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 Eventbrite.com 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 pamelargriffin@gmail.com.

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 www.hail.mt.gov.

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:https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/mt/snow/waterproducts/basin/

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 mtbeef.org.

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.

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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

State Hail Insurance Staff to Hold Meetings Throughout Montana

While we are currently dealing with the fits and starts of springtime in Montana, it’s important to remember that hail season is right around the corner. Staff from the Montana Hail Insurance program will soon be visiting communities throughout Montana to sell policies and educate producers on the program.

Staff will be holding meetings in the following areas:

  • Conrad, 5/29/2018, 10:00 am-12:00 pm: Pondera County Courthouse
  • Lewistown, 5/29/2018, 5:00 pm-7:00 pm: Yogo Inn
  • Circle, 5/30/2018, 11:00 am-1:00 pm: McCone County Fairgrounds

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

An application for insurance and more details about payment options has been mailed to producers who previously purchased state hail insurance. For new policy applicants, information and applications are also available at www.hail.mt.gov. Completed forms can be emailed, mailed or faxed to the department or used as a reference when you contact the office by phone.

Contact Information:

Montana State Hail Insurance Program

P.O. Box 200201

Helena, MT 59620

Phone: (406) 444-5429

Email: agrhail@mt.gov

Toll Free: 1 (844) 515-1571

Fax: (406) 444-9422

 

The Montana State Hail Insurance program was created at the request of producers in 1917 to provide basic hail insurance coverage on any crop grown in Montana. The program is directed by a five-member board consisting of the department director, state insurance commissioner, and three producers.

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the department, visit agr.mt.gov.

Source: Montana Department of Agriculture.

Record to well-above normal snowpack primed to melt across the state of Montana.

FROM NRCS:  After a winter and spring that dropped seemingly non-stop snowfall across most of Montana, spring runoff is finally here. April started just like many of the other months so far this snow season, with abundant precipitation falling and continuing to build the mountain snowpack, according to snow survey data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Some areas in southwest Montana set new records for April precipitation (Gallatin and Madison valleys), and almost all areas except the Rocky Mountain Front and Hi-Line received near to above normal precipitation. “The crazy fact about this April was that average to well-above average precipitation fell during the first 18 days of the month; the latter half of the month was dominated by high pressure with abundant sunshine and well-above-average temperatures,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana.

Early April precipitation only continued to add to a snowpack that was well-above normal across the state, and the snowpack was record-setting in the Upper Clark Fork, Blackfoot and Clark’s Fork (Yellowstone) River basins. Peak snow water equivalent in these basins exceeded prior record years of 1975, 1997 and 2011, and occurred during the third week of the month. Many SNOTEL sites and snowcourses in these basins remain record for May 1 even though melt has already started at low to mid-elevations.

“Snowpack percentages are incredibly high for this date across the state, and in almost all river basins,” Zukiewicz said. “At some point in the spring, I stopped getting excited by the continued snowfall, and started worrying about it.”

The NRCS forecasts long-duration streamflows for water users across the state, and the May 1 – July 31 forecasts reflect the well-above normal snowpack across the state and are above to well-above average in almost all river basins. Even though the agency forecasts long-term volumes, it works closely with cooperators in the National Weather Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to provide information to them on current snowpack conditions and forecasted volumes in order to manage reservoirs and issue information to the public regarding the coming runoff.

Water managers in the state have been actively managing reservoirs in anticipation of the well-above-average runoff in some basins, and reservoirs in some systems had been dropped to near historic levels before runoff began in mid-to-late April. Since late January the Bureau of Reclamation has dropped Hungry Horse Reservoir in the Flathead River basin nearly 70 feet, and in the Sun River basin, Gibson Reservoir was dropped to close to a record low on April 1.

“Active management in the river systems with reservoirs this year has been great to see with the huge snowpack we have, but water users on non-controlled streams and rivers will be at the mercy of the weather this year with regards to snowmelt runoff,” Zukiewicz said.

Active snowmelt runoff began mid-month across the state, with low-elevation melt causing substantial increases in river and stream flows. “In many cases, the large increases in flows were from elevations below what we measure with our current monitoring network,” he said. “Valley and plains snow this year was abundant due to the below normal temperatures. When it and the low elevation mountain snowpack started to melt, it resulted in quick increases in flows in many rivers and streams.” Snowpack remains well-above normal for this date at almost all water yielding elevations, meaning that the bulk of the snow water remains to enter the rivers and streams.

The official National Weather Service flood potential forecasts across the state indicate there is significant potential for flooding along some rivers and streams this spring and summer, something that is already occurring. “Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see how fast the snowpack comes out this year, but the potential is there for big flows to occur with the amount of snow still left in the mountains,” Zukiewicz said. “A long period of sunny days with above average temperatures or a rain-on-snow event would be a game changer. A close eye should be kept on the weather forecasts this spring and summer, especially if you live in a low-lying area near a river or stream.”

Current snowpack conditions and long-term streamflow forecasts can be found in this month’s NRCS Montana Water Supply Outlook Report, which can be found at the website below after the 5th business day of the month:

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/mt/snow/waterproducts/basin/

 

Nominations open for Environmental Stewardship Award

The Montana Environmental Stewardship committee has opened nominations for their 2019 award.

