MSGA Applauds Introduction of Legislation Addressing Hours of Service Changes for Livestock Haulers

The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauded the introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act, noting this legislation would ensure animal welfare and the safety of livestock haulers. The bill was introduced last week by U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Doug Jones of Alabama. Following the introduction, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has also signed on as a cosponsor.

“We would like to thank Sens. Tester and Daines for cosponsoring this common-sense piece of legislation. The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present serious challenges for our industry and jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Bryan Mussard President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This has been a priority of the Association and an issue we have worked on relentlessly.”

Starting Oct. 1, Livestock haulers are scheduled to have to start using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track their driving times and distances. Under current rules, they would be required to turn on their ELDs after crossing out of the 150-air-mile radius from their loading point, after which they can only drive for 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour break. This 11-hour drive time with mandatory 10-hour rest would mean cattle from Montana would not make it to destinations in Nebraska and Kansas without having a mandatory rest period, this puts the animals at risk.

The TLAAS Act takes into full consideration the fact that there are living and breathing animals on the trailer that must be kept moving, and that they must get to their destination as quickly and as safely as possible.  This bill provides for more drive time for livestock haulers, as well as granting the flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during the trip without the break counting against HOS time. This bill also allows for another 150-air-mile exemption on the back end of a livestock haul to account for the wait time that occurs when unloading live animals.

MSGA met with the U.S. Department of Transportation last year to raise concerns about the effect the ELDs and the Hours of Service will have on animal husbandry. MSGA will continue to follow this legislation as it moves through the process and will work with Montana’s congressional delegation to pass this critical piece of legislation.

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The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Tester Works Across the Aisle to Strengthen Montana’s #1 Industry, Protect Clean Water

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today worked across the aisle to strengthen Montana’s #1 industry and protect clean water for rural communities.

Tester used his position as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include funding for important Montana initiatives in two recent bipartisan laws.  During a committee meeting, Tester voted in favor of both the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill and the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, sending them to the Senate floor for a final vote.

“Both of these priorities reflect the infrastructure, agriculture, and business needs of Montana,” Tester said.  “When we invest in our farmers and our infrastructure, we see big returns to Montana’s economy.  This is further proof that when Republicans and Democrats work together, good things get done.”

 

The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill contains the following Montana provisions:

·         $3.7 million to keep the Fort Keogh Research Lab in Miles City from closing.

·         $5.6 million for the Northern Plains Research Lab in Sidney to continue its Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.

·         $1.5 billion to keep Farm Service Agency open in farming and ranching communities.

·         $558.1 million for the USDA Rural Development Water and Wastewater Disposal loan and grant program.

·         $127.2 million for Wildlife Services to help manage and compensate producers for conflicts between natural predators and livestock.

·         $243.7 million to support State Agricultural Experiment Stations that do agricultural research.

·         $300 million for Smith-Level and Cooperative Extension, which connects land-grant institution educations and local agriculture professionals to provide expertise to farmers and consumers.

·         $425 million for a broadband pilot program aimed at improving high-speed internet services to rural America.

Tester also included important report language in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill urging the U.S. Agriculture Secretary to work with the Canadian government to resolve the unfair wheat grading practices in Canada that unfairly target Montana grain producers, as well as report language pushing the Appropriations Committee to invest more resources to expand access to high-speed internet in rural areas.

 

The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill contains the following Montana provisions:

·         $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact.

·         $12 million for the Crow Water Compact.

·         $4.7 million for the Fort Peck and Dry Prairie Rural Water Project.

·         $3.9 million for the Rocky Boy’s and Northcentral Montana Rural Water Project.

·         $6 million for watercraft inspection stations in the Columbia River Basin.

·         $4.8 million for the Missouri River Recovery Program.

·         $1.9 million for the Milk River Project, including St. Mary’s Diversion Dam.

·         $2.6 million for the Libby Dam.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 government bills that fund the federal government.

Source: Senator Jon Tester

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.

Tester to Washington: Cut the Crap

Senator Cosponsors Bill to Stop Federal Government from Regulating Cow Pies

 

(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that will stop the federal government from regulating cow pies.

The Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act permanently flushes a regulation that would require small family farmers and ranchers to report air emissions from animal waste to federal officials.

