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

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 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

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

The Fallon Creek Cattlewomen of the Ismay, Mont., area invite their urban friends and neighbors to an afternoon in the country full of ranch tours, activities and a beef barbecue on Saturday, June 23.

Hosted on the Griffin Ranch 40 miles east of Miles City, the activities will start at 2 p.m. with wagon tours to learn about the cattle and farming operations of the Griffin family. Following the tour will be games and activities for the entire family. Wrapping up the day is a steak fry and full-course meal.

The entire “Urban Meets Rural” tour is offered free of charge to those interested in learning more about how ranchers raise healthy, sustainable beef and care for the land. Registration and additional details are available through by searching for “Urban Meets Rural.” Allow approximately an hour travel time to the ranch from Miles City. The route includes 31 miles of paved highway and nine miles of gravel county road. In the event of rain, the event will be canceled.

Attendees are asked to register by June 20. For more information call or text Pam Griffin at 406.951.1006, or email her at

Producers Reminded to get Coverage Through State Hail Insurance Program

With hailstorms picking up throughout the state, the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding producers to get covered through the State Hail Insurance Program. Montana producers can conveniently access and fill out applications for state hail insurance online by going to

Producers can insure crops against hail damage at the maximum coverage rate of $75 per acre for dryland and $114 per acre for irrigated land. Rates charged are a percentage of the insured amount and vary by county. A detailed list of rates by county and crop can be found on the program’s website.

Completed forms can be emailed, mailed or faxed to the department or used as a reference when you contact the office by phone.

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

On May 11, 2018, the Clark Fork River above Missoula reached 33,250 cubic feet per second (cfs), the highest flow recorded since the river reached 48,000 cfs on June 1, 1908. This year’s peak flow was driven almost purely by the rapid snowmelt from the abundant and anomalous snowpack across the basin, unlike other big peak years (1964 and 1975) when there was a significant rain event in addition to already occurring snowmelt.

“This year will stand out in history as one of the biggest years on record for purely snowmelt-driven flows in rivers across the state,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) water supply specialist for Montana. “The flows we experienced during May were a direct result of the well above normal to record-breaking snowpack in place before snowmelt began along with above average temperatures and abundant sunshine.”

While most rivers didn’t set new records for peak flows with regards to an instantaneous flow measurement (cfs), 52 stream gauges along rivers and streams set new records for May monthly flows, and 12 additional sites were the second highest on record. “Monthly flow refers to the total volume of water to move through the river during the month, and what we experienced during May was record-setting,” said Zukiewicz. Records at some stream gage locations go back 90 years. It wasn’t just in northwest Montana where new records were set. “Records for May flows span the entire state. Almost two-thirds of the gauges we forecast set new records, both east and west of the Divide,” said Zukiewicz.

The impacts of the rapid snowmelt may be felt later in the summer season. Ideally, the slow release of mountain snowpack provides long-duration flows in the rivers and streams across the state. This year, snowpack peaked well above normal in many basins, but once it peaked it came out at an accelerated rate. “Snowmelt rates this May were well above average throughout the month, and it took its toll on the snowpack,” said Zukiewicz.

Snowpack as of June 1 remains near to above normal at many high elevation snowpack monitoring locations, but most mid-elevations are below normal for this date, and low elevations have melted during the early half of May. “Based on the predominant weather patterns that we experienced this winter, cool and wet, this is not what we were expecting. It’s almost like we skipped spring altogether this year and went straight into summer. The snowpack is moving out quickly, and early, this year,” said Zukiewicz. Snowmelt-driven peak flows have likely occurred on many river basins across the state, but higher elevation driven river basins in south-central Montana could still see additional peaks.

As of this date, many reservoirs are full or are reaching capacity from the abundant runoff, which will help to sustain flows in many river basins later this summer. Summer streamflow forecasts issued by the USDA-NRCS Montana Snow Survey generally remain near to above average for the June 1 – September 30 period, but summer precipitation, especially in June, will play a critical role in determining the long-term water supply.

Monthly Water Supply Outlook Reports can be found at this website after the 5th business day of the month:

MSGA to host agency officials at MidYear Meeting

The Montana Stockgrowers Association will be hosting their annual MidYear Meeting in Dillon, MT June 14-15. A highlight of this year’s event will be the two Agricultural issues briefings held on June 15 at 9:30 am and 2:30 pm at the Beaverhead County Fairgrounds.

“This is a great opportunity to engage with high ranking officials at this historic event,” said Bryan Mussard MSGA President. “Everything from natural resources to trade to environmental regulation will be discussed during these briefings. You won’t want to miss the high caliber of speakers that will be on hand to answer your questions.”

