Montana Beef Council provides many benefits

Written by Kristin Larson

My last couple articles were about the timeline and planning process of the $.50 of the dollar checkoff that goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for national contractors to contract for beef promotion, education, research and producer communication.  

The other $.50 for many states stays in the state it was collected in with their qualified state beef council. Montana is one of these states. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana Beef industry. It is one of 45 state beef councils.

A 12-member board of directors guides the Montana Beef Council. Council members are appointed or elected by membership organizations as follows: Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana CattleWomen, Livestock Auction Markets, Cattle Feeders, Meat Packer/Processor, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Retailer, Dairymen, and Montana Angus Association.

I firmly believe it is important to have this grassroots board and allow Montana producers the voice to determine how their beef checkoff dollars are spent.Whenever you have grassroots input there is ownership and follow through, both extremely important factors for a program to be successful.

Our annual meeting is in September.  Contractors from across the state request checkoff dollars for projects. The board is split into committees that hear these proposals.  The committee discusses if each authorization request meets the criteria of the Act & Order and the Montana Beef Council’s mission statement.

The Montana Beef Council is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international consumer marketing programs (promotion, education, and research) thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.

Each committee decides to fund the proposals and at which level. Then the budget committee puts it all together along with in-house staff projects and brings a balanced budget to the board to discuss and approve.  This is the start of the next fiscal year and the projects they will see develop with the intent to build beef demand, educate our consumers and medical influencers, and communicate with producers about how their checkoff dollars are at work for them every day.

I know in the country there is confusion about the “Federation”.  Many think it is NCBA.  The Federation of State Beef Councils is simply a structured voice for ALL state checkoffs. The Federation does operate under the NCBA umbrella. The Federation has evolved over a number of years and provides not only efficiency in overhead costs but also provides consistent information and resources for state beef councils to utilize for design services, website creation, issues management and so much more.  The Federation also gives state producers a voice on the national level of how our beef checkoff dollars are spent.

Montana is a cow rich, people poor state so it makes sense to spend some of our dollars in other more populated areas where our dollars can be used more effectively.  That is not to say we don’t do some amazing projects and programs at the state level. We do!  We have a tremendous staff in place, who works on our behalf every day that are just as passionate about the beef industry as we are!

This being said, it was hard to do a budget this year with the uncertainty the injunction brings.  For more than 60 years, the Montana Beef Council has been building relationships and working to build beef demand.  As a producer, I ask you to please sign the consent form and continue to give Montana producers a voice and program direction of our checkoff. I believe in the value of the checkoff program and have seen so many positive things come from checkoff work it still

One of the things that excites me is this new promotional ad that is on the Beef It’s What’s For Dinner website and will be used in other areas too.  Please go listen today.  I think it will excite you too about what the checkoff is doing and working on and go sign the consent form and turn it in today!

Sign your affidavit today to retain local control over your Beef Checkoff.

Montana Running Ranchers Complete 190-mile Relay

190 miles. 29 hours 46 minutes. 12 runners. Two vans. One long night.

Those were the makings of a fun, even if exhausting, weekend for the Montana Running Ranchers. The group, consisting of ranching community members from Montana and surrounding states, recently competed at the Ragnar Relay Colorado and finished competitively among teams from across the region.

The Running Ranchers take part in a Ragnar Relay event each year to showcase beef and ranching to running communities who often have questions about agriculture, beef, and many who may have never met a rancher. Of course, the relay events are great fun with runners of all skill levels from many states across the country.

This year’s Ragnar Relay Colorado took place high in the Rocky Mountains. The start line festivities took place at Copper Mountain, where the course looped around Lake Dillion before going over Vail Pass, to Glenwood Springs and back up to Snowmass Village. There were plenty of miles and hills for the crew on the beautiful course that wound through mountain towns and ranching country.

During the event, conversations are easy to spark with vans covered in ranch brands from supporting ranches and infographics describing the significant role beef has in a healthy diet. The team shares beef jerky with runners along the course and is able to leave a positive impression of ranching and beef.

