RANCHER RESOURCES

Emergency Disaster Resources

USDA Expands Eligibility, Enhances Benefits for Key Disaster Programs

Contact:
[email protected]

Policy changes will help more producers recover from natural disasters

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made updates to several conservation, livestock and crop disaster assistance programs to give more farmers, ranchers, and tribes the opportunity to apply for and access programs that support recovery following natural disasters.  Specifically, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) expanded eligibility and enhanced available benefits for a suite of its programs. These updates will provide critical assistance to producers who need to rebuild and recover after suffering catastrophic losses of production and infrastructure due to natural disasters.

FSA has updated the following programs: The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

“As I meet with producers across the country, I have gained a better understanding of the ways in which our programs work—and the ways in which they can be improved to better support all producers, especially those who are working to rebuild their operations after a disaster,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “This set of updates to our disaster assistance programs reflects FSA’s commitment to listening to producers and responding to their needs wherever we have the authorities to do so. We are confident that these changes will increase the both the accessibility and efficacy of our disaster assistance programs, consistent with our goal to build equity into the fabric of our work at the FSA.”

Conservation Disaster Assistance Updates

FSA updated ECP to:

  • Allow producers who lease Federally owned or managed lands, including tribal trust land, as well as State land the opportunity to participate.
  • Provide advance payments, up to 25% of the cost, for all ECP practices before the restoration is carried out, an option that was previously only available for fence repair or replacement. The cost-share payment must be spent within 60 days.

Additionally, Congress also authorized the Federal government to pay 100% of the ECP and EFRP cost for damage associated with the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico. This fire burned over 340,000 acres from April 2022 to June 2022 and was the largest wildfire in recorded history in New Mexico. ECP and EFRP cost-share assistance is typically capped at 75%.  This policy change for 100% cost-share applies only to those locations impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.

ECP and EFRP provide financial and technical assistance to restore conservation practices like fencing, damaged farmland or forests.

Livestock Disaster Assistance Updates

FSA also expanded eligible livestock under ELAP, LFP and LIP. Specifically, horses maintained on eligible grazing land are eligible for ELAP, LFP and LIP. Many family farms and ranches use their forage to raise horses to augment their other agriculture endeavors. FSA recognizes that animals maintained in a commercial agriculture operation, add value to the operation and could be available for marketing from the farm. FSA regulations have been updated to include these animals as eligible livestock

Horses and other animals that are used or intended to be used for racing and wagering remain ineligible.

Ostriches are also now eligible for LFP and ELAP. FSA is making this change because ostriches satisfy more than 50% of their net energy requirement through the consumption of growing forage grasses and legumes and are therefore considered “grazing animals”.

This change for ostriches is effective for the 2022 program year for both LFP and ELAP. ELAP requires a notice of loss to be filed with FSA within 30 days of when the loss is first apparent.  Because this deadline may have passed for 2022, FSA is extending the deadline for filing notices of loss through March 31, 2023.

LIP and ELAP reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. LFP provides benefits for grazing losses due to drought and eligible wildfires on federally managed lands.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Basic NAP coverage is equivalent to the catastrophic level risk protection plan of insurance coverage, which is based on the amount of loss that exceeds 50% of expected production at 55% of the average market price for the crop.

Previously, to be eligible for NAP coverage, a producer had to submit an application (Form CCC-471) for NAP coverage on or before the application closing date. For 2022, if a producer has a Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification (Form CCC-860) on file with FSA, it will serve as an application for basic coverage for all eligible crops having a 2022 application closing date and all NAP-related service fees for basic coverage will be waived for these producers.

FSA will notify all eligible producers who already have the CCC-860 certification form on file of their eligibility for NAP basic coverage for 2022. To potentially receive NAP assistance, producers who suffered losses due to natural disasters in 2022 should file an acreage report as well as a notice of loss with the FSA at their local Service Center.

Producers who are interested in obtaining NAP coverage for 2023 and subsequent years should also contact their local FSA county office for information on eligibility, coverage options and applying for coverage.

Reporting Losses

Producers impacted by a natural disaster should report losses and damages and file an application with their FSA county office. Timelines for reporting losses and applying for payments differ by program.

For LIP and ELAP, producers will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days. For LFP, producers must provide a completed application for payment and required supporting documentation to their FSA office within 30 calendar days after the end of the calendar year in which the grazing loss occurred.

For NAP, producers should contact their local FSA office for guidelines on submitting a notice of loss and filing an acreage certification.

More Information

The updates to these programs build on other Biden-Harris administration efforts to improve disaster assistance programs, including additional flexibility in obtaining Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) basic coverage for socially disadvantaged, beginning, limited resource and veteran farmers and ranchers.

Previous enhancement to the ELAP provide program benefits to producers of fish raised for food and other aquaculture species as well as cover above normal expenses for transporting livestock to forage and grazing acres and transport feed to livestock impacted by qualifying drought. And earlier updates to the LIP payment rates better reflect the true market value of non-adult beef, beefalo, bison and dairy animals.

Yesterday, FSA announced it would begin accepting applications for the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two and the new Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) on Jan. 23, 2023, through June 2, 2023. ERP Phase Two is designed to fill gaps in the delivery of program benefits not covered in ERP Phase One and improves equity in program delivery to underserved producers.  PARP will help address gaps in previous pandemic assistance, which was targeted at price loss or lack of market access, rather than overall revenue losses. Learn more in the Jan. 9, 2023 news release.

Additional Resources

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, contact the local USDA Service Center.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

State of Montana Resources

Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant

The Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program makes federal funds available to states, U.S. territories, Indian tribal governments, and local communities to reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings and structures insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

Emergency 310 Provisions

Emergency work may be performed without a permit if it is necessary in order to safeguard your life or property – including livestock and crops. This applies to rivers, streams, and some ditches.

Montana Disaster and Emergency Services – Situation Awareness

https://montana.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=be83aa7c0bf24fbe9006e90c70911db5

Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Office Flood Info

Commissioner Downing recommends that any person who has sustained property damage to immediately contact his or her agent to identify whether they have flood insurance coverage. Property owners who have flood insurance should promptly begin the process to file a claim.

Any person who has sustained property damage and does not have flood insurance should contact his or her county’s emergency manager so their damages can be added to the damage assessment tally. Click HERE for Local Disaster and Emergency Services Contact Information. The assessments will be tallied for all affected counties and will be used to determine whether an amendment should be sought to the disaster declaration for individual assistance.

