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.

 

###

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.

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Support the Development of Rural Community Facilities

From USDA: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is seeking applications for technical assistance and training grants in the Community Facilities program.

“Too often, rural community organizations lack the technical expertise they need to access federal dollars,” Perdue said. “These technical assistance and training grants will help rural organizations overcome hurdles that prevent them from fully utilizing the Community Facilities Program. Increased access to federal funding will help build essential community facilities, and will allow rural areas to thrive.”

The grants are being provided through the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Grant Program. Congress authorized this new program in the 2014 Farm Bill to help rural communities develop their applications for Community Facilities loans and grants.

Communities can use the grants to hire specialized personnel, pay for feasibility studies, retain consultants to prepare financial assistance applications and identify and plan for long-term community facilities needs.

Providing technical assistance will help more rural communities qualify for loans and grants. Many often lack access to specialized personnel who complete financial and environmental analyses, for example. These analyses often must be included in applications for USDA loans and grants.

Public bodies, non-profit organizations and Federally-recognized Tribes are eligible to apply for this funding. The maximum grant is $150,000.

Interested applicants may find more information about this program on page 23525 of the May 23, 2017, Federal Register.

Community Facilities programs help underserved rural communities develop essential community services, which in turn helps attract investments, create and retain jobs and businesses, and retain residents.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA Certifies Another Rural Business Investment Fund

Fund to Help Capitalize Small Rural Businesses

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2017 – Acting Deputy Under Secretary Roger Glendenning today announced that USDA has certified the Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV LP as an investment pool for small and startup rural businesses.

“This certification is another tool USDA provides to help rural businesses, to create jobs and to attract private-sector capital to rural communities,” Glendenning said. “Geography should not be a barrier to economic success. This pool will offer rural business owners the same access to capital as their counterparts in metropolitan areas.”

The fund will support 30 to 45 companies that have the potential to generate more than $200 million in economic activity and create 600 jobs. It will provide capital for high-growth companies in the biosciences, technology and agricultural technology industries. The fund is the second USDA has certified under the Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). RBIP funds support USDA’s strategy for rural economic growth.

For a fund to receive USDA certification, its managers must demonstrate that they have venture capital experience and that they have successfully worked with community development organizations.

The Ag Innovation Fund is being managed by Innova Memphis RBIC, LLC. Innova has three other funds that are not part of the Rural Business Investment Program. Those three funds collectively have invested $20 million in 75 startup companies, attracted $90 million of outside capital and created approximately 250 jobs.

Farm Credit System members are contributing $31 million to the Ag Innovation Fund. The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of banks and lenders specifically chartered to serve agriculture and the U.S. rural economy.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Tester Announces Bill to Ban Brazilian Beef

Senator Calls for Import Ban Following the Sale of Rotten Meat

 

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced legislation to temporarily ban the importation of Brazilian beef to protect American consumers from consuming rotten meat.

 

Following news that Brazilian meatpackers have been exporting rotten beef and trying to cover it up with cancer-causing acid products, Tester’s bill will place a 120-day ban on Brazilian beef imports. A 120-day ban will provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture time to comprehensively investigate food safety threats and to determine which Brazilian beef sources put American consumers are risk.

 

“We must take decisive action to ensure no family in Montana or anywhere else in this country is exposed to the danger of deceptive Brazilian beef processors,” said Tester, who butchers his own beef on his farm near Big Sandy, Mont. “Montana producers raise the best beef in the world and are held to the highest safety standards.  We cannot allow harmful food to come into our markets and endanger our families.”

 

I applaud Senator Tester’s decisive action,” said Errol Rice Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “The safety and integrity of our beef products is important for ranchers and consumers and we cannot have this dangerous product flooding our markets.”

 

In August of last year, Tester criticized the USDA’s decision to allow Brazilian beef imports to flood America’s markets.  He expressed fears about the safety of Brazil’s product.

 

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

 

Tester Skewers Administration’s Brazilian Beef Decision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 4, 2016

 

Marneé Banks | 202.604.5521

Dave Kuntz     | 202.224.8544

Luke Jackson  | 406.702.5484

 

Tester Skewers Administration’s Brazilian Beef Decision

Senator Stands Up for Montana Agriculture Producers and Consumers

 

(Big Sandy, MT) – Senator Jon Tester called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase transparency and address safety concerns regarding the importation of Brazilian beef.