Each year, the Running Ranchers run and compete in races across Montana representing Team Beef, a program funded by the Montana Beef Council, the team’s primary sponsor, showing how beef is part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Many team members have completed half marathon, marathon and even ultramarathon distances of 50 km and 50 miles in 2017.

2017 Montana Running Rancher team members include: Heather Fryer of Hobson; Christy Gerdes of Huntley; Ryan Goodman of Parker, CO; Evelyn Halverson of Big Timber; Billie Jo Holzer of Moccasin; Cory Jassen of Belt; Dustin Ladenburger of Stratton, NE; Jessica Lundgren of Littleton, CO; Robert Majerus of White Sulphur Springs; Ian Morse of Spokane, WA; Sarah Nash of Harlowton; and Ed Rollins of Lone, OR.

The Montana Running Ranchers would like to thank area ranches and agriculture businesses who made this year’s event possible: B Bar M Ranch, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Lincoln County (NE) Feedyard, Meagher County Cattlewomen, Nash Land and Livestock, Ladenburger Farms, Indreland Angus, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Indian Creek Ranch, Follmer Ranch, Earl and Glenna Stucky, Thomas Sparks, Jim and Heather Fryer, Samuel Berg, Gilbert Majerus, Bohleen Cattle Co, Linda Grosskopf, Martin-Morse Livestock, Rance Gerdes, David Dover, Keon and Billie Jo Holzer, Mick and Earline Goettle.

To show your support for the Montana Running Ranchers, follow their running adventures on Facebook by joining the group “Montana Running Ranchers/ Team Beef Montana” or email

If you are interested in joining Team Beef Montana, contact the Montana Beef Council.

L to R: (front) Evelyn Halverson, Heather Fryer, Christy Gerdes, Jessica Lundgren, Billie Jo Holzer. (back) Ian Morse, Cory Jassen, Ryan Goodman, Sarah Nash, Ed Rollins, Robert Majerus, Dustin Ladenburger.

Injunction interrupts beef checkoff collection: Montana Beef Council will seek permission from payers

On May 2, 2016, a national organization, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Montana Great Falls Division, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, against Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). R-CALF alleges that the current administration of the federal Beef Checkoff Program in Montana violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by allowing Montana Beef Council (MBC) to use a portion of cattle producers’ assessments paid to the federal beef checkoff to fund promotional campaigns by the MBC, without first obtaining permission in advance from those producers. The Montana Beef Council is not a party in the lawsuit.

On June 21, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris granted R-CALF a preliminary injunction enjoining USDA from continuing to allow MBC to use the assessments that it is qualified to collect under the Beef Checkoff Program to fund its advertising campaigns, unless a cattle producer provides prior affirmative consent authorizing the MBC to retain a portion of the cattle producer’s assessment. As a result of this preliminary injunction, the MBC must begin forwarding all federal Beef Checkoff Program funds directly to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, absent proof that a producer has provided advance affirmative consent authorizing the MBC to retain a portion of that producer’s assessment.

The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry. It is one of 43 state beef councils. A 12-member board of directors’ guides the Montana Beef Council and those members are appointed or elected by membership organizations as follows: Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana CattleWomen, Montana Livestock Auction Market Association, Montana Cattle Feeder Association, Montana Meat Processors Association, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Dairymen, Montana Food Distributors Association and Montana Angus Association.

MBC is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state national and international consumer marketing programs thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers. This mission is accomplished through working with a variety of partners who utilize the funding to carry out beef promotion and education activities. Beef promotion partners have included the American Heart Association, Montana State University Bobcats, Montana BBQ Cook-off, Wentana, Wheat Montana and ZooMontana, to name a few.

MBC is working through the details to develop a process for this Court Order and a way for producers to provide consent.

By law, all producers selling cattle or calves, for any reason and regardless of age or sex, must pay $1-per-head to support beef promotion, research and information through the Beef Promotion and Research Act. Under the Act and the Order, the State Beef Council is legally responsible for collecting monthly assessments and collection of the assessment will continue in Montana.

