Applications for Young Cattlemen’s Conference Due March 1

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the structure of the U.S. cattle industry and gain insight on the legislative process that guides our business. Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Research and Education Endowment Foundation will send one Montana delegate on this year’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC), held May 27 – June 5, 2015. Applications, due March 1, are available on the Young Stockgrowers Page.

The Young Cattlemen’s Conference is an opportunity for cattlemen and cattlewomen between the ages of 25 and 50 to visit segments of the beef industry in other parts of our nation with young ranchers from other states. Facilitated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), participants will travel with national attendees to Denver, Chicago and Washington D.C., visiting JBS Five Rivers facilities, Chicago Board of Trade and Capitol Hill.

Last year’s Montana delegate was Ryan Hughes from Dillon. “We are all dedicated to the same goal of being the best and providing the best product, whether we sell beef, promote beef, package beef, and feed or raise beef,” said Hughes, following the 2014 YCC trip. “There wasn’t one person that I met on the trip, that doesn’t love and have a huge passion for their role in our industry.”

The primary objective is to develop leadership qualities in young cattlemen and expose them to all aspects of the beef industry. The tour helps these young leaders understand all areas of our industry ranging from industry structure to issues management, from production research to marketing.

The MSGA Research and Education Endowment Foundation will ensure funding for one participant for the full cost of the tour along with travel expenses. Remaining expenses are the responsibility of the participant, who will be chosen from those who apply. Participants must be a member of Montana Stockgrowers Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

To learn more about the Young Cattlemen’s Conference and to complete an electronic application, visit the MSGA website, In addition to the form questions, two letters of reference are required to complete the application process. All applications must be complete and postmarked or received by March 1, 2015. Please mail or fax to MSGA/REEF at the following address: Montana Stockgrowers Association | Attn: REEF YCC, 420 N. California St.  Helena, MT  59601.

If you have any questions about the application process or YCC trip, please call the MSGA Office at (406) 442-3420 or e-mail

EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Changes Impacts Ranchers and Water Quality

4 orgs logos

On Friday November 14th, the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Montana Association of State Grazing Districts (MASGD), Montana CattleWomen (MCW) and the Montana Public Lands Council (MPLC), submitted comments to EPA regarding the Proposed Rule regarding the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act .

Montana has long been known as an agricultural state. Farming and Ranching contribute billions to the state’s economy as Montana’s largest business sector. In fact, there are 2.5 cattle for every Montana resident. Over 28,000 farms and ranches are in Montana today, each working every day to conserve and sustain the environment we all call home.

One of the most pressing issues for our members in 2014 has been proposed changes to the Clean Water Act from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA wants to broaden their definition of “Waters of the U.S.” which would increase their jurisdiction to regulate, not only more water, but also potentially, much of the land surrounding those waterways.

Ranchers rely on clean water for their crops and livestock and are often at the front line of maintaining and improving water quality to sustain and conserve our environment. Irrigation plays a critical role in farming and ranching in Montana, whether it is for growing forages or crops. EPA’s proposed rule could change the agency’s jurisdiction when it comes to regulating both land and water that Montana farmers and ranchers depend on for a living.

As organizations representing farmers and ranchers, who have cared for the land for many generations, we believe our members do a great job of conserving and sustaining a clean water supply, not only for their land, but also for everyone downstream, including water supplies for many wildlife and Montana communities.

Due to the complexity of the issue, there has been a large degree of confusion and uncertainty from the people directly affected by this proposed rule change. In our comments, we requested EPA to drop the proposed rule changes to the Clean Water Act. If the proposed rule cannot be dropped, we provided specific concerns and recommendations for EPA to address.

Our comments included the following:

  1. Remove the expansion of the Clean Water Act to intermittent and ephemeral non-navigable streams, which are defined as tributaries and per se jurisdictional under the proposed rule.
  2. Remove the inclusion of ditches in the definition of tributary.
  3. Remove the provision that would make isolated wetlands, ponds and other open waters per se jurisdictional if they are located within a riparian area or floodplain.
  4. The exclusions and exemptions provided under the proposed rule are unclear and too narrow to provide protections for landowners. Clarification is needed prior to moving forward with a rule.
  5. Due to inadequate input from landowners, we request the agency to immediately withdraw the Interpretive Rule that limits the Sec. 404 “normal farming, silviculture and ranching” exemption to 56 NRCS practices.
  6. The proposed rule usurps states’ rights to manage waters and land use activity. This proposed rule is an overreach that makes all waters federal, violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and the plain language of the Clean Water Act.
  7. Due to the proposed rule ambiguities and uncertainty, we request the agencies withdraw the rule.
  8. We would encourage the agencies to engage in meaningful discussions with the states to better define the areas, if there are any, that states feel are deficient in meeting water quality standards.

