Montana Stockgrowers Association secures $300 million agreement for Montana beef

(Nov 8) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Cross Four Ranch, and Chinese eCommerce retailer JD.com, today, signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to facilitate collaboration on Montana sourced beef to China as well as the potential investment in Montana.

This agreement transpired following Daines’ agricultural roundtable where Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Chinese business representatives, and Montana agricultural leaders discussed potential opportunities for expanding Montana beef exports.

“While there are details to be finalized, this MOA represents a great step in the right direction for Montana ranchers and the state of Montana,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of MSGA. “The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks, Sen. Daines for his work on expanding opportunities and access to overseas markets for Montana ranchers, particularly in lifting the ban on U.S. beef in China earlier this year. ”

The agreement is proposed for an initial three years, with a minimum commitment of $200 million in Montana beef to be imported by JD.com from MSGA members. Beef is the fastest growing sector in China and the world’s fastest growing overseas market for beef.

In addition to the $200 million proposed procurement, JD intends to invest up to another $100 million to build a brand-new processing facility in Montana to support Montana beef production.

Click HERE to read the official signing agreement. For additional information, please contact the MSGA office at 406-442-3420.

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The Montana Stock Growers Association (MSGA) is a non-profit membership organization that has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. The mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

The association works to achieve its mission by representing the members and the policy they set at the Montana Legislature and U.S. Congress, with governmental agencies, in the media, and by promoting the work of Montana’s family ranchers to the public.

Half a Million Acres Burned in Montana, Cattle Losses Limited

From Drovers:

In Montana almost a half million acres have burned this summer, with more than half of the acreage coming from one wildfire. Fortunately, cattle losses have been limited according to officials with the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 29 wildfires are currently active in Montana with the bulk of them occurring in the western region of the state, which is predominately forested public land and has fewer cattle. In all there have been 494,526 acres burned by wildfires in the Big Sky State.

The largest fire is the Lodgepole Complex fire in the eastern portion of the state. It is currently at 93% containment and has burned 270,723 acres. Most of the fire in the Lodgepole Complex are just a few hotspots and it should be put out soon, says Jay Bodner, director of natural resources for the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

“Most of the people in the Lodgepole area are starting to get a better handle on things. We did luckily see pretty minimal cow losses from the fire,” Bonder says.

There have been no major reports of cattle deaths from the fires. Some cattle were killed after being electrocuted by a power line that fell in a pasture when electric poles had burnt down. Bonder doesn’t think the death toll would be as widespread as the fires that ravaged the Southern Plains this March.

Montana still has a month or more of wildfire conditions to endure as drought stays in the state. The latest Drought Monitor released on Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center shows 11.87% of the state in the most severe rating of exceptional drought. Only 2.77% of the state is identified as not needing moisture.

Fences must be repaired in wildfire areas and hay is needed in the state as drought conditions continue. As with the wildfires in the Southern Plains there has been an outpouring of support.

Most donation efforts have been directed at the Lodgepole Complex fire victims because there were more grazing acres and cattle impacted by that fire. Garfield County Fire Foundation has received more than $600,000 in fire relief donations thus far.

“We’ve seen significant contributions come in to help livestock producers from not only Montana, but all over the United States,” Bonder says. “It is very much appreciated by everyone in the ranching community.”

The Montana Stockgrowers Foundation has been sending donations on locally to organizations like the Garfield County Fire Foundation. If fires and drought continue to impact producers in other parts of the state the Montana Stockgrowers plans to direct donations to those locations.

Donations can be made directly to Garfield County Fire Foundation by sending a check to:

  • Garfield County Bank
  • PO Box 6
  • Jordan, MT  59337 (
  • Call (406) 557-2201 for details

or send to

  • Redwater Valley Bank
  • PO Box 60, Circle, MT 59215
  • Call (406) 485-4782 for details

To make a general donation to the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation go to the following link.

MSGA Applauds News of USDA Halting Import of Fresh Brazilian Beef

Contact:  Kori Anderson
406.442.3420/406.214.5680
kori@mtbeef.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

MSGA Applauds News of USDA Halting Import of Fresh Brazilian Beef

The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauds the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today, to suspend all imports of fresh beef from Brazil due to safety concerns.

 

“We applaud the decision by USDA to put a ban on the import of Brazilian beef. International trade is an important aspect of our industry, but the safety of our nation’s food supply is imperative to both ranchers and consumers, said Errol Rice Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “We would like to thank Senator Jon Tester for taking the lead on this issue; as well as Secretary Sonny Perdue for taking swift action to initiate the ban.”