 

This week USDA announced a policy change allowing Brazil to send raw beef to the United States.  Tester sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack on behalf of Montana consumers and hard-working cattlemen and women outlining his concerns about Brazil’s food safety standards and its meat industry’s recent history of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).  Tester pushed the USDA for answers on what the Administration has done to improve the emergency response to an animal disease outbreak such as FMD.  Additionally, he called for more transparency in how this decision was made and how these food safety standards would be verified in the future.

 

“Montana cattle producers have the best beef around, and they are held to the highest food safety standards,” Tester wrote.  “We should expect no less from Brazilian producers.”

 

In light of this decision, Brazil is expected to send 60,000 tons of beef to the United States this year.

 

“Montana ranchers cannot afford to jeopardize our state’s world renowned cattle herds to possible Foot and Mouth Disease exposure as a result of USDA’s recent announcement to import fresh chilled or frozen beef from Brazil,” said Errol Rice of the Montana Stockgrowers.  “We appreciate Senator Tester’s urgent inquiry into USDA’s decision and we look forward to working together to ensure that all possible risks to FMD have been thoroughly analyzed and addressed with rigorous scientific protocol by USDA.”

 

“USDA’s announcement falls in line with the number of obligations currently directed by agreements within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the US.  The problem is that too often Brazil adheres to a “do as I say- not as I do” type of policy.  Brazil has a lengthy history of WTO violations that continue to undercut all sectors of US production agriculture.  Despite this, Brazil is the first to leverage the WTO when it works in their favor,” said Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the US Cattleman’s Association.  “Senator Tester’s letter and ongoing efforts to combat such abuses ensures that both Montana and US cattle producers will not be run roughshod over by a country that continues to fail on every level in living up to international commitments.”

 

Tester’s letter to Secretary Vilsack can be found HERE.

USDA value-added producer grant funding available

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA, Rural Development State Director John Walsh today April 8th that USDA is making up to $44 million available to farmers, ranchers and businesses to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

 “Agriculture is Montana’s largest industry and adding value to this industry’s products will only help Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and rural business owners increase economic opportunities for their families and communities” said Walsh. “The Value-Added Producer Grant program is an under-utilized program in Montana.  This program can help expand agriculture markets and deliver a higher dollar return to producers.”

Value-Added Producer Grants help eligible applicants enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products.  Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program.  These grants support planning activities, such as developing a business plan, as well as provide working capital to implement viable value-added business plans.  Grants are awarded through a national competition. The maximum grant amount for planning grants is $75,000 and $250,000 for working capital grants.  Matching resources are required.

 More information on how to apply is on page 20607 of the April 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, 2016. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due June 24, 2016. Additional information and assistance is available through the USDA Rural Development Office serving your county.

   Since 2009, USDA has awarded 1,126 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $144.7 million. USDA awarded 205 grants to beginning farmers and ranchers.

  In Montana, Poor Orphan Creamery, located in the Laurin community, received a $15,750 grant in 2014.  The working capital grant helped the sheep dairy to produce value-added hand-crafted farmstead cheeses from milk harvested from their flock of Icelandic dairy sheep.  The cheese is now sold throughout the United States and Internationally.

Congress increased funding for the Value-Added program in the 2014 Farm Bill. That law builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 180,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses.

Montana Stockgrowers Association Comments on Removal of Brucella abortus

Email Press Release Banner 2016


Montana Stockgrowers Association Comments on Removal of Brucella abortus

Helena, MT – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing updates to the select agents and toxins registration list, as required every two years by the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002. APHIS has completed its fourth biannual review and is proposing to remove certain select agents that no longer need to be regulated as select agents, Brucella abortus (brucellosis) is included in the list. The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is in support of the removal of B. abortus as a select agent that no longer needs to be regulated under this list.