The Environmental Stewardship Award Program is an opportunity to honor and showcase ranchers in the state who go the extra mile in the conservation and stewardship of their natural resources. Ranchers can be nominated for the award before June 1 at www.mtbeef.org.

Sidney, Montana rancher Jim Steinbeisser chairs the state’s Environmental Stewardship Award Program committee. The committee consists of a team of ranchers and conservation organizations who are focused on showcasing how innovative stewardship and good ranching business go hand-in-hand. He says the award program is a place to start an open, honest dialogue in ranching communities and Montana cities about how ranchers care for their land and livestock.

“Ranchers, in general, are just humble people. We don’t want to brag or pat ourselves on the back, but that’s not what this award is about,” he said. “It’s about sharing the facts of environmental stewardship and the story behind why it matters so much to us. We know it’s important to our livelihoods that we reach out to our customers and show them what we do and how we do it, and to encourage our fellow ranchers to do the same.”

The award nomination process is an opportunity for county conservation districts, water districts, local livestock associations, wildlife organizations or other local and state agencies focused on conservation and multiple land use to recognize partnerships with ranchers who help them accomplish mutual goals. Any Montana Stockgrowers Association member who is working to leave the land better for the next generation would be an ideal candidate.

For more than 25 years, the Montana Stockgrowers Association has proudly sponsored and honored ranchers across the state with the program. Today, the program is sponsored in a partnership between the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, the Montana Beef Check-Off and the World Wildlife Fund.

“The Environmental Stewardship Program has now gone far beyond encouraging fellow ranchers to improve the management of our resources,” Steinbeisser said. “We’re focused on reaching out to our customers and consumers so we can share what we do on our ranches and how we manage our resources to provide safe, healthy, sustainable food.”

Nominations can be submitted online at bit.ly/2018ESAP before June 1. The winning ranch will then have the assistance of a professional writer and photographer to capture their ranch’s story – their family’s legacy of caring for the land and livestock – to represent Montana in the regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program. The winner will be recognized at the Montana Stockgrower’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings this December.

To learn more, visit mtbeef.org, contact Kori Anderson at kori@mtbeef.org or call (406) 442-3420.

Weak Calf Syndrome

Written by Dr. Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

Newborn calves that present weak calf syndrome are those that are not able or are slow to rise, stand, or nurse.  Calves born in this condition will often die within a few days after birth.  There may be several possible reasons for weak calf syndrome.  Factors that may cause weak calf syndrome are bad weather, selenium deficiency, poor nutrition during late gestation, dystocia, cow age, and other trauma to the calf.  Weak calves must be treated or helped immediately after birth to improve their chances of survival.

Due to the atypical winter and spring, we have experienced in Montana, this may be a leading factor in weak calf syndrome this calving season.  Extreme cold and snow conditions may have caused stress to cows during gestation, which directly impacts cow immunity.  The additional stress of temperature variability in the past couple of months may have also played a role in increasing the odds of weak calf syndrome.  Providing sheltered areas to minimize the impacts of the extreme conditions may help in reducing the incidence of weak calf syndrome.

Cow nutrition also plays a large role in weak calf syndrome.  If cows were maintained on a low plane of nutrition, this could cause an increase in the incidence of weak calf syndrome in your herd.  Cows consuming a low protein (less than 10% CP) diet during the last 60 days before calving have been shown to have a greater incidence of weak calves at birth.  Additionally, a low energy diet during the last 60 days prior to calving can also increase the occurrence of weak calves.  Therefore, providing a good quality diet in the last 60 days prior to calving is crucial to minimizing weak calf syndrome in your herd.

Dystocia and other trauma to the calf also have the potential to cause weak calf syndrome.  The stress of the trauma can negatively impact calf immunity.  The additional stress can cause the calf to become hypoxic (low oxygen levels), which may cause neonatal acidosis.  If neonatal acidosis occurs, calves that do suckle are unable to absorb the needed antibodies from the colostrum.  The lack of antibodies from the cow’s colostrum may lead to additional illness as the calves age.

Selenium deficiency causes white muscle disease.  If cows are selenium deficient during gestation, calves may be born with weak muscles, which includes a weak heart, which may lead to the death of the calf soon after birth.

Very old cows and first-calf heifers may be more likely to have weak calves.  Usually, nutrition is the main factor causing weak calf syndrome in these two age groups.  Heifers require additional nutrients because they are still growing when calving for the first time and older cows may have a harder time in maintaining the extra body weight needed for calving.

Calves should nurse within an hour after birth to absorb the needed maternal antibodies from colostrum.  If a calf is born weak, the calf will need help to suckle and may require additional help to keep warm.  If a calf is dehydrated at birth, electrolytes and warm fluids may be required to help the calf rehydrate.  Presenting weak calves to your veterinarian may aid in determining the underlying cause and a plan may be prepared to minimize the occurrence of weak calves in the future.

 

Dr. Megan Van Emon is the Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at Montana State University (MSU).