Confirmed speakers include U.S. Senator Steve Daines; Allen Rowley, U.S. Forest Service Director of Forest Management; Brian Steed U.S. Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director, Programs & Policy; Langston D. Hull, DVM, PhD USDA APHIS Director – Cattle Health Center; Alan Mikkelsen BBureauof Reclamation Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Water and Western Resource Issues. Other invitees include USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Gregg Doud and Senior advisors to the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.

Friday, June 15 also includes a parade through the streets of Dillon starting at 11:00 am and a concert that evening headlined by Nashville based band Saints and Angels, they will be joined by Brian Bonds, original guitarist for Florida Georgia Line.

To learn more about the event, visit

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

The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauded the introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act, noting this legislation would ensure animal welfare and the safety of livestock haulers. The bill was introduced last week by U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Doug Jones of Alabama. Following the introduction, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has also signed on as a cosponsor.

“We would like to thank Sens. Tester and Daines for cosponsoring this common-sense piece of legislation. The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present serious challenges for our industry and jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Bryan Mussard President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This has been a priority of the Association and an issue we have worked on relentlessly.”

Starting Oct. 1, Livestock haulers are scheduled to have to start using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track their driving times and distances. Under current rules, they would be required to turn on their ELDs after crossing out of the 150-air-mile radius from their loading point, after which they can only drive for 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour break. This 11-hour drive time with mandatory 10-hour rest would mean cattle from Montana would not make it to destinations in Nebraska and Kansas without having a mandatory rest period, this puts the animals at risk.

The TLAAS Act takes into full consideration the fact that there are living and breathing animals on the trailer that must be kept moving, and that they must get to their destination as quickly and as safely as possible.  This bill provides for more drive time for livestock haulers, as well as granting the flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during the trip without the break counting against HOS time. This bill also allows for another 150-air-mile exemption on the back end of a livestock haul to account for the wait time that occurs when unloading live animals.

MSGA met with the U.S. Department of Transportation last year to raise concerns about the effect the ELDs and the Hours of Service will have on animal husbandry. MSGA will continue to follow this legislation as it moves through the process and will work with Montana’s congressional delegation to pass this critical piece of legislation.


The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.


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

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today worked across the aisle to strengthen Montana’s #1 industry and protect clean water for rural communities.

Tester used his position as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include funding for important Montana initiatives in two recent bipartisan laws.  During a committee meeting, Tester voted in favor of both the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill and the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, sending them to the Senate floor for a final vote.

“Both of these priorities reflect the infrastructure, agriculture, and business needs of Montana,” Tester said.  “When we invest in our farmers and our infrastructure, we see big returns to Montana’s economy.  This is further proof that when Republicans and Democrats work together, good things get done.”


The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill contains the following Montana provisions:

·         $3.7 million to keep the Fort Keogh Research Lab in Miles City from closing.

·         $5.6 million for the Northern Plains Research Lab in Sidney to continue its Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.

·         $1.5 billion to keep Farm Service Agency open in farming and ranching communities.

·         $558.1 million for the USDA Rural Development Water and Wastewater Disposal loan and grant program.

·         $127.2 million for Wildlife Services to help manage and compensate producers for conflicts between natural predators and livestock.

·         $243.7 million to support State Agricultural Experiment Stations that do agricultural research.

·         $300 million for Smith-Level and Cooperative Extension, which connects land-grant institution educations and local agriculture professionals to provide expertise to farmers and consumers.

·         $425 million for a broadband pilot program aimed at improving high-speed internet services to rural America.

Tester also included important report language in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill urging the U.S. Agriculture Secretary to work with the Canadian government to resolve the unfair wheat grading practices in Canada that unfairly target Montana grain producers, as well as report language pushing the Appropriations Committee to invest more resources to expand access to high-speed internet in rural areas.


The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill contains the following Montana provisions:

·         $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact.

·         $12 million for the Crow Water Compact.

·         $4.7 million for the Fort Peck and Dry Prairie Rural Water Project.

·         $3.9 million for the Rocky Boy’s and Northcentral Montana Rural Water Project.

·         $6 million for watercraft inspection stations in the Columbia River Basin.

·         $4.8 million for the Missouri River Recovery Program.

·         $1.9 million for the Milk River Project, including St. Mary’s Diversion Dam.

·         $2.6 million for the Libby Dam.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 government bills that fund the federal government.

Source: Senator Jon Tester