 

The USDA release can be found HERE.

 

 

Amid Tainted Beef Scandal, Tester Renews Call for Brazilian Beef Ban

Following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s removal of five Brazilian meat packing plants from its approved exporter list due to safety concerns, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is once again calling on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ban imports of Brazilian meat until safety concerns can be adequately addressed.

 “Our ranchers raise the best beef and pork products in the world,” Tester wrote.  “They adhere to extremely high safety standards and make extraordinary efforts to provide consumers with desirable and safe products.  I believe it is unwise to risk the public’s trust in domestic meat products by potentially allowing harmful imports to make it into our marketplace.”

 The Brazilian beef market was rocked by scandal in March as news reports confirmed that Brazilian meat packers were using a cancer-causing acid in their meat.  This led to several nations temporarily halting the importation of Brazilian meat.

 As a result, Tester immediately introduced a bill to ban Brazilian beef for 120 days until safety concerns could be addressed.

 Just last week, Tester questioned Secretary Perdue about the Department’s plan to inspect Brazilian beef.

 In 2015, Tester successfully blocked the importation of Brazilian beef from regions where foot-and-mouth disease was prevalent.

 Tester’s full letter to Secretary Perdue can be found HERE.

MSGA applauds news of U.S. Beef heading to China

The Montana Stockgrowers Association issued the following statement regarding the announcement that an agreement has been reached to begin shipping U.S. beef to China:

“Montana ranchers have been waiting for this day for thirteen years,” said Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President, Errol Rice. “Restored access to China’s 1.3 billion consumers will create an immense market potential for Montana ranchers.”

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is still evaluating the technical aspects of the agreement. Included below are USDA’s specific requirements for exports to China:

  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle that were born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S., cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the U.S., or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter;
  • Cattle must be traceable to the U.S. birth farm using a unique identifier, or if imported to the first place of residence or port of entry;
  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age;
  • Chilled or frozen bone-in and deboned beef products are eligible for shipment.  For a complete listing, refer to the FSIS Export Library; and
  • Carcasses, beef, and beef products must be uniquely identified and controlled up until the time of shipment.

 

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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.

Cattle industry urges against mandatory ID

From Tri-State Livestock News:

Cattle producers, veterinarians, sale barn operators and others involved in the cattle industry encouraged the federal government not to implement any kind of mandatory individual identification for feeder cattle 18 months of age and younger.

That was the message that Wayne Gerbig, Amidon, North Dakota, rancher heard at the Billings, Montana, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hearing May 24. The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association board member said that the two most important and most common messages shared during the public hearing were:

1 – USDA was encouraged to not pursue a mandatory identification program for breeding cattle or feeder cattle

2 – hot branding and the use of brand inspection and shippers permits are still viable forms of identification

“As important as it is to do our part, we don’t think they need to mandate it for all feeder cattle. We need to step back and see what’s working

— a lot of things are working. I think the view of the group, especially producers, is that there is enough opportunity with voluntary identification to meet the export demand. I felt like that was definitely the majority opinion of the producers at the meeting.” Race King, Dillon, Mont., rancher

The USDA APHIS hosted listening sessions in Oklahoma, Maryland, Tennessee, Minnesota, Denver, California and Billings to obtain public comment on the current Animal Disease Traceability system in order to determine what changes might be needed in the future.

Two upcoming meetings were recently added to the original lineup:

Omaha, Nebraska, July 18: Embassy Suites Omaha Downtown; and Fort Worth, Texas, July 20, Dallas/Fort Worth Marriott Hotel & Golf Club at Champions Circle. Producers are encouraged to attend those meetings to share their experiences and thoughts regarding a national animal identification program.

In 2012, USDA lowered the age at which sexually intact breeding cattle moving interstate required individual identification – from 24 months to 18 months of age. In this, “Phase two” USDA indicated it was interested in tracking all cattle that move interstate, including feeder cattle.

The final USDA hearing, in Billings, included an industry panel with a sale barn operator a purebred operator, a sale barn vet, and Race King, a Dillon, Montana, rancher who runs a yearling outfit.

King said his family, who operates within a designated surveillance area (DSA) in southwest Montana, began using individual electronic identification for their cattle to comply with state requirements. The DSAs exist to attempt to track breeding cattle from the areas of Montana most affected by brucellosis from wildlife – both elk and buffalo.