“It’s not just the smell coming out of Washington, this regulation is total crap,” said Tester. “Farmers and ranchers have plenty of real work to do, counting cow turds is not in the job description. This bill will bring some Montana commonsense to a place that’s totally out of touch with life in rural America.”

For nearly 40 years, family farmers and ranchers were exempted from reporting animal-caused air pollution to the government. But a recent D.C. Circuit Court threw out the ranch exemption forcing Montana producers to start reporting air emissions from their animal waste by May 1, 2018.

Tester’s bill ensures that Montana producers will not be subjected to pointless regulation by clarifying that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was never intended to apply to agriculture operations.

The FARM Act is available HERE.

Source: Senator Jon Tester

Tester announces “Trade Transparency and Public Input Act”

As trade representatives prepare for next week’s round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to provide Montanans a voice in the renegotiation of the nation’s largest trade agreement.

Tester’s Trade Transparency and Public Input Act will force the U.S. Trade Representative to create an online public comment portal to ensure that Montanans can provide their input.  Montanans export nearly $600 million in products to Canada annually through NAFTA.

 “Montanans whose livelihoods depend on this trade agreement should be able to provide their input throughout the entire process without having to jump through hoops and navigate red-tape,” Tester said.  “Every day Montana farmers and ranchers, small business owners, and manufacturers sell their goods across the Canadian border, and it is critically important that their voice is heard during these negotiations.”

 Trade officials from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are scheduled to hold their sixth round of NAFTA negotiations next week in Montreal.

Montanans who provide public comments on trade negotiations are currently required to do so through notices on the U.S. Federal Register, which are usually buried on the website, difficult to navigate, and only intermittently available.

Tester’s bill will require the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure that the portal is easily accessible and readily available to the public, like they are in Canada and Mexico.

Over 40 percent of Montana’s exports are sold to Canada, making it significantly the state’s largest trading partner.  In 2016, Montana exported $275 million worth of lentils, malt, grain, livestock, and other agriculture products to Canada.

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Montana’s total exports have grown by more than 300 percent since 2003.

Tester’s Trade Transparency and Public Input Act is available HERE.

30 Eastern Montana farmers and ranchers to get $2.5 million to offset damage from wildfire

from the Helena Independent Record:

About 30 Montana farmers and ranchers whose property was destroyed by wildfires will get $2.5 million in federal assistance to help rebuild.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sent a press release Friday announcing the money, which is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program.

“After our relentless persistence, Montana farmers will begin to see some relief from what has been a historically difficult summer,” Tester said in the release. “This is the first wave of meaningful resources that will help producers rebuild after horrific devastation. I will keep rattling cages in Washington to ensure every farmer gets what they need to rebuild.”

Montana’s congressional delegation, which also includes Republicans U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, all called for federal assitance to help offset the impact of the more than 1 million acres that have burned statewide this year. Two fires, the Lodgepole Complex that burned about 50 miles northwest of Jordan, and the Lolo Peak fire, still burning about 10 miles outside Lolo, have been approved for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that can match state spending up to 75 percent for approved firefighting costs.

Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, also announced Thursday he was seeking to fast-track additional money from FEMA.

The money Tester announced Friday can be used to assist with livestock grazing deferment, damaged fence and post removal, livestock fencing, water facility development, critical area plantings, and cover crops.

In July, Tester penned a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asking the USDA to tap into disaster assistance initiatives. He also invited Republican President Donald Trump to tour Montana fires.

Miles City, FSA offices off the chopping block for now

Senate committees pass bills with language prohibiting closure of essential agricultural facilities

The Miles City cattle research farm and county Farm Service Agency offices appear likely to stick around, with both winning language in budget bills for fiscal year 2018 that prohibit their closure.

Language in the Senate’s FY2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill nixes closing both the Fort Keogh Range and Livestock Research Laboratory in Miles City and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Idaho.

The two centers were among 17 USDA-Agricultural Research Service centers listed for closure in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal. The bill rejects closing any of them.

The Miles City unit is home to the famous Line 1 Hereford herd, which has helped lead research discoveries in beef cattle and is responsible for much of what is known about cattle genetics in the United States. The herd there is an asset that has been 75 years in the making and is not duplicated anywhere else.

The MonDak’s Congressional delegation has been unanimously opposed to cutting research centers in the past and had promised they would fight the latest attempt to target what they said is valuable research that keeps American farmers and ranchers on the cutting edge.