We encourage property owners to review the more general information below to identify steps they can take to document their damages and minimize their flood losses.  Our team is ready to assist property owners if they have any questions on filing a claim with their agent or insurance company or encounter any issues when dealing with their insurance company.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Property Damage Forms

Montana has experienced extensive flooding during the week of June 12, 2022.  This flooding has resulted in extensive damage to state and county infrastructure (such as roadways and utilities) as well as extensive damage to private homes.  The State of Montana is trying collect private property damages and contact information. Please visit the link below to complete the survey.

Montana’s Department of Commerce has a Resources for Flooding Recovery page that has resources for those affected by the flooding, or for travelers in the area.

If you wish to assist those affected by the flooding please, please visit the flooding donations link below to find organizations that are assisting in the recovery.

Community Donations Resources For Flooding

Montana Department of Commerce Flood Resources

SBA DISASTER LOAN ASSISTANCE

US Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance

SBA LOAN INFORMATION

Disaster Loan Assistance

DISASTER ASSISTANCE

UNEMPLOYMENT RESOURCES FOR FLOODING VICTIMS

Unemployment Insurance

Individuals who have lost work due to flooding may be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. To file a claim online, visit MontanaWorks.gov. You can also call the Unemployment Insurance Division’s Claims Processing Center at (406) 444-2545 if you have questions.

VISIT MONTANAWORKS.GOV

Job Service Montana

Job Service Montana locations can help provide a range of resources to those out of work or seeking work due to this disaster. Individuals impacted can contact Job Service Billings at (406) 652-3080.

We encourage you to share this information with individuals you may know in the impacted areas.

To stay up-to-date, visit the Montana Department of Labor & Industry’s website and follow its Facebook page.

MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY WEBSITE

MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY FACEBOOK PAGE

USDA Resources

Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool

Learn about USDA disaster assistance programs that might be right for you by completing five simple steps.

https://www.farmers.gov/protection-recovery/disaster-tool

Disaster Programs at a Glance Brochure

https://www.farmers.gov/sites/default/files/2021-09/fsa-disasterassistance-at-a-glance-sept.-2021.pdf

USDA FSA Resources

Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP)

Provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or that is planted specifically for grazing. Learn more about LFP.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)

Provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government. Learn more about LIP.

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP)

Provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease (including cattle tick fever), adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, not covered by LFP and LIP. Learn more about ELAP.

Emergency Loan Program

Provides loans to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine by animal quarantine laws or imposed by the Secretary under the Plant Protection Act. Learn more.

Disaster Set-Aside Program

Provides producers who have existing direct loans with FSA who are unable to make the scheduled payments to move up to one full year’s payment to the end of the loan.  Assistance is available in counties, or contiguous counties, who have been designated as emergencies by the President, Secretary or FSA Administrator. Learn more.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)

Helps farmers and ranchers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and helps put in place water conservation methods during severe drought. Learn more about ECP.

Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP)

Helps owners of non-industrial private forests restore forest health damaged by natural disasters. Learn more about EFRP.

Availability of Low-Interest Physical Loss Loans for Producers Affected by Natural Disasters

Physical loss loans can help producers repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property essential to the success of the agricultural operation, including livestock losses. Examples of property commonly affected include essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees and harvested or stored crops and hay.

State: Montana

Triggering Disaster Event: Blizzard and excessive snow that occurred April 11, 2022, through April 24, 2022

Application Deadline: March 20, 2023

Primary Counties Eligible: Custer and Prairie

Contiguous Areas also EligibleMontana:  Carter, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, McCone, Powder River, Rosebud and Wibaux

More Resources
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.

USDA NRCS RESOURCES

Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters. It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance.

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/mt/programs/planning/ewpmt/

Renewable Resource Loans and Emergency Grants

Grants are available for emergency projects that pose an immediate threat to the beneficial management of a renewable resource and, if delayed, will cause substantial damage or legal liability.

Emergency Loan Program

DNRC has the authority to provide up to $10 million in emergency loan financing each biennium. The amount of each loan is limited by the applicant’s bonded debt capacity. The financial guidelines and security requirements normally required for the issuance of general obligation or revenue bonds apply. Interest rates vary with the coal severance bond rate and may be adjusted by the legislature. The term of the loan is also variable, but typically is limited to 20 years.

Loan financing will require the processes and time constraints normally associated with the incurrence of bonded indebtedness by a governmental entity.

Emergency Grant Program

Grant assistance is limited to only serious emergencies that meet program requirements. The emergency must pose an immediate threat to the beneficial management of a renewable resource, and all reasonable funding sources investigated before an emergency grant will be awarded. DNRC will award grants or loans for an emergency project that, if delayed until legislative approval can be obtained, will cause substantial damages or legal liability to the entity seeking assistance.

Typical types of projects have included:

  • dike failures,
  • emergency dam repairs, and
  • emergency repairs to municipal drinking water and wastewater systems.

Emergency grants and loans are available to:

  • counties,
  • incorporated cities and towns,
  • conservation districts,
  • irrigation districts, and
  • water and sewer districts.

Application Instructions

To initiate a request for emergency grant or loan assistance, contact the Emergency Grant Program staff. A detailed description of the problem, the proposed solution, and any financial information, including the estimated cost of the project and proposed funding sources, will be required to expedite the application process.

Emergency grants are limited to $30,000 per project. Limited funding is available for emergency grants from DNRC each biennium.

Apply for an Emergency Grant online at grants.dnrc.mt.gov

Following initial notification, a DNRC engineer will contact you and arrange for a site investigation. A determination will be made by the DNRC Director’s Office within a matter of days, and a grant or loan agreement will be executed accordingly. Grant funding is available almost immediately, usually 45 to 60 days assuming that adequate rates and charges are already in effect.

Disaster Assistance Program

The Disaster Assistance Improvement Program’s (DAIP) mission is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners.

Disaster Survivor Application Checklist

Before you start your FEMA application, please have the information below and a pen and paper ready.

  • Social Security Number
    • You, another adult member or minor child in your household must have a Social Security number. You or they must also be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
    • If you don’t have a Social Security number, read the article How do I apply for a new or replacement Social Security number card. You will get instructions on what to do and what documents you will need.
    • Once you have your number, you may come back to DisasterAssistance.gov or call FEMA at one of the phone numbers above to apply.
  • Insurance Information
    • Describe the type(s) of insurance coverage you have. This could include coverage under policies like homeowners, flood, automobile, or mobile home insurance.
  • Damage Information
    • Describe the damage caused by the disaster. Include the type of disaster (like flood, hurricane, or earthquake) and the type of dwelling or vehicle (like a condo, mobile home or house, or a car or truck).
  • Financial Information
    • Provide your total annual household income, before taxes, at the time of the disaster.
  • Contact Information
    • Provide the address and phone number of the property where the damage occurred and the address and phone number of where we can reach you now.
  • Direct Deposit Information (optional)
    • If approved, we can deposit your funds directly into your bank account. You just need to provide the following banking information:
      • Bank name
      • Type of account (like checking or savings)
      • Routing number
      • Account number

NEED HELP? If you need help with the application, please call FEMA at one of the phone numbers below.