The Montana Stockgrowers member said the state compensates his ranch for some of the testing costs required within the DSA, and for some of the tagging costs as well. But the King Ranch has “embraced” the electronic identification program and now finds it useful for their own herd recordkeeping.

“We have made it work in our operation. We’ve adopted several ways of using the technology to make us better managers and marketers. We are now purchasing tags on our own,” he said, and added that his heifers don’t get a metal bangs tag when they are vaccinated and tattooed – the electronic identification tag takes the place of the bangs tag.

“Our premise is registered so those tag numbers are associated with our ranch.”

The Kings are involved in programs that require individual traceback identification, and that often offer premiums, but these programs are about more than just a button in the ear, he said.

“It’s not just tagging,” he said, adding that different programs call for different management strategies.

All of the benefits his ranch has experienced aside, King said he does not believe a mandatory tagging protocol for America’s feeder cattle is a good idea, and his family still utilizes hot branding and the state’s brand inspection program.

“As important as it is to do our part, we don’t think they need to mandate it for all feeder cattle. We need to step back and see what’s working – a lot of things are working. I think the view of the group, especially producers, is that there is enough opportunity for voluntary identification to meet the export demand. I felt like that was definitely the majority opinion of the producers at the meeting.”

Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President Errol Rice said his group doesn’t support a mandatory tagging requirement but would like to see USDA work in tandem with operators who are already utilizing traceback identification, or those who are interested in it, to develop some standardized government traceback protocols.

“If we do get hit with another disease outbreak, that way we’ve got a critical mass of feeder cattle that are under identification that could be made available for export markets,” said Rice. His group hopes this system would keep other countries from banning U.S. beef in the case of future disease outbreaks.

Gerbig said that he learned from other presenters that the electronic button tags have improved substantially. He said Joe Goggins, owner of the two Billings livestock auction barns and Vermilion Angus, testified that the electronic tags – in use in his purebred operation – are much less likely to fall out than earlier versions.

Goggins also explained that electronic identification would severely impede commerce during the fall run at his sale barn because, contrary to industry hopes that a truckload or a ring full of cattle could just be “swiped,” in reality each animal has to be run down a chute or individually caught in a head catch in order for the tags to be read.

There is still a good market for “source verified” cattle, although premiums are smaller than when they were newer, Gerbig said he learned in the meeting, due to more producers getting involved. He said that producers can’t just buy an electronic tag – which average around $2.50 for the basic kind – and expect a premium. He believes producers will need to get involved in a program and follow expected protocol throughout the year in order to qualify for a premium.

Read more at TSLN.com.

Chairman of CFTC to Headline Stockgrowers’ Midyear Meeting

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) has confirmed J. Christopher Giancarlo, acting Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Midyear Meeting held in Great Falls, May 30 – June 1.

“We are excited to have someone as knowledgeable and respected as Chairman Giancarlo joining us for Midyear,” noted MSGA President Bryan Mussard of Dillon, MT. “We look forward to the insight he will share with our members surrounding the recent cattle market volatility and his outlook on the futures market.”

The Midyear Meeting is one of two meetings that is held during the year to set association policy. This year’s meeting is held in conjunction with the Montana Ag Summit; hosted and co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Steve Daines. The summit will bring the nation’s agricultural leaders to Montana, including newly confirmed Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Other Midyear highlights include an update from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; policy meetings; a Tuberculosis update from Montana State Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Zaluski; and a reception held by the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation featuring music by Kyle Shobe and & the Walk ‘Em Boys.

To register or for more information visit www.mtbeef.org or call 406-442-3420.

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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.

Stockgrowers comment on announcement of U.S. beef access to China

Helena, Mont. (May 12, 2017) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association issued the following statement regarding the announcement that an agreement has been reached between the White House and China to restore U.S. beef access:

“As the second largest importer of beef, we are extremely excited that an agreement has been made to restore U.S. beef to China. Montana’s ranchers have been waiting since 2003, to ship the nation’s highest quality beef to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.” Errol Rice, Executive Vice President, Montana Stockgrowers Association.