Montana’s water laws are very comprehensive, do a good job of regulating the quantity of water used by agriculture, and ensure that water quality remains a priority when it comes to impacts on our environment, wildlife and surrounding communities.

The EPA’s proposed actions on this rule making process are a strong reminder to ranchers and members of the agriculture community of the need to remain actively involved in the policymaking processes, working to keep state and federal agencies aware of the continual improvements taking place, so that we may continue being good stewards of our environment and resources.

Montana Stockgrowers Association encourages, you as members, to remain active in your communities, and be engaged in conversations surrounding these critical issues that affect our ability to produce food, fiber and fuel products for Montanans and a growing global population.  As this rule making process moves forward, MSGA will provide any updates as they become available.  We would also like to thank the members who provided additional comments on this very important issue.For further questions, please contact Jay Bodner at the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420. A complete copy of the comments submitted can be viewed by visiting

Seeking Applications and Nominations for Young Ag Couples Conference

young montana ranchersWe are looking for Young Stockgrowers interested in attending the 35th Annual Young Ag Couples Conference in Helena, January 21-24, 2015 at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel. Hosted by the Montana Department of Agriculture, the conference will explore contemporary issues facing family operated agri-business as well as development of leadership skills needed to survive in the cyclical economic climate of agriculture.

Montana Stockgrowers is able to nominate young ag couples to attend the conference each year. Couples selected to participate in the conference will have lodging and meal costs paid while in attendance. There will be a conference registration fee of $25 per couple.

To be eligible, couples should demonstrate leadership abilities and earn their primary living from farming, ranching, agribusiness, or other agricultural enterprises. Our age preference is 25-45 years of age. Due to funding restrictions, couples may only attend the conference once. If you have attended in the past, please let us know about your experience and nominate another young ag couple to attend.

To apply for the MSGA nomination, please submit a brief explanation of the following for you or a young ag couple you wish to nominate:

  • Description of the couple’s ag business/operation
  • Experience and educational background, community involvement, interest, hobbies, etc.
  • The couple’s vision for being leaders in the Montana agriculture community

Nominations and/or applications are due to the Montana Stockgrowers Association office no later than November 21, 2014, via mail to 420 N. California, Helena, MT  59601. Submissions may also be emailed to For more information, contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420.

Stockgrowers 130th Annual Convention Planned for Dec. 11-13 in Billings

Do not miss your chance to attend Montana’s largest ranching industry Convention and Trade Show. The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) and Montana CattleWomen invites you to join us for our 130th Annual Convention at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings, December 11-13. This year’s Convention will be bigger than ever with an extended line up of Cattlemen’s College courses and live entertainment from Wylie and the Wild West.

“2014 marks 130 years for the Montana Stockgrowers Association and we will be closing out the year in a big way,” says MSGA President, Tucker Hughes of Stanford. “We want to invite everyone to come participate in the fun, gain valuable insight from speakers from across the cattle industry, and participate in our policy meetings.”

This year’s Annual Convention will feature a great line up of speakers for the extended Cattlemen’s College. Topics covered will include fetal development, nutrition for the cowherd, health strategies for calf health, biosecurity, genetic selection for replacement animals, and hands-on workshop with reproductive technologies.

Several top speakers including Greg Hanes from US Meat Export Federation, Lois Olmstead, and a live broadcast with Northern Ag Network will highlight the agenda. Everything will wrap up on Saturday night with the Grand Finale Banquet featuring the annual live Cattle Directory auction and special entertainer, Wylie and the Wild West!

A major component of the convention is the setting of new policy and the review of past policies to guide the association through its day-to-day work. MSGA’s annual policy meetings will take place on Thursday and Friday, discussing topics in the areas of membership, land use, environment, agriculture policy, beef production and marketing.