For help with your application or to apply by phone for FEMA assistance, call:

1‑800‑621‑3362 (711 available)

If you use a video relay service, captioned phone, or other communication service, give FEMA the number for that service.

To apply for other assistance that FEMA doesn’t manage:

You must follow the instructions provided for each program. This may require going to other agency websites.

Read How do I search for assistance on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page to learn more.

UPCOMING EVENTS

While in New Orleans, we invite you and a guest to attend the Montana Stockgrowers Association social event. We look forward to having you join us and connect with friends new and old!

Thursday, February 2, 2023 | 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Hilton Riverside
Grand Salon Sections 13 & 16
Two Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Thank you Rabo AgriFinance for sponsoring the Montana Stockgrowers Social!

Public hearing scheduled for proposed amendment to rules regarding Public Access Lands Agreements

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will hold a public hearing on Feb. 10 to consider an amendment to Public Access Lands Agreements. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. and will be held through Zoom.

The Administrative Rules of Montana addressed in the proposed amendment are ARM 12.2.605, 12.2.606, 12.2.607 and 12.2.608. To review the amendment, click here:

Notice of Public Hearing in the matter of the amendment of ARM 12.2.605, 12.2.606, 12.2.607, and 12.2.608 pertaining to public access landagreements (PDF)

To join the Zoom meeting:

The deadline for public comment is Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. Comments can be emailed to [email protected] with the subject line “PALA Rules.” Comments can also be mailed to PALA Rules, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59601-0701.

Montana Board of Livestock Meeting 

The next Montana Board of Livestock meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm in the Montana Department of Livestock Conference Room #319, Scott Hart Building, 301 N. Roberts, Helena, MT. THE PUBLIC IS WELCOME TO ATTEND THIS MEETING IN PERSON, BUT ATTENDANCE WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE VIRTUALLY BY ZOOM. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE MEETING WILL BE LIVE-STREAMED ON THE BOL WEBSITE. 

The agenda will be posted to the Department of Livestock website at liv.mt.gov soon. For instructions on how to join the meeting virtually or, if you would like a printed copy of the agenda, please call 406-444-9321 or email at [email protected] 

2022-2023 Issues in Ranching Seminar Series

  • November 1, 2022 – Agriculture Labor, Immigration, and Innovation (Dr. Diane Charlton, MSU). 
    • 12:00 pm
    • Virtual option available – click here
    • RM 138 Animal Bioscience Building
    • Agricultural labor, or the lack thereof, is on everyone’s radar. Join us as Dr. Charlton speaks on the changing nature of agricultural labor markets, addresses the impact of immigration policies on seasonal labor, and discusses whether technology could compensate for the labor shortage on American farms and ranches.
  • December 6, 2022 – Developing a Ranch Internship Program (Taylre Sitz, Sitz Angus Ranch)
  • January 10, 2023 – Structured Internship Programs for Ranches (MSU Dan Scott Program, DNRC Working Lands Internship, Quivira Coalition New Agrarian Program)
  • February 7, 2023 – Veterans and Ranching – (Range 2 Range Partners)
  • March 7, 2023 – Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Professional Ranch Manager? (Dan Leahy, Foundation for Ranch Management)

All seminars offered virtually at: https://animalrange.montana.edu/danscott/

Select seminars delivered in person in RM 138, Animal Bioscience Building, MSU Campus, Bozeman. For more information contact: Rachel Frost, [email protected], 406-994-3724.

STATE/FEDERAL PROGRAMS

NRCS is Accepting Applications for the Community Agriculture Initiative

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Community Agriculture Initiative. This initiative supports the conservation efforts of Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners from small acreage to large. NRCS accepts applications year-round, but applications for the current funding cycle must be submitted by Feb. 14, 2023.

“Agricultural producers of all sizes provide local, nutritious food to their communities. Through this initiative, NRCS is prioritizing assistance to first foods efforts, farm to table projects, and many other types of community agriculture,” said Tom Watson, NRCS State Conservationist for Montana. “This includes an expanded set of conservation practices tailored to the conservation needs of small-scale ag producers.

The small acreage activities make traditional conservation practices used at a large scale more applicable to operations of all sizes. For example, some payment rates are now based on square feet rather than acres of implementation for practices like grazing management, irrigation water management, pest management, and cover crops. In addition, some new practices have been added including low tunnel management and compost or compost plus biochar in small areas.

The Community Agriculture Initiative is funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and builds on the previous high tunnel initiative. Find information about community agriculture on the NRCS Montana website at nrcs.usda.gov/montana under State Programs and Initiatives.

For more information about this initiative and how to apply, contact your local NRCS office. Get contact information at nrcs.usda.gov/contact.

2023 Livestock Per Capita Reporting

Report your livestock per capita online at https://mtrevenue.gov/livestock. After reporting, pay using your bank account (free) or credit/debit card (processing fees apply).
Reminders:

  • Your report is due March 01, 2023 and payment is due by May 31, 2023
  • You must file a return each year. Sending a check without a report will not be accepted as filing a report.
  • If you do not own livestock this year, you must file a report with zero livestock owned, so we can update our records and you will not be estimated.
  • Keep copies for your records.

Learn more about the livestock program by visiting our website.

Montana FSA Program Dates/Deadlines

USDA in Montana reminds agricultural producers of important Farm Service Agency (FSA) program dates. Contact your local service center to apply and with any questions. Visit online at farmers.gov and fsa.usda.gov.mt.

Aug. 31, 2022: Last day to bale hay on CRP for Non-emergency and Emergency Haying (requires prior approval).

Sept 30, 2022: Deadline to enroll in Continuous CRP programs, including SAFE

Oct 31, 2022: Deadline to enroll in Organic and Transitional Education Verification Program (OTECP) and Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP)

Jan 30, 2023: Deadline to request all ELAP assistance for 2022 calendar year losses.

Jan 30, 2023: Deadline to request LFP assistance for 2022 calendar year losses.

ELAP notice of loss must be filed within 30 days of when loss is apparent for livestock and farm-raised fish losses.

ELAP notice of loss must be filed within 15 days of when loss is apparent for honeybee losses.

LIP notice of loss must be filed within 30 days of when the loss is apparent.

Availability of Low-Interest Physical Loss Loans for Producers Affected by Natural Disasters

Physical loss loans can help producers repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property essential to the success of the agricultural operation, including livestock losses. Examples of property commonly affected include essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees and harvested or stored crops and hay.