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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.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association travels to Washington D.C. to advance national policy

From L – R: MSGA Director of Natural Resources Jay Bodner, Helena; MSGA 2nd VP Jim Steinbeisser, Sidney; Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke; MSGA 1st VP Fred Wacker, Miles City; MSGA President Bryan Mussard, Dillon; Marcia Mussard, Dillon; MT PLC Chair Vicki Olson, Malta; ANCW VP Wanda Pinnow, Baker; MSGA EVP Errol Rice, Helena

 

Helena, Mont. (April 6, 2017) – Leadership from the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Public Lands Council and the Montana Cattlewomen were in Washington, D.C. March 28th – 30th. They met with cabinet members of the Trump Administration, lawmakers and agency officials on issues important to the Montana ranching sector, including public lands grazing, sage grouse, beef checkoff legislation, environmental regulations, trade and taxes.

 

“We have an opportunity to move on many key priorities under the new administration and this Congress.” said Bryan Mussard, MSGA President. “Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, was gracious to meet with our delegation to discuss the Interior’s land and wildlife management challenges and how ranchers can play an active role moving forward.”

 

Other highlights included a briefing with new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Ray Starling with the National Economic Council for Agriculture, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, and senior staff with the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.

 

The recent beef inspection scandal with Brazil was a hot topic and MSGA endorsed a bill by U.S. Senator Jon Tester to put a temporary ban on Brazilian beef imports until the issue is resolved. Expanding exports for U.S. beef into China is a top priority. China’s bureaucratic hurdles are preventing Montana’s ranchers from shipping the nation’s highest quality beef to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

 

Senator Tester and Senator Daines are leading efforts to urge President Trump to make U.S. beef exports a top issue during discussions with China’s President Xi Jinping. As a result, China has tentatively agreed to develop a 100-day plan to increase beef imports from the U.S.

 

For more information on the Montana Stockgrowers Association please visit www.mtbeef.org.

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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.

Sharing the common bond of conservation

Ranch nominations open for Environmental Stewardship Award Program

 

Montana’s ranchers, conservationists, wildlife biologists, water quality experts, range scientists and hunting advocates share an incredible common bond: they each love the land and care about the animals and natural resources that depend on it.

“There’s no doubt we have more in common than most of us think,” Jesse Tufte, the program officer for World Wildlife Fund’s Sustainable Ranching Initiative said. She’s especially keen on the state’s cattlemen and women who put in much of the legwork to conserve and steward the health of grasslands. “We need to learn from, listen to and understand how we can keep ranchers ranching, because they contribute so much to conservation.”

For more than 25 years, the Montana Stockgrowers Association has proudly sponsored and honored ranchers across the state with the Environmental Stewardship Award Program. Today, they partner with the Montana Beef Checkoff and conservation organizations like the World Wildlife Fund to share the full picture of the impact ranchers have with their environmental stewardship practices.

The program recognizes the role ranchers and private landowners play in the stewardship and conservation of healthy ecosystems in the state. Nominations for the award are now open.

Lon and Vicki Reukauf, from Terry, Montana, were one of seven ranches in the nation recently recognized in the award program at the National Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville. They were the 2016 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award Program honorees and 2017 Region IV winners.

“We don’t have a show place for a ranch,” Vicki said. “We’re just doing what we’ve always done to take care of the land and make sure this place is better for the next generation. We just realized that if we didn’t step forward to share our story about stewardship and conservation, someone else would tell that story for us, and it might not be accurate.”

The Environmental Stewardship Program is an opportunity to honor and showcase those ranchers who go the extra mile in the conservation, preservation and enhancement of the natural resources on their land. Ranches can be nominated for the award before May 15 at www.mtbeef.org.

The Reukauf’s Cherry Creek Ranch was recommended for the award by their Prairie County District Conservationist, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks coordinator of landowners/sportsman relations and their local Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist.

Sidney, Montana rancher Jim Steinbeisser chairs the state’s Environmental Stewardship Award Program committee. The committee consists of a team of ranchers with the Montana Stockgrowers Association who are focused on showcasing how innovative stewardship and good 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 imperative 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, 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 actively working to leave the land better for the next generation would be an ideal candidate.

“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 food while caring for the land.”

Nominations may be submitted online at www.mtbeef.org before May 15. 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 Stockgrowers Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings this December.

To learn more, visit www.mtbeef.org, or contact Kori Anderson at kori@mtbeef.org or call (406) 603-4024.

 

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Pictured above (top left) is 2016 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award and 2017 Region IV winners Lon and Vicki Reukauf of the Cherry Creek Ranch near Terry, Montana.

 

Pictured above (right) Jim Steinbeisser, Sidney, Montana rancher, Montana Environmental Stewardship Award Program committee chair and Montana Stockgrowers Foundation board member.