MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

The Montana Stockgrowers Association had a successful trip in DC, including meeting Secretary Pruitt(L to R) Back Row: MSGA First Vice President Fred Wacker of Miles City, MSGA Second Vice President Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney, MSGA Director of Natural Resources Jay Bodner, NCBA Environmental Counsel Scott Yager. Front Row: MSGA Communications Director Kori Anderson, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, MSGA President Bryan Mussard.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Kori Anderson
406.442.3420
kori@mtbeef.org

MSGA advocates for Montana ranchers in Washington DC

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) traveled to Washington DC to meet with Montana’s Congressional Delegation and Agency officials last week. President Bryan Mussard of Dillon, Mont.; First Vice President Fred Wacker of Miles City, Mont.; and Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney, Mont. attended the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Legislative Conference April 10-12.

The MSGA officers met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, Congressman Greg Gianforte, and senior officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) were a top priority of MSGA during the trip. They spoke extensively about the need for a permanent fix for livestock haulers, and the trio presented each member of the delegation with a list of minimums to consider.

MSGA had the opportunity to meet with Senator Daines the day before he met with President Trump to discuss the tariffs on China. The Association voiced their concerns over the proposed beef tariffs and explained the effect it would have on Montana’s number one industry.

A common theme of the week was reducing burdensome regulations, it costs ranchers $12,000 a year to comply with state and federal regulations. From the EPA to Interior, it was evident there was strong support for said action. Administrator Pruitt promised to look into streamlining the record keeping system for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) after discussion with the MSGA officers.

In order to best serve the ranchers of Montana, it is a priority of MSGA to work with the Congressional Delegation and Federal Agencies to accomplish the goals set forth by the membership. To learn more about what a membership with MSGA can do for you, please visit 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.

MSGA meeting with Secretary Zinke.

MSGA meeting with U.S. Senator Jon Tester.

Forest Service Wildland Fire Suppression Costs Exceed $2 Billion

Secretary Perdue Renews Call for Congress to Fix “Fire Borrowing” Problem

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that wildland fire suppression costs for the fiscal year have exceeded $2 billion, making 2017 the most expensive year on record.  Wildfires have ravaged states in the west, Pacific Northwest, and Northern Rockies regions of the United States this summer.  As the Forest Service passed the $2 billion milestone, Perdue renewed his call for Congress to fix the way the agency’s fire suppression efforts are funded.

“Forest Service spending on fire suppression in recent years has gone from 15 percent of the budget to 55 percent – or maybe even more – which means we have to keep borrowing from funds that are intended for forest management,” Perdue said.  “We end up having to hoard all of the money that is intended for fire prevention, because we’re afraid we’re going to need it to actually fight fires.  It means we can’t do the prescribed burning, harvesting, or insect control to prevent leaving a fuel load in the forest for future fires to feed on.  That’s wrong, and that’s no way to manage the Forest Service.”

Currently, the fire suppression portion of the Forest Service budget is funded at a rolling ten-year average of appropriations, while the overall Forest Service budget has remained relatively flat.  Because the fire seasons are longer and conditions are worse, the ten-year rolling fire suppression budget average keeps rising, chewing up a greater percentage of the total Forest Service budget each year.  The agency has had to borrow from prevention programs to cover fire suppression costs.  Perdue said he would prefer that Congress treat major fires the same as other disasters and be covered by emergency funds so that prevention programs are not raided.

“We’ve got great people at the Forest Service and great procedures and processes in place,” Perdue said.  “We can have all of that – the best people, the best procedures, and the best processes – but if we don’t have a dependable funding source in place, then we’ll never get ahead of the curve on fighting fires.”

This fiscal year, Congress appropriated additional funding above the ten-year average – almost $1.6 billion total – to support Forest Service firefighting efforts, but even that amount has not been enough.  With three weeks left in the fiscal year, the Forest Service has spent all of the money Congress appropriated for fire suppression, which means the agency has borrowed from other programs within its budget to meet this year’s actual fire suppression costs.

Continuous fire activity and the extended length of the fire season is driving costs. At the peak of Western fire season, there were three times as many uncontained large fires on the landscape as compared to the five-year average, and almost three times as many personnel assigned to fires.  More than 27,000 people supported firefighting activities during peak Western fire season.  The Forest Service has been at Preparedness Level 5, the highest level, for 35 days as of September 14, 2017.  Approximately 2.2 million acres of National Forest system lands have burned in that time.

“We are breaking records in terms of dollars spent, acres of National Forest land burned, and the increased duration of fires.” said Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke.  “Our firefighters are brave men and women, who risk their own lives to protect life and property.  We must give them every opportunity to do their jobs effectively through better management of the forests in the first place.”

Both Perdue and Tooke have traveled recently to areas of the country besieged by wildfires.  Secretary Perdue visited Montana with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke near the end of August, receiving an assessment from Forest Service personnel on the ground at the Lolo Peak Fire.  Chief Tooke was in Oregon earlier in September, when he visited firefighters, communities, and local and state decision-makers.  Perdue said he wants to embrace Good Neighbor Authority, which permits contracting with states to perform watershed restoration and forest management services in National Forests.

“We are committed to working together, with federal, state, and local officials, to be good stewards of our forests,” Perdue said.  “We want to make Good Neighbor Authority more than just a slogan.  We want to make it work for our forests, so that they work for the taxpayers of America.”

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

Source: USDA

MSGA Comments on Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MSGA Applauds News of Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting

HELENA (June 22, 2017) – Today, the Montana Stockgrowers Association released the following statement in response to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s announcement that the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear is being delisted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

“The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauds the action taken by Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear,” noted Errol Rice Executive Vice President for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This has been a priority of the association for years and this is a critical first step for the State of Montana to regain management of the bear population.”

 

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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.