This year has been active in several policy areas as Montana ranchers have dealt with sage grouse conservation, changes to EPA water jurisdiction, challenges for the national Beef Checkoff program structure, and Board of Livestock budget deficits. These issues, plus discussion leading up to Montana’s 2015 legislative session will be covered during the meeting.

MSGA and Montana Ford Stores have teamed up to give a Ford F-250 Super Duty truck to one lucky member who attends convention. The drawing will be held on Saturday during the Grand Finale Banquet. To be eligible for the truck drawing, you must attend convention, be a current Rancher, Stocker/Feeder or Young Stockgrower member, and fill out the truck entry form.

Other prizes to be awarded during the convention include a raffle drawing for an 8-month/200 hour lease on a 130-HP tractor and loader from Montana Massey Ferguson dealers, a John Deere Gator courtesy of Frontline Ag, and a trip to San Antonio, Texas for the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention sponsored by Northwestern Energy.

This year’s Trade Show will feature over 100 companies providing all types of products, services, and the latest technology to the cattle industry. The Trade Show is open to the public all three days during Convention until 9:00 p.m.

To learn more, please call the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420, or visit If you would like to reserve a trade show booth or sponsor part of the convention, please contact the MSGA office soon as there are limited spaces open at this time. Preregistration for attendees in currently open at a discounted price for those that register prior to December 1.

Montana Environmental Stewardship Award

Montana Stockgrowers Seeking Applications for 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award

Montana Environmental Stewardship AwardHelena, MT – Do you know a Montana rancher who is a leader in stewardship, implementing conservation practices to ensure the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of their operation? Encourage them to apply for the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award, presented by the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA).  Applications for the 2014 award are due June 30.

Each year, MSGA honors Montana ranches that exemplify environmental stewardship and demonstrate commitment toward improved sustainability within their communities. This award recognizes Montana ranchers who are at the forefront in conservation and stewardship and are willing to serve as examples for other ranchers.

“Montana ranchers are leaders in this country when it comes to being stewards of our environment and conserving the natural resources that help make Montana such a great state to live in,” said Ryan Goodman, MSGA manager of communications. “We are asking the community to get involved in helping us identify ranches that really go above and beyond when it comes to environmental stewardship and conservation in their local areas.”

2013 Montana ESAP Award Winner – LaSalle Ranch, Havre, MT. Read more in a previous post.

Ranches wishing to apply for the award and recognition are asked to complete an application packet (available at; due to the MSGA office by June 30. Nominations can be submitted by contacting the MSGA office. Ranches must be a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association to qualify for the award. A committee, which will include representatives from Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Beef Council, past Environmental Stewardship Award winners, and others invested in Montana stewardship and conservation will evaluate the applications after all applications are completed.

The ranch chosen for the award will be announced at MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings, Dec. 11-13 at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. The Montana ESAP winner will then work with MSGA staff to prepare their application for the Regional and National Award competition, which is typically due in early March of the following year.

Since 1992, Montana Stockgrowers has honored 21 state winners, ten of whom went on to win the regional award and two named national award winners. To learn more, visit, or contact Ryan Goodman at or (406) 442-3420. The Montana Environmental Stewardship Award is sponsored by MSGA’s Research and Education Endowment Foundation and funded by Montana Beef Producers with Checkoff Dollars.

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Errol Rice Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President

Montana Stockgrowers Convention draws ranching crowd to Billings

Errol Rice Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice PresidentView all Convention 2013 coverage by clicking here.

The 129th Montana Stockgrowers Association Convention and Trade Show, held at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings, December 12-14, drew record crowds from the ranching community from across the state.

The three-day convention featured a number of speakers to help ranchers learn more about available management tools, as well as outlooks on the current status of cattle markets, industry trends, environmental and wildlife issues. Members also had the opportunity to discuss and vote on resolutions that guide policy activity for the Stockgrowers Association.

Here are some of the highlights:

-Elections were held to fill three positions on the Board of Directors due to expiring terms. Wayne Slaght of Ovando was elected to represent the Western district. Lee Cornwell of Glasgow was elected to represent the Northeastern district. Jack Holden of Valier was elected to represent the North Central district. Slaght, Cornwell and Holden are all cow-calf ranchers on family operations. Heath Martinell of Dell, Mick Denowh of Sidney and Mark Harrison of Belt are the outgoing Board members.