State: Montana

Triggering Disaster Event: Blizzard and excessive snow that occurred April 11, 2022, through April 24, 2022

Application Deadline: March 20, 2023

Primary Counties Eligible: Custer and Prairie

Contiguous Areas also EligibleMontana:  Carter, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, McCone, Powder River, Rosebud and Wibaux

More Resources

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.

Availability of Low-Interest Physical Loss Loans for Montana Producers Affected by Natural Disasters

Physical loss loans can help producers repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property essential to the success of the agricultural operation, including livestock losses. Examples of property commonly affected include essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees and harvested or stored crops and hay.

State: Montana

Triggering Disaster Event: Wildfire that occurred July 29, 2022, and continuing

Application Deadline: April 19, 2023

Primary Counties Eligible: Flathead, Lake and Treasure

Contiguous Areas also EligibleMontana:  Big Horn, Glacier, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Pondera, Powell, Rosebud, Sanders, Teton and Yellowstone

More Resources

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.

The Montana Master Hunter Program provides advanced hunter education that increases skills, competence, ethical behavior, and knowledge of agriculture and stewardship.

One Montana (1MT) launched the Master Hunter Program to help the State of Montana and private landowners improve wildlife management efforts by restoring the cooperation between hunters, private landowners, and game managers.

Find more info at www.mtmasterhunter.com

Comprehensive Water Review

Dedicated website is live now!

A website dedicated to the Comprehensive Water Review has been launched. The site details each of the identified key challenges and provides a single place for the public to learn more about upcoming events, find information, receive updates, and submit comments or questions.

Montana Rural Employment Opportunities

Because REO believes that everyone should have the opportunity for economic independence,

  • creates employment opportunities,
  • educates individuals, families and communities,
  • advocates for the elimination of poverty.

Rural Employment Opportunities (REO) provides outreach and services in all of Montana’s 56 counties to more than 400 adults and 900 children each year as they struggle to support themselves and their families. Through REO, Montana’s agricultural workers have access to educational programs to complete their high school credentials, children’s educational programs,  job training, and college certificates or degrees.  These opportunities lead to full-time employment, improved family income, and greater economic security.

Supporting Montana Agricultural Families

REO supports agricultural workers and their families with:

  • Job search, placement and growth.
  • Employment security and wage advancement.
  • Funding for tuition, books and other related training costs

REO is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program and abides by all federal and state EOC regulations and laws.  Equal Opportunity is the law.  Program financed 100% with federal funds of $699,452 with 0% nongovernmental funds.

 

REO has operated this federal Department of Labor grant for over 30 years, serving farmworkers and their families across the state of Montana.  Through this grant, REO offers opportunities for farm workers, and/or their qualifying family members, to improve their earning capacity in agriculture or other career paths through education and training. REO staff members work closely with participants, helping them determine the best way to reach their educational and employment goals. The goal of the program is economic self-sufficiency and wages that allow workers to support and sustain their families.

Participants may choose to attend a vocational, technical, or trade school for short-term job training, work-related certification programs, college courses, or participate in an on-the-job training program or apprenticeship program. They may also work with REO for direct placement into the workforce. In addition, REO is able to support each participant with needed items for training or new employment such as tuition assistance, books, laptops, fuel vouchers, work clothing, and/or tools to help reach their goals.

We have updated our website at www.reomontana.org.  On Facebook, we have pages for “Rural Employment Opportunities”, “REO Southwest Montana”, “REO Northwest & North Central Montana”, and “REO Eastern Montana”.

USDA Working with Cooperative Development Centers to Expand Economic Opportunities for Rural Montanans

BOZEMAN, Mont., April 6, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that the department is accepting applications through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG)program to help Cooperative Development Centers improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals and businesses in the startup, expansion, or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses.

In Montana, USDA Rural Development has worked closely with Mission West Community Development Partners and the Montana Cooperative Development Center to provide funding through the RCDG program which, in turn, has been used to provide expertise and technical assistance to Montana businesses.

As a Regional Economic Development Organization, Mission West Community Development Partners provides community and economic development efforts to help businesses in Lake, Mineral and Sanders counties, as well as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, grow and prosper.

“Our Cooperative Development Center is a key part of how we’re working to support and sustainably develop the economies of rural western Montana,” noted Mission West Community Development Partners Cooperative Development Center Director, Kaylee Thornley. “Through the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program, Mission West has been able to provide technical assistance and training to 33 cooperatives in starting or expanding their business in the last two years.”

Rural Cooperative Development Grants may be used by Rural Cooperative Development Centers to fund operations such as conducting feasibility studies, developing business plans, providing leadership and operational improvement training, and facilitating strategic planning.

“As an example, through RCDG funding, Mission West assisted the Ronan Cooperative Brewery in successfully opening as Montana’s first cooperative brewery in 2020, contributing to the revitalization of Ronan’s rural Main Street,” added Thornley. “And, earlier this year, Mission West continued to assist the co-op brewery after its opening by providing technical assistance to expand its digital marketing presence to increase sales.”

The Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) works with new and existing cooperatives and other groups to evaluate cooperative business models and strategies to meet their objectives.

“Montana Cooperative Development Center has proudly received RCDG funding for several years,” stated Montana Cooperative Development Center’s Executive Director, Tracy McIntyre.  “Our work across Montana shows the vastness of how cooperatives can address community and economic needs. We are working on developing cooperatives to address critical issues facing our state, including (but not limited to) childcare, housing, food and meat processing, food distribution, and workforce conversions to employee ownership.”

MCDC is the only statewide resource for cooperative development.  With financial assistance from state and federal sources, including previous USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grants, MCDC is able to offer services at little or no cost to project groups across the state.

“MCDC also works with all existing cooperatives and supports the work of the Montana Telecommunication Association and telecommunication cooperatives on broadband adoption and deployment. And, through the Socially Disadvantaged Group Grant, which is another USDA Rural Development program, MCDC is providing technical assistance to our Indigenous communities,” McIntyre added.

To learn more about business investment resources for Montana’s rural areas, contact Montana’s Business and Cooperative Programs Director, Lad Barney, at (406) 309-3350 or [email protected]

Additional information on the required materials and how to apply for the RCDG program are available on page 19842 of the April 6, 2022, Federal Register.

If you would like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA to Provide Payments to Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought or Wildfire

New Emergency Livestock Relief benefits to be delivered through two-phased approach; compensation for 2021 forage losses

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2022 – The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that ranchers who have approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021 through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP).

