through her pioneering vision for new applications in agriculture and natural resources.”

Bajwa said she is honored to be chosen as the next vice president of agriculture.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to join a thriving university with a deep commitment to excellence and innovation,” she said. “I intend to continue supporting the university’s diverse agroscience research while promoting MSU’s students, faculty and programs in line with its land-grant missions. I very much look forward to getting to know the Big Sky state and working with our stakeholders and partners.”

Bajwa has an extensive background in agricultural engineering and developing technology for smart agriculture. She is a highly regarded researcher of precision agriculture and has provided international leadership into research and education for applying remote sensing and unmanned aerial systems to agricultural systems.

Under her leadership, NDSU was ranked 18th in the world for precision agriculture by Precision Agriculture Professionals, and she led the development of that university’s academic major and minor in precision agriculture. She has worked collaboratively with NDSU Extension, the agricultural experiment station, USDA-ARS, and many industries including Fortune 500 technology companies on a multi-million dollar initiative to improve smart farming.

Her technological accomplishments include four inventions in digital agriculture and bio-based materials, and she has been lead investigator or co-investigator on 45 grant-funded projects worth more than $19 million. She is the author of five book chapters and more than 68 journal articles.

Bajwa received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Kerala Agricultural University in India, her master’s degree in agricultural engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in India and her doctorate of agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bajwa was chosen after a national search conducted by a six-person committee, chaired by Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Bob Mokwa. She replaces outgoing Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer, who will retire in December.

The College of Agriculture comprises five academic departments: Agricultural Economics and Economics, Animal and Range Sciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, and the Department of Research Centers; as well as the Division of Agricultural Education, and includes the Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine.

 

 

Source: MSU

Montana Stockgrowers to Host 134th Annual Convention in Billings

December 11-13. Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) will celebrate 134 years of serving the state’s ranchers at their Annual Convention & Trade Show. This year’s meetings at the Northern Hotel and DoubleTree Hotel in Billings will feature a trade show, educational workshops, and policy meetings.

“Our 2018 Annual Convention will feature a large number of discussions about issues that will turn into policy for the Association,” noted MSGA President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon. “Policy set at Convention will guide the actions of MSGA at the upcoming Montana Legislative Session. I encourage everyone to come to Billings to lend their voice to help guide the future of Montana Agriculture! Your voice is your future. Share your insight, learn from others and help shape our industry.”

Department of Interior’s Tim Williams, the Deputy Director of External Affairs, will be the featured speaker during Wednesday’s Opening General Session. Williams originates from Nevada, where he served as Deputy Director of the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Prior to that, he was a partner at a political consulting firm, managing local, state and Congressional races.

A broad range of educational workshops will be offered during the Stockgrowers College. Speakers will touch on topics of calf health and nutrition, calf management, heifer development, antibiotic use, access issues, soil health, EID systems, DNA technology, risk management, and estate planning.

Policy meetings will take place on all three days of Annual Convention. Guest speakers will address a number of topics affecting Montana’s ranching communities during the past year and in months to come. A Trade Show with over 100 booth spaces will be open to the public Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Thursday’s Grand Finale Banquet will be highlighted by the annual live auction for Cattle Directory Priority Page advertisements and a beef dinner!

A full meeting agenda, hotel information, details of policy meeting discussions and Stockgrowers College workshops are available on the MSGA website at mtbeef.org. Online and discounted registration closes Thursday, December 6. On-site registration will be available. For more information, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420.

TVMT (Television Montana) Becomes Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN)

The Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN) premieres November 1, 2018. The channel formerly known as TVMT (Television Montana) becomes MPAN to reflect the channel’s evolving focus toward expanding services to the citizens of Montana beyond the live, unedited, nonpartisan, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Legislative Branch. Viewers will notice a new look and logo for the channel that continues to provide the coverage citizens have come to rely on while expanding civic educational programming offerings into the future.

“My hope is that the name Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN) better describes how the channel serves the people of Montana, with in-depth coverage of their state government in action,” says Aaron Pruitt, Interim Director and General Manager of Montana PBS. “Our goal is to bring a fresh graphical look to the channel that appeals to today’s television audiences, as well as incorporating images of Montana that remind viewers of the beautiful state we all share.”