“Montana’s farmers and ranchers are some of our state’s most hardworking folks, and I’m doing all I can to ensure they have the support they need,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said. He is a member of the Senate’s agricultural appropriations committee.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., meanwhile, who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, said the bill also includes $2.55 billion to support agricultural research that is conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food

and Agriculture.

Hoeven also touted additional support for farmers and ranchers facing severe drought in the Midwest, including North Dakota and Montana, that was included in the bill. These provisions  include funding for transporting hay and livestock under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish program (ELAP), and a requirement to report on any backlog in drought relief programs. That part of the bill also directed USDA to consider making additional conservation acres available for emergency grazing and haying and to allocate additional staff and resources to drought-stricken areas.

“We worked hard to maintain our agriculture budget and ensure this legislation supports our farmers, ranchers and rural communities, especially in the face of such severe natural disasters,” Hoeven said. “This legislation makes additional support available to areas struggling with drought, including funding to help move hay and livestock. In addition we maintained a robust safety net, while also making strong investments in farm service programs, agricultural research and rural development programs to help make our agricultural communities strong and vibrant.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., touted amendments to strengthen the ban on Brazilian beef imports and to force the nomination of a USDA Rural Development Undersecretary in the 2018 Agriculture Bill. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue had sought to eliminate the position.

“During times of drought and market uncertainty, it is critical that Montana family farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to protect their bottom line,” Tester said. “This important bill invests in agriculture research, protects FSA jobs, improves water infrastructure and ensures rural America has an advocate at USDA. Republicans and Democrats support this bill because folks worked together to address the needs of rural families and rural communities.”

Funding for rural water and wastewater infrastructure development was also included in the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, along with $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact ratified by Congress last fall.

“Montana’s rural water projects are vital to families, businesses and family farms and ranches across the state, and they create good-paying jobs,” Tester said. “The water infrastructure investments secured today will help close that funding gap and provide folks with additional certainty. Reliable access to clean water is essential for every Montanan.”

The bill also:

• Rejects proposed cuts to crop insurance and other farm bill programs

• Prohibits closing county Farm Service Agency offices and provides $1.2 billion for the FSA, a significant increase over what Trump had proposed.

• Includes language prohibiting any federal funds from being used to obstruct industrial hemp pilot projects, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, so long as they are being cultivated in accordance with the respective state’s laws

• Provides $375 million for the Agriculture and Food Research initiative, $244 million for the Hatch Act formula that funds research at state agriculture experiment stations and $300 million for Sith-Lever programs that support overall extension service activities

• Urges the Food and Drug Administration to collaborate with federal agencies on the opioid epidemic and prepare guidelines to ensure that only the lowest effective dose is prescribed

• Includes funding to continue Hoeven’s Agriculture Risk Coverage pilot program that allows an alternate calculation method for crop payments if National Agricultural Statistics Service data is insufficient

• Maintains funding for the Water Bank initiative, which compensates farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year voluntary conservation agreements.

• Directs the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service to work with local, state and federal agencies on managing brucellosis and other zoonotic disease outbreaks in animals and humans and directs funding to advance research into vaccines and other tools to counter the disease

• Maintains fiscal year 2017 funding levels for USDA Rural Development programs including $12.5 billion for loans, $394 million for grants and $18 million for the Circuit Rider program in Rural Water and Waste Programs; $6.94 billion rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans and $30 million in broadband grants.

• Urges the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Commerce to prioritize unfair wheat grading practices in trade negotiations with Canada

• Provides funding for the U.S. Wheat Barley Scab Initiative to help fight the disease that causes vomitoxin contamination in small grains

• Appropriates $2.75 million for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas program, which helps find work opportunities for veterans through the Armed to Farm program

• Includes research grants and extension services for Montana’s seven tribal colleges

• Directs USDA to disclose costs associated with analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Source:  Renée Jean of the Williston Herald

Tester Secures Major Investments, Advances Montana Priorities in Critical Funding Bills

(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, advanced Montana priorities and secured major investments in two critical funding bills.

Tester successfully included amendments to strengthen the ban on Brazilian beef imports and to force the nomination of a USDA Rural Development Undersecretary in the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  Tester’s amendments will require USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to report to Congress on specific provisions regarding the Brazilian beef ban and to restore the position of USDA Rural Development Undersecretary, which Perdue has attempted to eliminate.