As a result of the preliminary injunction, after assessments are collected from Montana beef producers, if they do not provide prior affirmative consent to the Montana Beef Council, their full assessment will be forwarded to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for general use on national programs and projects. MBC is working through the details to develop a process for this Court Order and a way for producers to provide consent. For further information, call the Montana Beef Council at (406) 656-3336 or email

Why doesn’t the beef checkoff promote “U.S. Beef” domestically?

By Chaley Harney
Executive Director, Montana Beef Council

There has been a lot of recent discussion in the media among producers about why the beef checkoff doesn’t specifically promote “U.S. beef” in its domestic advertisements and promotions. We would like to provide some information that might help checkoff investors in Montana better understand why that is.

It’s important to remember that state beef councils and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board all operate under the requirements of the Beef Act and Order – the enabling legislation under which our checkoff operates – and must remain in compliance with those documents.

The Acts states the purpose of the Beef Checkoff Program as: “…carrying out a coordinated program of promotion and research designed to strengthen the beef’ industry’s position in the marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for beef and beef products.” In the domestic market, the role is to nourish the growth of consumer demand for beef and beef products, in general, not just a particular category of beef.

The Act and Order further require all importers of live cattle, beef, and beef products to pay the equivalent of $1-per-head on those imports. Those assessments have added an average of $6.9 million per year to the national beef-checkoff budget during the last decade. And the “Guidelines for the Approval of Programs Under the Beef Promotion & Research Act” state, in Section III, that since producers and importers subject to the beef-checkoff assessment are required to contribute under the Act, “expenditures of checkoff funds should benefit the entire industry.”

The mission of the checkoff is to build demand for beef among consumers by serving as a catalyst to provide consumers with beef research, information and promotion of beef, in general – on the tenet that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” In other words, protecting general beef demand opens the door for individual producers, importers or companies to serve and promote to their favored niche markets – such as local, grass- or grain-finished, antibiotic-free, and the like – if they want more specific branding.

To maintain quality standards of the entire domestic beef supply, cattle imported to the United States, regardless of its country of origin, must meet the same USDA/Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) standards that beef produced in the U.S. must meet. Under statutory authority, APHIS and USDA/Veterinary Services monitor the health of all cattle (including semen and embryos) and beef and beef products that are imported to the U.S. Importers must meet requirements of an Import Checklist and obtain a veterinary permit for import of materials derived from cattle to ensure animal/meat health and safety.

Why Imports?

Let’s address one more topic at the very base of this that we’ve also seen bantered about in the country of late: Why do we import beef into the U.S. anyway?

To be sure, the need for imports is not as simple as the number of cattle needed to meet demand, but instead the demand for certain parts of the animal, such as lean trim, according to ag economists nationwide, including Dr. Thomas Elam, Ph.D. Lean trim is in very short supply in the U.S. because the number of beef and dairy cows and bulls being sent to market has declined significantly during the last decade, and we simply don’t produce enough lean. Over time, the United States has increased production of 50’s-percent lean and reduced production of 90’s, mostly due to economic factors.

With that, the vast majority of beef imported to the U.S. is lean trim (90+ percent) – primarily from Australia and New Zealand – to mix with 50/50 lean and fat ground beef produced in the U.S. so we can meet domestic consumer demand for lean beef. Without this, the U.S. beef supply would run far short of the lean ground beef required to meet our strong consumer demand for it. Importing lean trim to meet this need helps continue to grow domestic consumer demand for beef. Dr. Elam says that imports of lean beef actually enhance the value of the U.S. beef market and overall cattle prices and, in addition, allows U.S. cattlemen to maximize their competitive advantage of fed beef production.

Montana Ranchers Complete 200-mile Relay in Hawaii

12 runners, two vehicles and 200(ish) miles. Each year, the Montana Running Ranchers tackle this journey with a different race in the Ragnar Relay series. 2016’s race took the team to the Hawaiian Islands for a hot and windy race. Despite being short one runner, MRR succeeded and finished in the top 5% out of nearly 300 participating teams from across the country.