“Producers of grazing livestock experienced catastrophic losses of available forage as well as higher costs for supplemental feed in 2021. Unfortunately, the conditions driving these losses have not improved for many and have even worsened for some, as drought spreads across the U.S.,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  “In order to deliver much-needed assistance as efficiently as possible, phase one of the ELRP will use certain data from the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), allowing USDA to distribute payments within days to livestock producers.”

Background 
On September 30, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43). This Act includes $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021. Additionally, the Act specifically targets $750 million to provide assistance to livestock producers for losses incurred due to drought or wildfires in calendar year 2021. ELRP is part of FSA’s implementation of the Act.

For impacted ranchers, USDA will leverage LFP data to deliver immediate relief for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021. LFP is an important tool that provides up to 60% of the estimated replacement feed cost when an eligible drought adversely impacts grazing lands or 50% of the monthly feed cost for the number of days the producer is prohibited from grazing the managed rangeland because of a qualifying wildfire.

FSA received more than 100,000 applications totaling nearly $670 million in payments to livestock producers under LFP for the 2021 program year.

Congress recognized requests for assistance beyond this existing program and provided specific funding for disaster-impacted livestock producers in 2021.

ELRP Eligibility – Phase One 

To be eligible for an ELRP payment under phase one of program delivery, livestock producers must have suffered grazing losses in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks or a D3 (extreme drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the 2021 calendar year, and have applied and been approved for 2021 LFP. Additionally, producers whose permitted grazing on federally managed lands was disallowed due to wildfire are also eligible for ELRP payments, if they applied and were approved for 2021 LFP.

As part of FSA’s efforts to streamline and simplify the delivery of ELRP phase one benefits, producers are not required to submit an application for payment; however, they must have the following forms on file with FSA within a subsequently announced deadline as determined by the Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs:

  • CCC-853, Livestock Forage Disaster Program Application
  • Form AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet.
  • Form CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan for an individual or legal entity.
  • Form CCC-901, Member Information for Legal Entities (if applicable).
  • Form FSA-510, Request for an Exception to the $125,000 Payment Limitation for Certain Programs (if applicable).
  • Form CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, if applicable, for the 2021 program year.
  • A highly erodible land conservation (sometimes referred to as HELC) and wetland conservation certification (Form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification) for the ELRP producer and applicable affiliates.

ELRP Payment Calculation – Phase One 

To further expedite payments to eligible livestock producers, determine eligibility, and calculate an ELRP phase one payment, FSA will utilize livestock inventories and drought-affected forage acreage or restricted animal units and grazing days due to wildfire already reported by the producer when they submitted a 2021 CCC-853, Livestock Forage Disaster Program Application form.

Phase one ELRP payments will be equal to the eligible livestock producer’s gross 2021 LFP calculated payment multiplied by a payment percentage, to reach a reasonable approximation of increased supplemental feed costs for eligible livestock producers in 2021.

The ELRP payment percentage will be 90% for historically underserved producers, including beginning, limited resource, and veteran farmers and ranchers, and 75% for all other producers.  These payments will be subject to a payment limitation.

To qualify for the higher payment percentage, eligible producers must have a CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, form on file with FSA for the 2021 program year.

Payments to eligible producers through phase one of ELRP are estimated to total more than $577 million.

ELRP – Phase Two   

Today’s announcement is only Phase One of relief for livestock producers.  FSA continues to evaluate and identify impacts of 2021 drought and wildfire on livestock producers to ensure equitable and inclusive distribution of much-needed emergency relief program benefits.

Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Assistance for Crop Producers 

FSA is developing a two-phased process to provide assistance to diversified, row crop and specialty crop operations that were impacted by an eligible natural disaster event in calendar years 2020 or 2021.

This program will provide assistance to crop producers and will follow a two-phased process similar to that of the livestock assistance with implementation of the first phase in the coming weeks. Phase one of the crop assistance program delivery will leverage existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program data as the basis for calculating initial payments.

Making the initial payments using existing safety net and risk management data will both speed implementation and further encourage participation in these permanent programs, including the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program, as Congress intended.

The second phase of the crop program will be intended to fill additional assistance gaps and cover eligible producers who did not participate in existing risk management programs.

Through proactive communication and outreach, USDA will keep producers and stakeholders informed as ERP implementation details are made available.

Additional Livestock Drought Assistance 

Due to the persistent drought conditions in the Great Plains and West, FSA will be offering additional relief through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to help ranchers cover above normal costs of hauling livestock to forage.  This policy enhancement complements previously announced ELAP compensation for hauling feed to livestock.  Soon after FSA announced the assistance for hauling feed to livestock, stakeholders were quick to point out that producers also were hauling the livestock to the feed source as well and encouraged this additional flexibility.

It is important to note that, unlike ELRP emergency relief benefits which are only applicable for eligible losses incurred in the 2021 calendar year, this ELAP livestock and feed hauling compensation will not only be retroactive for 2021 but will also be available for losses in 2022 and subsequent years.

To calculate ELAP program benefits, an online tool is currently available to help producers document and estimate payments to cover feed transportation cost increases caused by drought and will soon be updated to assist producers with calculations associated with drought related costs incurred for hauling livestock to forage

More Information  
Additional USDA disaster assistance information can be found on farmers.gov, including USDA resources specifically for producer impacted by drought and wildfire and the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool. For FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated three key crop insurance options for livestock producers: the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP), Livestock Gross Margin (LGM), and Livestock Risk Protection (LRP). USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) revised the insurance options to reach more producers, offer greater flexibility for protecting their operations, and ultimately, better meet the needs of the country’s swine, dairy, and cattle producers. The updates were published last week for the 2023 crop year, which begins July 1, 2022.

“Great and sound customer service is the most important thing we can provide our nation’s producers, making sure the programs and products we offer give them the most useful tools for covering their risks,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “Agriculture is not a static industry, and these updates reflect the importance we place on always knowing the evolving needs of producers and offering the most people the best risk management tools we can.”

DRP is designed to insure against unexpected declines in the quarterly revenue from milk sales relative to a guaranteed coverage level; LGM protects against the loss of gross margin (or livestock’s market value minus feed costs); and LRP provides protection against price declines.

Producers will now have more flexibility for DRP, LGM, and LRP, when indemnities are used to pay premiums, which can help producers manage their operation’s cash flow. With these updates, producers can now have both LGM and LRP policies, although they cannot insure the same class of livestock for the same time period or have the same livestock insured under multiple policies.

Additional updates by insurance option include:

Dairy Revenue Protection

  • Dairy producers are now able to continue coverage even if they experience a disaster, such as a barn fire, at their operation.

Livestock Gross Margin

  • Cattle, Dairy, and Swine coverage has been expanded, making it available in all counties in all 50 states.