MSGA and its members have significant and long-standing interest in the management of Brucella abortus, due mainly to the high rate of exposure in wildlife in and around Yellowstone National Park (YNP).  As many are aware, this disease is highly regulated in domestic cattle and bison and has broad implications for the marketing of cattle and genetics from Montana. The regulation of B. abortus by USDA APHIS has led to the implementation of strict testing and management protocols for cattle in an area surrounding YNP known as the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA).

MSGA does support the proposed removal of Brucella abortus as a select agent that no longer needs to be regulated under this list. MSGA agrees that by removing B. abortus from select agent regulations, will allow for additional research into vaccines for brucellosis.  “Our organization sees this as an essential step in the development of new or enhanced vaccines to control this disease in cattle and wildlife in the GYA,” says Gene Curry, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “The current regulations and restrictions have nearly eliminated the efforts to further vaccine research and other aspects of B. abortus control.”

Due to the extent this disease impacts our state, MSGA recommends APHIS moving forward to remove Brucella abortus from this select agents and toxin registration list.

###

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.

 

 

 

USDA Offers Help to Fire-Affected Farmers and Ranchers

United States Department of AgricultureWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds farmers and ranchers affected by the recent wildfires in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington State that USDA has programs to assist with their recovery efforts.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) can assist farmers and ranchers who lost livestock, grazing land, fences or eligible trees, bushes and vines as a result of a natural disaster. FSA administers a suite of safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program.

In addition, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Producers located in counties that received a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting.

“Wildfires have caused devastating losses for many farmers and ranchers,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “Over the past several years, wildfires have increased in severity, intensity and cost as the fire season has grown longer, and drought and increased temperatures contribute to dangerous conditions. Natural disasters such as wildfires are unavoidable, but USDA has strong safety-net programs to help producers get back on their feet.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist producers with damaged grazing land as well as farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who find themselves in emergency situations caused by natural disasters. The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial assistance to producers who agree to defer grazing on damaged land for two years. In the event that presidentially declared natural disasters, such as wildfires, lead to imminent threats to life and property, NRCS can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing conservation practices to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

“After natural disasters such as wildfires, it is critical that farmers, ranchers and forestland owners have financial and technical resources available to protect their natural resources and operations,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “Conservation practices protect the land and aid recovery, but can build the natural resource base and may help mitigate loss in future events.”

Farmers and ranchers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) should contact their crop insurance agent to discuss losses due to fire or other natural causes of loss. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator.

When wildfires destroy or severely damage residential property, Rural Development (RD) can assist with providing priority hardship application processing for single family housing. Under a disaster designation, RD can issue a priority letter for next available multi-family housing units. RD also provides low-interest loans to community facilities, water environmental programs, businesses and cooperatives and to rural utilities.

For the first time in its 110-year history, the Forest Service, part of USDA, is spending more than 50 percent of its budget to suppress the nation’s wildfires.

Today, fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s. Since 2000, at least 10 states have had their largest fires on record. This year, there have been more than 46,000 fires. Increasing development near forest boundaries also drives up costs, as more than 46 million homes and more than 70,000 communities are at risk from wildfire in the United States.

Visit https://go.usa.gov/3eDeF to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center go to http://offices.usda.gov.

–USDA Press Release

Livestock Forage Disaster Program Triggered in 15 Montana Counties

(BOZEMAN) – Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Bruce Nelson announced on Tuesday, July 14, that the 2015 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) triggered eligibility in 15 Montana counties based on the U.S. Drought Monitor report released on July 9, 2015.

LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought or fire on federally managed land. Eligible producers must own or lease grazing land physically located in a county affected by a qualifying drought during the normal grazing period for the county.

The following counties met the extreme drought (D3) criteria; qualifying producers with land in these counties will be eligible for three monthly payments: Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Pondera, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders and Silver Bow.

“Montana livestock producers who own or lease grazing land or pastureland physically located in these 15 counties should contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to begin the enrollment process,” said Nelson. “This is an important program for livestock producers affected by the drought. LFP provided almost $60 million in disaster relief to more than 4,100 Montana livestock producers for the 2012 and 2013 crop years.”

Producers must complete an application and provide supporting documentation for 2015 losses by Jan. 30, 2016.

For more information, contact your local FSA office and visit Montana FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.