MPAN is a statewide Montana cable broadcast channel, produced in partnership with Montana PBS and the Montana Legislative Services Division. Montana PBS, the contracted operator of MPAN as of July 2017, produces and broadcasts all of MPAN’s content.

“TVMT (now MPAN) was born out of a desire to provide the public with access to their government and it performed that function admirably,” says Susan Fox, Executive Director of Montana Legislative Services Division (LSD). “The Montana Legislature has invested taxpayer money, and with it, its trust that we would provide a quality service to the people. I think we are now bringing to fruition the goal of expanded, transparent coverage of government with the technological quality that the public has come to expect. Our close partnership with Montana PBS will enable us to grow, add value, and bring greater coverage of public affairs to more Montana citizens.”

Evolving technology implemented by the LSD also improves the quality of the service. All live events produced at the Capitol are now in high definition and have a wide screen format to better serve modern televisions. A new increased broadcast bandwidth delivers a higher quality signal to its viewers. Viewers will see high-definition graphics and a new look and logo. Program schedule information will be available to viewers via listing services and the Montana PBS app. These improvements enable viewers to see what they are currently watching and allow them to digitally record future programming. In addition, Montana PBS and the LSD are working together to create closed captioning options for viewers in the near future.

Pruitt says the team creatively reimagined how the channel might better serve Montanans. “We all agreed that a new name and look was a great place to start. Under the direction of the LSD, the MPAN channel really belongs to the citizens of the state.”

MPAN reaches thousands of Montana homes through the efforts of Montana broadcasters, cable, and telecommunications providers. MPAN is seen in over 225 communities every day. It’s carried on Charter Communications, Montana PBS, 3 Rivers Communications, Mid-Rivers Communications, Nemont, MT Opticom, Skyview TV, Tobacco Valley Communications, Valley County Television District #1, Southern Montana Telephone, and Viking Broadband. MPAN is channel 191 in all Charter Spectrum markets, and is also on Montana PBS’s over the air digital lineup on the .5 channel as “Montana Capitol Coverage.”

MPAN provides the video for the Montana Legislature’s live streaming service online at www.leg.mt.gov. Viewers can also engage with the service through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on the web at www.leg.mt.gov/audio-video.

 

Source: Montana Legislative Services

Montana Beef Council Board of Directors set tentative marketing plan for fiscal year

The Montana Beef Council would like to invest up to $825,000 into programs of beef promotion, education, and producer communications in fiscal year 2019, which began Oct. 1. Programs approved could be funded through Montana’s 50 cent 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. 25-26 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 20 demand-building and producer communication project funding requests for checkoff funding, in the fiscal year.

“It was a very productive annual meeting and we plan to utilize the consent dollars available to invest in a variety of programs to showcase beef. We are still here and we still have a lot of work to do,” said Jim Taber, Montana Beef Council president, a cow-calf producer and backgrounder from Shawmut, Mont. “We’ll spend the remainder of our time and funding to seek more consent dollars from producers and share the value of the checkoff.”

As a result of its deliberations, the board of directors preliminarily approved requests from 16 different organizations that will strive towards the mission of protecting and increasing demand for beef and beef products. The Fiscal Year 2019 Marketing Plan for the Montana Beef Council includes:

  • $17,175 for in-state education programs and materials, including classroom education, farm fairs and a media-chef pasture to plate tour;
  • $33,890 for promotional programs and materials, focusing on in-state tradeshows, consumer radio and digital advertising,, a barbecue cook-off, an innovative beef competition, a foodservice partnership and a targeted consumer event in the Northeast United States;
  • $9,500 for the Montana Beef Quality Assurance program;
  • $103,000 for in-state producer communications, which includes producer outreach using television, digital and radio communication as well direct communications to producers about checkoff results and the consent form process;
  • $31,000 for national travel for representation of Montana producers by the elected Federation of State Beef Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation Directors; and

Other anticipated expenses funded through the budget include $324,350 for administration, which includes mandatory collection expenses, consent form processing,  office leases, insurance, equipment, office supplies, postage, telephone, Department of Livestock administration expenses, board expenses, in-state travel for programs and producer communication and administrative staff compensation for program implementation.