Livestock Risk Protection

  • Insurance companies are now required to pay indemnities within 30 days, rather than the previous 60 days, following the receipt of the claim form.
  • Head limits have been increased:

oFed Cattle: 12,000 head per endorsement and 25,000 head per crop year

oFeeder Cattle: 12,000 head per endorsement and 25,000 head per crop year

oSwine: 70,000 head per endorsement and 750,000 head per crop year

  • The termination date under LRP has been extended from June 30 to August 31
  • Location reporting requirements have been relaxed to list only state and county, instead of the precise legal location.

Learn more on RMA’s Livestock Insurance Plans webpage. 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.

More Information

These improvements to livestock insurance options build on other efforts by USDA to improve programs for livestock producers. Recently, USDA expanded the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish to cover transportation costs of livestock to feed as well as feed to livestock. And USDA expanded Dairy Margin Coverage to enable dairy producers to enroll supplemental coverage.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

Online Modules Now Available for Calf Care and Quality Assurance Program

DENVER, May 11, 2022 – Farmers and ranchers raising calves now have access to the free Calf Care and Quality Assurance (CCQA) program online at www.calfcareqa.org. CCQA promotes a way of thinking that prompts calf raisers to approach management decisions with thoughtfulness and an appreciation for the responsibility they have to their animals, consumers, the environment and the broader cattle industry in the United States.

“Healthy calves are the cornerstone of every beef, dairy and veal facility,” said Trey Patterson, Wyoming rancher and chair of the Beef Quality Assurance Advisory Group. “Committing to calf health management is the right thing to do for calves, producers and consumers, and completing CCQA’s online modules is an easy way to demonstrate that commitment.”

The program was developed with an understanding of the diversity of calf-raising enterprises, being science and outcomes based while maintaining facility type and size neutrality. While the practices identified in the animal care reference manual are not the only practices that can meet the desired outcomes, the program provides a framework that serves as a resource for anyone working in the calf-raising industry. In addition to the manual, online modules and self-assessment tools, CCQA will release an audit tool later this year. Completion of the CCQA online modules provides certification equivalent to Beef Quality Assurance certification.

Certification through CCQA helps ensure optimal calf health and welfare and is the first, collaborative educational tool that provides guidelines for calf raisers. The CCQA program is a joint initiative led by NCBA’s Beef Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program, managed by the National Milk Producer’s Federation (NMPF) with support from the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association, and the Beef Checkoff-funded Veal Quality Assurance (VQA) program.

“Certification programs such as CCQA establish guidelines and standards that help earn the public’s trust, demonstrating that beef and dairy producers share their values and are committed not only to quality animal care, but also to ensuring safe, wholesome meat and milk,” said Patterson.

For more information, visit www.calfcareqa.org.

Montana Meat & Poultry Inspection Bureau Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program FAQ

Find more info at www.liv.mt.gov

Question:        What is the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program?
Answer:           The CIS program allows selected “state inspected” establishments to ship their selected products across state lines. This program is voluntary.

Question:        Who can apply for CIS?
Answer:           Any licensed establishment who has had a state Grant of Inspection for at least 90 days and has no more than 25 employees. The establishment needs a satisfactory Food Safety Assessment on record with no outstanding issues and the ability to take measures to completely separate CIS inspected products from all other activities with the establishment.

Question:        Who may not apply for CIS?
Answer:           Any establishment under USDA Grant of inspection. Any state inspected facility with over 25 employees.

Question:        I currently have a custom processing plant. Can I join CIS?
Answer:           Yes, however, you will need to maintain a state grant of inspection for 90 days before applying to enter the CIS program.

Question:        I am an eligible plant owner, what should I do first?
Answer:           Refer to FSIS Directive 5740.1 which describes the CIS process.

Question:        What regulations should I review before requesting the on-site visit?
Answer:           FSIS Directive 5740.1: Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program

9 CFR Part 313: Humane Handling of Livestock

9 CFR part 416: Sanitation

9 CFR Part 417: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

9 CFR Part 500: Rules of Practice

*For plants with poultry* 9 CFR Part 381: Poultry Products Inspection Regulations

Question:        What will the process involve?
Answer:           The basics will include:

        • Review of establishments hazard analysis and HACCP plans for all applicable processes
        • Review of recall plan, food defense plan and labels.
        • Onsite review of facility will be completed by state inspection staff.
        • Entrance meeting with USDA official will be scheduled to review: employee numbers, labels, facilities and equipment and product processes to finalize establishment is able to meet basic requirements.
        • If requirements are not met the representative will discuss with plant and state inspection staff what is necessary for eligibility. If USDA standards are not met by the second visit the establishment may not reapply for one year.

Question:        Once I am in the CIS program, where can I ship my products?
Answer:           Anywhere within the United States.

Question:        Who will be my inspector if I enter this program?
Answer:           A state of Montana Department of Livestock inspector will still be the regular inspector. A federal inspector will conduct less frequent, unscheduled inspections as well.

Question:        Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
Answer:           Interested facilities should contact the Department of Livestock at 406-444-5202 or [email protected]

Additional information regarding the CIS Program can be found at:
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/inspection/apply-grant-inspection/state-inspection-programs/cooperative-interstate-shipping-program

SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS

NCBA Seeking Summer Public Policy Interns for D.C. Office

WASHINGTON (September 19, 2022) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), in conjunction with the Public Lands Council (PLC), is now accepting applications for public policy internships in the NCBA Washington, D.C., office for summer 2023.

Interns will have the opportunity to engage with NCBA and PLC staff on several fronts, including policy, communications and membership, and will work closely with the D.C. lobbying and regulatory teams to advance policies important to the beef and sheep industries.

Key responsibilities for public policy interns include participating in lobbying efforts, communicating with NCBA and PLC members, reviewing Federal Register notices, participating in meetings with federal agencies, collaborating with Congressional and agency staff, and other duties as assigned.

Applicants must be a junior or senior undergraduate student, or a graduate student. A background in agriculture or the beef industry is preferred. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be available for the duration of the internship (May 2023 – August 2023). Successful applicants will also have excellent research, writing and communications skills.

NCBA and PLC are affiliate organizations working on behalf of cattle producers and ranching families across the country. NCBA represents cattle producers and advocates for federal policy while PLC specifically represents livestock producers that hold federal grazing permits. Together, NCBA and PLC represent the cattle and sheep industries and producers who operate on both public and private lands.

Interested students should apply here or visit the careers page of ncba.org. Questions about the internship program may be directed to Justyn Tedder ([email protected]).

 Working Lands Internship Program

Applications are due February 1, 2023 

The Montana Rangeland Resources Committee and the Rangeland Resources Program at DNRC are excited to announce a unique opportunity for students. 