-Lacey Sutherlin of Stevensville was elected as Chairwoman of the Young Stockgrowers. She fills the position previously held by Collin Gibbs from Miles City. Travis Brown of Sand Springs was elected as Vice-Chair. Sutherlin and Brown will represent the Young Stockgrowers on the MSGA Board of Directors.

-The 2013 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award was presented to the Leon LaSalle family of Havre. Leon is president of LaSalle Ranch, a family corporation that includes his father Robert L., his mother Jenny, and his brother Robert W, along with his wife Shannon. LaSalle Ranch is a cow/calf and yearling operation, mostly located within the boundaries of the Rocky Boys Indian reservation. Leon is also an engineering technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Havre.

-Glenna Stucky of Avon was recognized as the Ranching Woman of the Year. Glenna, who lives in Avon with her husband Earl, has dedicated years of hard work to her family, ranch, and community. Close friends describer Glenna as a “ranch woman pioneer, passing down the legacy to her kids and grandkids with grace and love.”

-Zoetis Cattlemen’s College offered attendees several great opportunities for interactive learning about the tools available to improve management and record keeping on their ranches. Oklahoma State University Livestock Economist, Dr. Darrell Peel, offered great insight into the current market situations and an outlook on what we may expect in the long-term cattle numbers.

-Montana Ford Stores continued their sponsorship to give one luck MSGA member a new Ford Super Duty pickup. This year’s winner was Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney. Steinbeisser, along with his two brothers and two cousins, owns and operates VS Inc., a diversified farm raising several cash crops, feed for their feedlot and wintering cows. His father and uncle still participate on the family operation. Steinbeisser has been involved with the family operation full-time for 30 years. Jim and his wife, May Ann, have three children: Corbin (6), Liam (5), and Claire (4).

-Attendees heard encouraging and informative messages from many speakers throughout the 3-day convention. Sarah Calhoun of White Sulphur Springs, founder of Red Ants Pants, was the featured speaker at Opening General Session. American National Cattlewomen’s Association President, Barbara Jackson was on hand for several events including the Inspirational Breakfast and the Cattlewomen’s meetings.

-Policy meetings offered opportunity for attendees to hear updates on several issues affecting ranches, environmental and agricultural policy issues in the state. Representatives from Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Department of Livestock, Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Association were on hand to provide updates and insight on current events.

Convention coverage, photos and videos can be found on the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook page or blog (

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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.
Sage Grouse Habitat Montana

Meetings Set to Discuss Draft Sage Grouse Strategy

Sage Grouse Habitat Montana(Release from Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks)

The governor-appointed Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Advisory Council will host seven public meetings later this month to examine a draft sage grouse habitat conservation strategy.

The draft strategy was developed over the past six months by the citizen-based advisory council. It details a state-led effort to address threats to the species as identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to preclude the need for listing the sage-grouse as a federally threatened or endangered species.

The strategy recommends the development of a conservation fund to support land stewardship practices beneficial to sage-grouse and a set of stipulations for state agencies to adhere to when permitting development and other activities in sage-grouse habitat. The strategy also includes recommended management practices for enhancing sage-grouse habitat.

The public meetings will be aimed at discussing and examining the strategy and taking comment on the council’s recommendations. Public meetings are scheduled for:

  • Dillon              Nov. 13; 6-8 p.m.        U of M–Western, Mathews Hall, Lewis & Clark Room
  • Billings             Nov. 18; 6-8 p.m.        FWP Region 5 Headquarters
  • Baker               Nov. 19; 1-3 p.m.        Senior Citizens Center
  • Miles City        Nov. 19; 7-9 p.m.        Miles City Community College, James P. Lucas Bldg.
  • Glasgow           Nov. 20; 6-8 p.m.        Cottonwood Inn &Suites
  • Malta               Nov. 21; 12-2 p.m.      First State Bank
  • Lewistown       Nov. 21; 6-8 p.m.        FWP Lewistown Area Office

Council members and FWP will be on hand to discuss the strategy and the information displayed. Written comment can be submitted at each public meeting.