To run 200 miles with 11 runners, is no easy feat. Add in tropical moisture, several thousand feet of elevation climb and mid-day heat over fields of black lava rock, and the Ragnar Relay Hawaii proved to be one of the most challenging races completed in recent years for the Montana Running Ranchers.

As usual, the Running Ranchers represented Montana and their ranching communities well. Relay teams from across the country complemented the team’s vehicles (decorated with brands from supporting ranches) and upbeat spirit during the race. Of course, handing out samples of Hi-Country Beef Jerky, aided in bringing smiles to hungry, tired runners throughout the night and into the second day.

This year, the team faced a new challenge by starting at the back of the pack. Ragnar Relay staggers runners, with the slowest teams beginning at 5 a.m. and the fastest team starting at noon. The Running Ranchers were awarded a start time of 11:30 a.m., which meant they were bringing up the rear throughout most of the first third of the course. However, overnight, the team made up much time on slower teams as the course moved into steep climbs on the north side of Hawaii. By sunrise, the team was near middle of the pack and passing slower teams on a frequent basis.

Nearing the finish line, teams found themselves amidst fields of black lava rock in mid-day heat. With temperatures nearing the low-90s, the guys brought the Montana Running Ranchers to the final miles with a finish time of just over 30 hours to place 16th overall.

The journey wasn’t all about escaping early-season snow and running in the tropics for this Montana team. The Ragnar Relays offer a unique opportunity to connect with a few thousand runners and leave positive impressions about beef and ranching. Throughout the journey, several runners approach the team to ask about Team Beef jersey, ranch brands on the vans and inquire about how their food is grown. The ranchers meet vegans, vegetarians and consumers with a variety of diet choices; encounters which almost always are cordial and spark a positive feeling on a sometimes-combative topic.

This year’s team left a piece of Montana on the island after meeting a local rancher who asked to display the Team Beef Montana logo on his stock trailer. Something that will surely spark fun conversation on many future occasions.

The Montana Running Ranchers team consists primarily of ranchers from across Montana. 2016 runners include: Evelyn Halverson from Big Timber, Heather Fryer from Hobson, Christy Pletan from Harlowton, Sarah Nash from Harlowton, Christy Gerdes from Huntley, Billie Jo Holzer from Moccasin, Dustin Ladenburger from Stratton, NE, Ed Rollins from Ione, OR, Robert Majerus from White Sulphur Springs, Ian Morse from Spokane, WA and Ryan Goodman from Helena.

Many thanks go to area ranches and agriculture business supporting the Montana Running Ranchers and their advocacy work throughout the year. Premiere sponsors include: Gold – Montana Beef Council; Silver – Montana Farmers Union; Bronze – Northwest Farm Credit Services, HFM Foodservice, and Hi-Country Beef Jerky; Qualifier – Western Livestock Reporter, Meagher County CattleWomen, B Bar M Ranch, and Nash Land and Livestock; AgriBusiness – Northern Ag Network, VIP Livestock Marketing, Sunshine Apiary, Pioneer Meats, Lincoln County (NE) Feedyard, Bank of Baker, Reilly Insurance, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Heli-Works Flights Services, and Indreland Angus; Ranch Brands – Earl and Glenna Stucky, Casey Coulter, Martin-Morse Livestock, 3C Cattle Co, LJ Switzer Ranch, Public Auction Yards, Wang Ranch, Bev and Ed Fryer, Castle Mountain Ranch, Gilbert and Julie Majerus, Mike and Debbie Hammond, Thomas Sparks, Chris and Tiffanie Labbe, Suze Bohleen, Ross Hansen Ranch, Bridger Creek Ranches, Mick Goettle, and Billie Jo Holzer.

To connect with the Montana Running Ranchers, inquire about joining the team, or submit a sponsorship, visit or email Everyone can follow team members’ efforts throughout the year on Facebook by joining the “Montana Running Ranchers/ Team Beef Montana” group.