 The successful applicants will have the opportunity to spend 2 weeks at each of the 6 host/mentor’s ranch operations. This internship is designed to offer beginning agriculturalists, natural resource and range specialists, biologists, soils majors or any student looking into natural resources, the real-world and hands-on experience implementing the educational tools already gained to a ranching operation. This paid internship will last for three months during the summer where interns will work and learn from mentoring ranchers from across the state of Montana. A monthly wage will be paid with room and board provided by the mentoring/host ranch. 

Students majoring in any natural resource related field are recommended to apply for this opportunity. 

 Please note that the Internship Program is not designed solely as a working ranch hand position, but students will be responsible to help in any way possible throughout the summer doing various chores that are necessary for daily ranch operations. Interns will have the opportunity to learn about rangeland monitoring, plant and weed identification, rotational grazing, ranch economics, erosion control, habitat conservation and much more. There will be two parts to the application process for the Internship Program; approval of the application and a 2 part interview. 

Internship Highlights: 

  • Free housing plus wages
  • Networking with ranchers, agency personnel and more
  • Hands-on working lands experience in a ranch environment 

 Applications and additional information at: https://dnrc.mt.gov/Conservation/Conservation-Programs/Rangeland-Resources/montana-working-lands-internship-programs 

 Contact: Stacey Barta | [email protected] | 406-594-8481 

Drought HUB

MSGA is committed to keeping its members up-to-date on drought related information and resources. As our members work to find solutions during this challenging time, resources and information will be posted on this information hub as they become available.

Take Action

MSGA encourages its members to engage in the public comment process and has developed the Take Action page as an opportunity for you to be involved in the decision-making process happening within federal and state agencies.

White Papers

White papers, or position papers, outline MSGA’s position on a variety of issues impacting Montana ranching families. Read to find out where MSGA stands based on membership-led policy.

In the News

Keep up with everything happening within MSGA and agriculture industry all in one place!

MONTANA AG SAFETY PROGRAM

THE MONTANA AG SAFETY PROGRAM WILL… 

  • Help your operation be in compliance with the Montana Safety Culture Act with trainings and resources 
  • Provide one-on-one safety consultations 
  • Assist with creating custom safety plans tailored to your operation 

Accidents disrupt lives and could cost you your business. Learn how to protect your legacy through good safety practices. Safety is no accident!

Members are eligible for a partial premium return on their State Fund Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy. 

MONTANA SAFTEY CULTURE ACT (MSCA) REQUIREMENTS

Every employer shall establish, implement, and maintain an education based training program that shall at a minimum:

  • Provide general safety orientation to all employees and volunteers before work starts
  • Complete job or task specific training appropriate for employees before performing the work
  • Have continual refreshers
  • Develop awareness and appreciation for safety
  • Do periodic self-inspections and assessments
  • Keep documentation of meetings, trainings, accidents, procedures, and policies for 3 years

WATER COURT NOTICE FAQ

Why did the Montana Water Court issue a notice on the CSKT Compact?

As required by Montana Law, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), the State of Montana, and the United States recently submitted paperwork to the Water Court asking the Court to include the Water Rights Compact that was negotiated and approved by all three parties in a water rights decree. The Compact quantifies the water rights of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes within the State of Montana. When the Montana Legislature established the Compact process in 1979, it directed that all ratified compacts be submitted to the Water Court for inclusion in a decree. As a result, all water compacts in Montana with Indian tribes and federal agencies have or will go through this process.

What is a Preliminary decree?

There are multiple levels of decrees in Montana. A Preliminary decree is a step toward a Final decree. A decree is a Court order adjudicating water uses within a geographical area of Montana. The Water Court has divided the state into a number of adjudication basins for this purpose. The notice that you received was notice of a preliminary decree. Before the Court issues a Final decree, the process progresses through several stages in this order: verification or examination, temporary preliminary decree or preliminary decree, public notice, resolution of individual cases, public hearings, and a final decree.

The DNRC is in charge of the important first step of examination. The rest of the proceedings, and much of the public involvement, occurs at the Water Court.

I just received notice of a Preliminary Decree from the Montana Water Court. What should I do?

This notice is a legal document so you should read it closely. It has been sent specifically to you as part of Montana’s statewide stream adjudication because the outcome of this adjudication process may have an impact on your claims to water use. As indicated in the notice, if you wish to lodge an objection to the approval of the Compact by the Water Court, you have 180 days from the date of the notice to submit that objection to the Water Court.

Does everyone receive this notice because it’s a general announcement?

No. You received this notice because state records show you have filed a statement of claim, applied for or received a permit to appropriate water, or own a water reservation in the vicinity of the area in which a water right quantified by the Compact may also exist. Accordingly, the notice was sent to you so that you can decide whether to raise an objection to the decree of the Compact.

Who do I contact if I have questions about how I should respond to this notice?

The notice directs all questions to the Water Court at toll-free number 800-624-3270; or call our regular office number of (406) 586-4364, which is not toll-free. Or call the Kalispell DNRC Regional Office at (406) 752-2288 or the Missoula DNRC Regional Office at (406) 721-4284.or to the DNRC [contact/address]. You can also find more information at the Montana Water Court website, https://courts.mt.gov/courts/water/Notices-Info/PublicNotices

This notice mentions tribal water rights—Does this apply to me if I am not a Tribal member?

Yes, if you received the notice you may be entitled to submit an objection if the water rights quantified in the Compact have a negative impact on any interests in water you may have.

I thought the Water Compact was ratified and this process was completed?

The Compact has been negotiated, ratified and executed by CSKT, the State of Montana, and the U.S. As is required for all Compacts in Montana, the water rights quantified by the Compact must be included in a Final Decree by the Water Court.

I thought the CSKT Water Compact settled all water claims?

The CSKT Compact, quantifies the water rights of CSKT, however, as noted above, when the Montana Legislature established the compact process, it directed all ratified compacts to be submitted to the Montana Water Court to be included in a Final Decree.

I thought advocates of this Compact said it provided important protections for non-tribal water users? Doesn’t the fact that I received this notice indicate otherwise?

The CSKT Water Compact, as a negotiated settlement, quantifies the water rights of the Tribes while providing important protections for valid, existing uses of water under state law. In this process the Water Court will consider including the Compact as a whole in a decree, including the protections contained in the Compact for non-Indian water users.

15 Recommendations Provided to FWP by Elk Citizens Advisory Group

On July 26, Fish, Wildlife and Park’s elk citizens advisory group held their final meeting and finalized 15 recommendations that were presented to the agency for consideration. MSGA members Chuck Rein and Race King served in the working group and were instrumental in providing landowner perspectives during meeting discussions.