Copies of the draft strategy and comment forms will be available online at Click “Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy.” Public comment on the draft strategy will be accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 4.

The council will provide its final recommendations to Gov. Steve Bullock in January. For more information, call 406-444-2612, or visit the FWP website at

Montana Stockgrowers Foundation Logo

Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to Donate Book Proceeds to Rancher Relief Fund

Montana Stockgrowers Foundation Logo(Helena, MT) Montana Stockgrowers Association Research, Education and Endowment Foundation (REEF) announced today that a portion of the proceeds from each copy of “Big Sky Boots: Working Seasons of a Montana Cowboy” sold through Saturday, December 14, will be donated to support the Rancher Relief Fund. Earlier this month an early season winter storm moved through the area killing tens of thousands of livestock, leaving many ranchers devastated and heartbroken.

“We at Montana Stockgrowers are deeply saddened by the news of our fellow ranchers’ losses,” said Dusty Hahn, MSGA Foundation Chairman. “As ranchers ourselves we can relate when times get hard. MSGA is eager to help our fellow ranchers in South Dakota and surrounding states.”

The South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund was established on October 8, 2013 by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry impacted by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7, 2013.

In response to the devastation, Hahn said “as Stockgrowers, we’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature, but extraordinary events such as this bring out a sense of community and compassion for fellow producers. The ranching families featured in Big Sky Boots remind us of our neighbors impacted by this storm. REEF hopes that with the sales of Big Sky Boots, we can provide some relief to those in need.”

“Big Sky Boots” is the first in a five-part Montana Family Ranching Series from the MSGA Research, Education and Endowment Foundation Program. In “Big Sky Boots” readers can journey through the ranching year and learn about the great people that take care of the land, livestock and their families. This first book focuses on the cowboys themselves; the men and the seasons.

Copies of Big Sky Boots can be purchased through the Montana Stockgrowers Association website or by contacting the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420.

Big Sky Boots Montana Family Ranching Project Coffee Table Book

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 Research, Education and Endowment Foundation of the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established to ensure the future of Montana’s cattle industry through producer and public education, and promotion of MSGA programs.

Give Black Hills logo South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund

Donate to Rancher Relief Fund & Help South Dakota Producers Devastated by October Blizzard

Give Black Hills logo South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund

Click for link to Rancher Relief Fund

In wake of the devastating October Blizzard that affected many parts of South Dakota, we at Montana Stockgrowers are deeply saddened by the news of our fellow ranchers’ losses and as ranchers ourselves we can relate when times get hard. MSGA is eager to help our fellow ranchers in South Dakota by forwarding you this information on how you can help. A designated Rancher Relief Fund has been established to benefit those affected by the storm.

BROOKINGS, S.D. – South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association established the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund Oct. 8, 2013 with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry impacted by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7, 2013.

The fund will be administered by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association for the direct benefit of the livestock producers impacted by this devastating blizzard.

To Donate

To donate to the Rancher Relief Fund visit, and search “Rancher Relief Fund” or click on this link. Donors can also mail checks to Black Hills Community Area Foundation/SD Rancher Relief Fund made out to the “Rancher Relief Fund.” Address: PO Box 231, Rapid City, 57709.

More about the sponsoring organizations

The mission of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association is to Advance and protect the interests of all cattlemen by enhancing profitability through representation, promotion and information sharing. Our vision is to be a producer-oriented organization that consumers and producers rely on for factual information to enhance a profitable business climate and promote environmental stewardship. To learn more visit, or contact Jodie Anderson at 605.945.2333.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers is a grassroots, non-profit organization of independent livestock producers dedicated to the continued success and viability of the domestic livestock industry. Since 1893 our mission has remained unchanged, “to promote and protect the South Dakota Livestock industry.” To learn more visit, or contact Silvia Christen at 605.342.0429.

The South Dakota Sheep Growers is the trade association for sheep producers of South Dakota, representing both farm flocks and range operations. We are a state member of the American Sheep Industry, the sheep industry voice involved in: meat safety, marketing, regulations through national education, communication and lobbying and legislation. We focus on lamb and fiber promotion on a state-wide basis and keeping members updated on issues affecting the sheep industry. To learn more visit, or contact, Max Matthews at 605.490.0726.