“Montana producers should feel proud of the work their beef marketing program is doing and I encourage ranchers to take some time to learn more about all the projects we do,” said Kiley Martinell, a cow-calf producer from Dell, Mont. “Each of our board members and staff is passionate about promoting beef and I have learned so much about the checkoff during my time on the board.”

Checkoff collection remains mandatory, however the above programs will only be carried out by Montana Beef Council after Montana producers complete and return the Producer Consent to Fund Montana Beef Council Form. The form can be obtained at www.MontanaBeefCouncil.org or by calling the Montana Beef Council at (406) 656-3336.

Source: Montana Beef Council Press Release

Gallatin Valley Agriculture Planning for the Future

Andrea Wass with Northwestern Mutual and Krista Evans with Blake Creek Project Management invite you to join them for an afternoon of learning. They will be featuring several expert speakers to help and assist you with generational planning as well as an in-depth water rights discussion, including water rights adjudication in the Gallatin. Please review the below agenda with the registration form.

Date: Thursday, November 8, 2018
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Gallatin County Fairgrounds
901 N Black Ave

Bozeman, MT 59715

*Attendees will also receive free admission to the Agriculture & Political Uncertainty Seminar at
Montana State University on Friday, November 9, 2018.

USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to invest in rural America with more than $4.8 billion in payments being made, starting this month, to agricultural producers through the Farm Service Agency’s Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve (CRP) programs. Approximately $3 billion in payments will be made under the ARC and PLC programs for the 2017 crop year, and approximately $1.8 billion in annual rental payments under CRP for 2018.

“Despite a temporary lapse of Farm Bill authorities, farmers and ranchers can rest assured that USDA continues to work within the letter of the law to deliver much-needed farm safety net, conservation, disaster recovery, and trade assistance program payments,” said Perdue.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and make up a portion of the agricultural safety net to producers when they experience a substantial drop in revenue or prices for their covered commodities.

“These program payments are mandated by Congress, but the Department has taken measures to ensure we meet our deadlines and get capital in the hands of those folks that need it most. Unfortunately, 2018 has proven to be another tough year for producers across the Nation, making the timeliness even more critical. Our resilient farmers, ranchers, and producers are battling more hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods, and even lava flows,” said Perdue.

PLC payments have triggered for 2017 barley, canola, corn, grain sorghum, wheat, and other crops. In the next few months, payments will be triggered for rice, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, crambe, and sesame seed. Producers with bases enrolled in ARC for 2017 crops can visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc for updated crop yields, prices, revenue, and payment rates. The estimated payments are before application of sequestration and other reductions and limits, including adjusted gross income limits and payment limitations.

Also, this week, USDA will begin issuing 2018 CRP payments to over 362,000 landowners to support voluntary conservation efforts on private lands. “CRP has long been a useful tool for the Department to encourage farmers to take that environmentally-sensitive, more unproductive land, out of production and build-up their natural resource base. These CRP payments are meant to help encourage land stewardship and help support an operation’s bottom line,” said Perdue.

Source: USDA

MSGA issues support for Secretary Zinke’s “Sue and Settle” Order

Today the Montana Stockgrowers Association issued support of the Department of Interior’s September 7, Secretarial Order 3368, regarding “sue and settle”.

“Ranchers in Montana are often subjected to unnecessary and relentless litigation brought by extreme environmental groups,” said Bryan Mussard, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “These actions waste taxpayer dollars; funds that should be utilized for wildfire prevention and improving the management of public lands are instead diverted to forced settlements. Under Secretary Zinke’s leadership, we have seen action to engage the BLM to manage the public land according to its original purpose and not be stifled by the fear of litigation.”

Tester Sponsors Bill to Protect Montana Livestock Sellers

Bipartisan SALE Act will Provide Extra Support for Ranchers at the Auction Yard

 

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is working with his colleagues across the aisle to protect Montana ranchers when they go to auction their livestock.

When heading to the auction yard, livestock sellers are dealt the short straw because if a dealer defaults on their payment to a seller, it is the bank who collects the collateral and the seller is left with nothing. That’s why Tester is sponsoring the Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act to ensure Montana ranchers aren’t left empty-handed if their buyers fail to make a timely payment.

“Montana’s ranchers deserve better,” Tester said. “They shouldn’t be risking their livelihood every time they head to the auction block.  It’s important that both parties put politics aside and work together to fix this broken system to give sellers security when they go to sell their livestock.”