“During times of drought and market uncertainty, it is critical that Montana family farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to protect their bottom line,” Tester said.  “This important bill invests in agriculture research, protects critical FSA jobs, improves water infrastructure, and ensures rural America has an advocate at USDA.  Republicans and Democrats support this bill because folks worked together to address the needs of rural families and rural communities.”

 Tester also secured critical water and wastewater infrastructure investments in the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.  Tester helped include additional funding for each of Montana’s rural water infrastructure projects and delivered the first-ever federal funding for the Blackfeet Water Compact, which was ratified by Congress last fall.

“Montana’s rural water projects are vital to families, businesses, and family farms and ranches across the state and they create good-paying jobs,” Tester added.  “The water infrastructure investments secured today will help close that funding gap and provide folks with additional certainty.  Reliable access to clean water is essential for every Montanan.”

 Tester worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass both the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which funds the Department of Agriculture and other ag initiatives, as well as the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which funds initiatives within the Energy and Interior Departments.

In addition to his amendments, Tester successfully pushed for and secured the following investments and provisions in the must-pass funding bills:

2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

  • Fully funds the Fort Keogh Research Laboratory in Miles City.  The President’s proposed USDA budget attempted to shut down the lab.
  • $1.2 billion for the Farm Service Agency, a significant increase over the President’s proposed budget, which would have cut funding for the offices that assist local farmers and ranchers.
  • $550 million for USDA Rural Development water and wastewater infrastructure.  The President’s proposed USDA budget provided $0 for rural water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Language urging Secretary Perdue to work closely with the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to prioritize a solution regarding unfair Canadian wheat grading practices.

 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

  • $48 million in additional funding for construction of ongoing rural water projects in the west.
  • $4.8 million for construction on the Rocky Boy’s-North Central Montana Rural Water System, which supplies water to communities, farmers, and ranchers in northcentral Montana.
  • $6 million for construction on the Fort Peck-Dry Prairie Rural Water System, which supplies water to communities, farmers, and ranchers in northeast Montana.
  • $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact, which is the first time the account has received federal funding.
  • Language that bars the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation from reallocating funding from the Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam.

 

The Agriculture and Energy and Water Appropriations Bills are two of the 12 annual must-pass government funding bills.  Both bills were passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee today and will now await a final vote on the Senate floor.

At Tester’s Urging, USDA Halts Importation of Brazilian Beef

Montana Producers Praise Tester for Protecting Consumers from Tainted Meat

 

(U.S. Senate)– Following Senator Tester’s repeated calls for a ban, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a suspension of all imports of Brazilian beef until safety concerns are addressed.

 

“I’m glad to see USDA has listened to our multiple demands to protect American consumers and producers across Montana,” Tester said. “This is a major win for Montana ranchers and American families. Montanans raise the best beef in the world and the government shouldn’t be undercutting them by importing unsafe, even rotten products from foreign countries.” 

 

Tester has repeatedly called on USDA to halt importation of beef from Brazil, going so far as to introduce legislation to ban Brazilian beef for 120 days until safety concerns could be addressed.

 

Yesterday, Tester called on Secretary Purdue to halt imports after five Brazilian meat-packing plants were removed from the exporter list.

 

Tester questioned Secretary Perdue about the importation of Brazilian beef in an Agriculture Appropriations hearing this month.  He also raised this issue with the Secretary face-to-face during his confirmation process.

 

Montana producers thanked Tester for his leadership on this issue.

 

“We would like to thank Senator Tester for taking the lead on this issue. The safety of our nation’s food supply is imperative to both Montana’s ranchers and consumers,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

 

“The Montana Farmers Union would like to thank Senator Tester for his efforts to protect Montana ranchers and Montana consumers and applauds the USDA’s decision to halt beef imports from Brazil,” said Alan Merrill, President of the Montana Farmers Union.

 

“USCA appreciates the work done by Senator Tester and his staff in reaching today’s announcement on the ban of Brazilian beef imports to the U.S.,” said Leo McDonnell of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.  “Senator Tester is a longtime advocate for the U.S. cattle industry and has taken the lead on this issue by providing a strong voice for producers in D.C. The Senator’s repeated calls for action by USDA have been answered and USCA appreciates his commitment seeing this ban through.”

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.