Team Photo L to R: Heather Fryer, Billie Jo Holzer, Ian Morse, Dustin Ladenburger, Ed Rollins, Christy Pletan, Robert Majerus, Sarah Nash, Evelyn Halverson, Ryan Goodman, Christy Gerdes

Team Photo L to R: Heather Fryer, Billie Jo Holzer, Ian Morse, Dustin Ladenburger, Ed Rollins, Christy Pletan, Robert Majerus, Sarah Nash, Evelyn Halverson, Ryan Goodman, Christy Gerdes

Montana Beef Council Board of Directors set plan for upcoming fiscal year

The Montana Beef Council will invest about $1.8 million into programs of beef promotion, education, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications in fiscal year 2017, which began Oct. 1. Programs approved are funded through Montana’s 50 cent in-state portion of the $1 per head beef checkoff.

In action concluding its Sept. 28-30 meeting in Billings, the MBC Board of Directors—all volunteers, including members from nearly all segments of the beef supply chain—approved checkoff funding for a total of 28 demand-building project funding requests, or proposals for checkoff funding, in the fiscal year.

“The projects that the board reviewed this year were high-caliber and made for great discussion as we determined programs that best aligned with our strategic priorities,” said Kristin Larson, Montana Beef Council president, a producer and livestock auction market partner from Sidney. “I also serve on the national Beef Promotion Operating Committee and the process for reviewing and determining projects to fund on the national level is very similar. Each representative on our Montana Beef Council board takes their responsibility very seriously and I am continually impressed with their engagement. As a producer it is exciting to be part of all the great work and programs happening on our behalf to promote our product.”

As a result of its deliberations, the board of directors approved requests from 21 different organizations that will meet the mission of protecting and increasing demand for beef and beef products. The Fiscal Year 2017 Work Plan for the Montana Beef Council includes:

Kristin Larson

Montana Beef Council President Kristin Larson (MSGA representative)

• $46,050 for in-state education programs, including health professionals, Team Beef athletes, classroom education, farm fairs, environmental stewardship pasture to plate tour and tradeshows across the state;
• $118,965 for in-state promotional programs, focusing on tradeshows, consumer radio and digital advertising, targeted consumer events in the Northeast United States, targeted U.S. beef promotion with Japanese retailers, barbecue cook-off and statewide retail and foodservice partnerships;
• $18,000 for in-state beef safety and issues management comprised of disseminating accurate information about the beef community to counter misinformation as well as the Montana beef quality assurance program;
• $34,450 for in-state producer communications, which includes producer outreach using digital and radio communication as well direct communications to producers about checkoff results;
• $281,000 for domestic consumer marketing to continue consumer outreach, digital advertising, beef safety research, nutrition research, quality research, issues management, retail support, influencer engagement and foodservice support; and
• $113,600 for foreign marketing and education in over 80 countries including Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico and many more.
Other expenses funded through the budget include $331,415 for administration, which includes insurance, office lease, equipment, office supplies, postage, telephone, Department of Livestock administration expenses, collection administration expenses, board expenses, travel and administrative staff compensation for program implementation.

The Montana Beef Council is active throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and can be found at

MBC Board

Board members. (Back row, L to R: Richard Anderson, Shane Flowers, Jim Taber, Brett Dailey, Jan Allen. Front row, L to R: Kiley Martinell, Linda Swanz, Bill Cok, Kristin Larson, Bruce Lee, Kathy Crieghton-Smith!

The Montana Beef Council is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international consumer marketing programs including promotion, education and research, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers. For more information, contact Chaley Harney at (406) 656-3336 or

Montana Ranchers Plan for 200-mile Running Event

Running Ranchers

Each year, members of the Montana ranching community lace up their shoes, load up the vans and head out for a run with beef in hand. The group goes with an intention of meeting people from outside the state who have mutual interests in healthy living, the outdoors and running.

The Montana Running Ranchers is a group of 12 members from across the state (and surrounding region) who are passionate about ranching, beef and running. They share their experiences with other runners from across the country; while spreading awareness of Montana’s ranching community and how beef can be an important part of a healthy diet.