In light of elk populations being chronically over objective, new disease concerns, continuing calls for more access, reports of crowded public lands, and more people than ever coming to the state, a group of 12 citizens were selected by FWP to participate in the working group in May. The group was tasked with developing a set of recommendations to address elk management issues and improve relationships among stakeholders and met half days, every other week for roughly two months. The final recommendations include the following:

  1. Choose your weapon/area
  2. Promote focused damage hunts
  3. Use of shoulder seasons
  4. Establish local elk work groups
  5. Understand and mitigate the disease of brucellosis in elk
  6. Enforce stricter penalties for trespass violations and other bad behaviors by hunters and landowners
  7. Access plus program
  8. Expanded hunter education
  9. FWP landowner liaison
  1. Create an A9 tag bundle
  2. Improve accessibility to the FWP videos that promote the desired behaviors between landowners and hunters
  3. Stakeholder meetings
  4. Promote FWP, USFS, BLM, and DNRC collaboration
  5. Develop user friendly and effective methods to collect data
  6. Manage elk where they are not

If you have thoughts, feedback or comments on these recommendations, please share those with the MSGA staff. In the coming months, staff will have a variety of opportunities to work with FWP staff and share member’s feedback.

HELENA – As grizzly bears emerge from their dens across the state the potential for conflicts with farmers, ranchers and other producers is increasing. In the past few years, bears have been spotted in areas where they haven’t been for more than a century, and the possibility of encountering a grizzly exists anywhere in the western part Montana. Black bears are also widely distributed across the state.

Bears are always on the lookout for an easy food source, including unsecured garbage, spilled grain and livestock carcasses, all of which can bring them into proximity of homeowners and agricultural producers.

Grizzly bears are still a federally protected species. Landowners can haze grizzly bears off their property but must do so without harming the bear; this typically means using loud noises and hard-sided vehicles. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service guidelines for hazing grizzly bears can be found here. Producers can reduce the risk of depredation by installing electric fencing around small calving pastures, pens and corrals. Be cautious around brushy cover including shelterbelts and creeks that bears may use as travel routes or resting areas. Additionally, putting salt, mineral and creep feeders out in the open, away from brush and water, can help deter bears.

Removing or putting electric fences around bone piles can prevent bears from receiving food rewards and being drawn in near homes and herds. In several areas around the state, local efforts have implemented the removal of livestock carcasses to avoid attracting bears near livestock operations. For more information about carcass collection efforts that might be in your area, please contact the nearest FWP specialist. You can find a list of specialists here.

In and around towns, attractants can include other things such as pet food, garbage, barbecue grills and bird feeders. Homeowners should secure these sorts of items to prevent attracting wandering bears.

FWP specialists work diligently to help landowners, homeowners and communities avoid bear conflicts. To report a grizzly bear sighting or conflict, or for assistance securing attractants, contact the FWP bear specialist nearest to you. For livestock conflicts, contact USDA Wildlife Services.

Given grizzly bears are a federally protected species, conflict response is primarily conducted by FWP, tribal fish and wildlife agencies, and USDA Wildlife Services under the authority of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It is illegal to harm, harass or kill grizzly bears, except in cases of self-defense or the defense of others.

Landowners can take measures to prevent bears from being drawn near homes and livestock. Here are some general tips to help prevent bears causing problems in agricultural areas:

  • Place tarps under loaders when transferring grain to prevent spills.
  • Dispose of old grain through sanitation services, burning or dumping away from people, buildings and livestock.
  • Dispose of carcasses and afterbirth through sanitation services, inside an electrified boneyard or by distributing away from people, buildings and livestock. Electric fences can be placed around fresh carcasses and bone piles until they can be permanently removed.
  • If possible, secure domestic animals within an electric fence when unattended by people or at night. This includes poultry, goats, sheep or rabbits.
  • Place creep feeders, molasses and mineral blocks in open areas where humans and livestock can easily view the area before entering.
  • Grizzly bears can be deterred from areas near homes using USFWS guidelines for hazing grizzly bears, found here. This helps reinforce bears’ fear of people.
  • Don’t let grizzly bears linger in your yard or in close proximity to home or other structures because this can lead to habituation. Call an FWP specialist to help deter bears if you are not comfortable or able to do so.
  • Notify your neighbors if you do observe a grizzly bear in the area to help make others aware.

You can find more information on living and working in bear country, here.

Be Aware of Fraudulent Attempts to Take Over Digital Properties

Livestock producers have recently reported fraudulent attempts to take over their digital properties, such as Google Business.

To help beef farmers and ranchers protect their digital assets, such as Google Business, Yelp, social media and others, they should be sure to claim the accounts associated with their businesses. Resources include:

As always, farm and ranch security is paramount. In this case, it is best to ensure that ranchers are equipped with tools to claim their digital presence.

THE RANCHERS' VOICE PODCAST

The Ranchers’ Voice presented by Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is a place for conversations surrounding policy, and issues that matter most to ranching families in Montana.

From the Capitol to the countryside, we’ll be the connection point between local ranchers and legislative decision makers, cattle producers and general consumers, and between all cattle ranchers across Montana.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

RECORDINGS

Price Transparency and Discovery in Live Cattle Markets: Is There a Role for Regulation?

Presented by Montana State UniversityInitiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis (IRAEA) 
This workshop brought together a small group of experts and stakeholders that will evaluate the relative benefits and costs of proposed market interventions and offer alternatives. MSGA’s President, Jim Steinbeisser, was included on this panel.

Find the event page at https://www.montana.edu/regecon/events_outreach/cattlemarkets/index.html

The Cow Calf Operator in the 21st Century: Remaining Relevant in the Future

Boehringer Ingelheim Logo

Presented by Boehringer Ingelheim & Montana Stockgrowers Association

Join us as we explore the relevance of the cow calf producer and his relationship with the consumer as we operate in the 21st Century.
Our goal is to investigate the knowledge that retail has to understand the desires of our consumer today. As we look forward to new marketing strategies and how to strengthen the current strategies the consumer can offer a great deal of insight into the direction that our products are being pulled.
We hope to give producers ideas and thoughts to consider as they continue to develop their marketing plans in the future. Today the beef industry has strong demand and is very resilient, therefore we as producers need to see that and continue to evolve as leaders in this industry.

Initiative 191 would subject stretches of the Madison & Gallatin Rivers, and their tributaries, to the same strict regulations currently only found in national parks and wilderness areas. The effect would be to shut down many currently-allowed activities, including diversions for irrigation and stock water. If successful, I-191 would set a precedent that could be used to shut down agricultural activities near other water bodies.

Hosted by Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Grain Growers Association, and The Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators.

Paid for by No on I-191. Walt Sales Treasurer. PO Box 5391, Helena, MT 59604