The SALE Act requires all livestock purchased by dealers to be held in trust for the sellers until full payment is received.  It also ensures that the sellers, not the banks, retain the right to the traded assets if the dealer defaults on a payment.

This trust would not apply to small dealers with purchases of less than $250,000 annually and may be waived by written agreement between dealer and seller.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the American Farm Bureau, and the Livestock Marketing Association have all expressed their support for Tester’s legislation.

“The Dealer Statutory Trust is the most commonsense legislation I’ve come across in a long time,” said Joe Goggins, owner of Public Auction Yards and Northern Livestock Video Auction in Billings. “We appreciate Sen. Tester’s support of the bill. It’s only fair and right that the unpaid sellers of livestock have priority over the lenders, and their customers that did not pay for the livestock. It’s also only fair and right that a person who has been paid in good faith during the 90 days prior to a dealer’s filing bankruptcy should not be forced to pay that money to the bankruptcy trustee.”

This bill will provide a much-needed safety net for Montana’s ranchers when taking their livestock to auction.

Tester’s SALE Act is available HERE.

Source: Senator Tester Press Release

First Confirmed Equine Case of West Nile Virus in Montana for 2018

Helena, Mont. – The Montana Department of Livestock has received the first reported cases of equine West Nile Virus in Montana for 2018 in Musselshell and Lake Counties. This follows the detection of the virus in mosquito surveillance pools from Cascade, Hill, and Lewis and Clark Counties. Montana typically sees cases of West Nile Virus through late summer and into fall.

West Nile Virus affects humans, equines, and birds. It is spread through the bites of infected mosquitos; horses cannot transmit the virus directly to people. Detections of the disease in horses and mosquitos in Montana serve as an important reminder for people to take steps to prevent West Nile Virus infection.

“There is no direct treatment for the virus in horses, but vaccination is highly effective in preventing disease. Horses that are vaccinated rarely die or are euthanized because of the disease,” said Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, Assistant State Veterinarian.  “Vaccination is typically administered in the spring but may offer some protection even this late in the season. Work with your veterinarian to determine if your horse could still benefit from vaccination.”

Horse owners should be aware of the typical signs of West Nile Virus which include:

  • Fever, loss of appetite and depression;
  • Incoordination or weakness of the hind limbs;
  • Muscle or muzzle twitching, drooling.

In the meantime, topical insecticides and eliminating standing water may help decrease your horse’s exposure to mosquitos. The mosquitos that carry West Nile Virus are most active at dawn and dusk, so consider keeping your horses off of irrigated pastures and away from water sources during those times of the day.

The mission of the DOL is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the department, visit www.liv.mt.gov.

Montana CattleWomen host Ranch Run

CattleWomen host run to highlight the importance of agriculture and land stewardship

Join the Montana CattleWomen for their 4thannual ranch run on Saturday, August 25thin Lennep, Montana. Registration begins at 8 am and the race starts at 9 am.  This scenic  25-mile run is designed to showcase the importance of agriculture and land stewardship to the running community.  The course can be run solo or with a team of 2-5 members.  Parts of the course are challenging so have your teammates read through and choose appropriate leg assignments.  For a team of five, the cost is $35 per person or $50 to run solo. Runners will receive a t-shirt and enjoy a delicious meal, featuring beef, served the Montana CattleWomen at the end of the race. Visit www.themontanaranchrun.com to register.

The course extends through three-multi generation ranches, as well as US National Forest, and runs deep into the heart of the Castle Mountains.  The ranch run has five legs, all approximately five miles long, but the course is such that it can be run solo OR with a team of 2-5 members.  The closest lodging is in Harlowton or White Sulphur Springs or camp at the race site. Teams will need a high-clearance vehicle to drive on the course.  Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place teams.

This year’s generous sponsors include the Montana Beef Council, The Montana CattleWomen, Northwest Montana Keller Williams Realty, the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, Montana Land Reliance, Western Ranch Supply, Rabo AgriFinance, Montana T-Bone CattleWomen, the Central Montana CattleWomen, Rangeland Resources Executive Committee, the Montana DNRC.  For more information or any questions, contact Kari Berg Marks at (406) 572-3316 or email at ckmarks@mtintouch.net.