Their annual trip involves a 200-mile Ragnar Relay where each runner completes three sections of the course (ranging from 3 to 8 miles), passing the baton to the next runner until the team reaches the finish line nearly 24 hours later. In past years, the team has participated in events located in Oregon, Colorado, Washington and California. This year, the Montana Running Ranchers will join 300 teams of 12 runners in Hawaii.

The Montana Running Ranchers are members of Team Beef, a program administered by the Montana Beef Council. Team Beef helps members “understand and believe in the nutritional benefits of lean beef and the vital role they play in physical training, being healthy and staying active,” as explained on the program website.

The annual event is an opportunity to share a positive message about Montana ranching and beef with others who already express an interest in and dedication to healthy lifestyles, proper nutrition and fitness. Each year the team walks away with numerous stories from conversations where others were able to learn something new about ranchers’ work and lifestyle.

2016 Montana Running Ranchers team members include: Heather Fryer, Hobson; Christy Gerdes; Huntley; Ryan Goodman, Helena; Evelyn Halverson, Big Timber; Billie Jo Holzer, Moccasin; Dustin Ladenburger, Stratton, NE; Robert Majerus, White Sulphur Springs; Sarah Nash, Harlowton; Christy Pletan, Harlowton; and Ed Rollins, Ione, OR. The team is still seeking two male runners to join this year’s event.

You can help support the Montana Running Ranchers as they prepare for their 2016 Ragnar Relay, which takes place October 14-15 in Hawaii. Financial contributions help to provide for race entry fees, rental vans, hotel, food, travel expenses and beef jerky samples which are passed out to other relay participants.

The team has a donation website available at For a $50 sponsorship, ranches can have their brands displayed on team vans during the race. Agribusiness sponsorships are $150 and provide opportunity to have a business name or logo placed on the vans during the race.

Contact Ryan Goodman at (406) 465-4295 or email for more information.

Local Photographer Invited to Promote Montana ranching

Modern Farmer’s Instagram account will feature Todd Klassy photographing Montana ranchers

BILLINGS, Mont. – (April 27, 2016) – Todd Klassy, farm and ranch photographer from Montana, will be the guest Instagrammer for two days, April 30 and May 1, as he shares images, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at Montana ranching. Agriculture is Montana’s number one industry and ranks second in the United States with land in farms and ranches, totaling nearly 59.8 million acres.

Modern Farmer is the authoritative resource for today’s cutting-edge food producers and consumers: the farmers, wannabe farmers, chefs and passionate home cooks who are influencing the way we eat right now, according to the company’s website. Modern Farmer sees themselves as the voice behind the food movement, delivering investigative journalism and rich photography.

In search of rich photography, Todd Klassy’s images and stories will bolster local food, cowboys and cowgirls during one of the most social events in Montana’s traditional ranching practices, branding season.

“I was invited to share a behind-the-scenes look at the Montana beef industry to help promote local products through the most prominent agriculture magazine in the country. And while my photography covers all farming and ranching, I decided to focus specifically on branding season as it showcases the true spirit of Montana’s ranchers and embodies community, camaraderie, food and real American hard work,” said Klassy.

Klassy has positioned himself as a Montana commercial photographer specializing in farm photos, cowboy photos, cowgirl photos and travel photos of Montana and the rural American west. He works with an extensive list of editorial clients ranging from Cowboys and Indians Magazine to GQ Magazine as well as commercial clients like the Montana Office of Tourism and National Geographic.

“What you will see are photos of real cowboys and cowgirls; not the kind you see in movies or on dude ranches. These are real ranchers and their families, friends and neighbors who travel great distances across the state of Montana to help brand cattle every spring,” said Klassy.

Through his guest appearance, Klassy hopes to capture the cowboy lifestyle and share that with the variety of readers and followers of Modern Farmer, while also showcasing where food comes from and how it is raised in Montana. The food at a branding is a very large component and at the end of the work day it is a treasured reward featuring homemade goods and tasty beef to satisfy the branding crew. As part of the project, Klassy will also integrate the food and essence of bringing everyone together for a nourishing meal.

Klassy will be featured this coming weekend, April 30 and May 1, promoting the rich western culture—the food and the people—of Montana. To follow the project, visit and

Source: Montana Beef Council

Capturing Montana’s Ranching Legacy and Celebrating Earth Day

Nominations, applications open for Environmental Stewardship Award


Montana ranchers depend on the health of their land and its resources to make a living and support their families.

That means working to protect and improve the environment just makes sense to most cattlemen, Sidney, Montana rancher Jim Steinbeisser says. But ranchers often think of it as ‘good business,’ rather than a particular brand of ‘environmental stewardship.’

Jim Steinbeisser

Steinbeisser chairs the state’s Environmental Stewardship Award Program task force, a program focused on showcasing how innovative stewardship and good business go hand-in-hand to support the state’s top business. He says the award program is also a place to start an open, honest dialogue in ranching communities and Montana cities about how ranchers care for their land and livestock.

“The Environmental Stewardship Program has now gone far beyond encouraging fellow ranchers to improve the management of our resources,” Steinbeisser said. “Now we want to focus 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, environmentally friendly food.”

Each year, the Environmental Stewardship Award honors Montana ranchers dedicated to going the extra mile in the conservation, preservation and enhancement of the natural resources of their land. Ranches can be nominated or apply for the award before June 1.

In short, Steinbeisser says, the award celebrates ranchers who have a story to tell about caring for their land and livestock.

2016 Winners, Lon and Vicki Reukaf

That includes a pretty wide range of potential nominees, he adds. Any rancher who is actively working to leave the land better for the next generation would be an ideal candidate.

“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 says. “It’s about sharing the facts about environmental stewardship and the story behind why it matters so much to us. We know it’s imperative for 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.”

Winners of the Environmental Stewardship Award are often honored for their innovative grazing practices, a focus on water quality and range monitoring, working to enhance fish and wildlife habitat, riparian restoration, native plant restoration, erosion control, cooperative partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, improving cow production while lowering input costs or hosting education tours or other outreach from the ranch.

“These may be things you’ve been doing for decades, or building on for generations. Or, maybe you’re implementing new, innovative ideas to turn a piece of land around or protect yourself from natural disaster,” Steinbeisser says.

The award nomination process is a good opportunity for county conservation districts, water districts, 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.

The award is sponsored in a partnership between the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Beef Council and beef producers with Check-off dollars, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Nominations and applications can be submitted online at 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 use in promotional materials and to represent Montana in the regional Environmental Stewardship Award competition. The winner will be recognized at the Montana Stockgrower’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings this December.

To learn more, visit, or contact Kori Anderson at or call (406) 603-4024.

Pictured above is Jim Steinbeisser, MSGA Board member and Chair of the Environmental Stewardship Task Force. Also pictured is the 2016 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award winners Lon and Vicki Reukauf of the Cherry Creek Ranch near Terry, Montana.

Decisions for Spending Beef Dollars | Checkoff Chat

Montana Beef CouncilQ: Who decides how to spend the checkoff dollars in Montana?

A: The Montana Beef Council Board of Directors administers the beef checkoff program in Montana. There is cross-industry representation on the board which allows for dynamic insight and collaborative goals. The board meets throughout the year to stay up-to-date and each September the board specifically meets to evaluate projects from the current fiscal year and hear funding requests from outside contractors seeking to promote beef or educate others about beef. Through a committee process, recommendations are then made to the full board on the various funding requests and the board collectively approves a comprehensive budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on October 1. The Montana Beef Council is always seeking new and innovative ideas for beef promotion, education and research and welcomes new proposals.

Meet the current board of directors on the Montana Beef Council website.

Checkoff Chat Montana Beef CouncilRead more about the Beef Checkoff Programs in our Checkoff Chat Series with the Montana Beef Council. Click here to submit your own questions to be answered in future posts.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program ( was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the $1 and forward the other 50 cents to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. The Montana Beef Council was created in 1954 by cattlemen as a marketing organization for the Montana beef industry and is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international beef promotion, research and education, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers.