MSGA Announces Producer Profitability Listening Sessions; Invites Livestock Producers to Share Ideas

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) will be hosting a slate of listening sessions throughout the spring to seek input and ideas from producers on areas where the American livestock industry can be strengthened. The listening sessions are part of the organization’s Producer Profitability Initiative, a grassroots movement started and led by cattle ranchers who have a vision to create a sustainable future for the American livestock industry. All livestock producers are invited to attend, attendees do not need to be MSGA members. Listening sessions will be held in partnership with livestock markets throughout Montana from February through May.

“The livestock industry has an opportunity to come together with one another like never before. There are many issues that affect ranchers, and at the end of the day we can agree that keeping land in production agriculture and our industry strong and vibrant for generations to come is something we can all rally around,”

shared Lesley Robinson, MSGA Vice President and chair of the Producer Profitability Initiative task force.

The Producer Profitability Initiative encourages participation from beef producers of all ages, management styles, operations large and small, feedlot operators, affiliate businesses, private property owners, and supporters of the livestock industry whose livelihood and identity are tied to ranching and whose focus is to ensure the sustainability of the American livestock industry while providing security for the domestic food supply.

The following listening sessions have been scheduled:

  • Tuesday, February 27 at Public Auction Yards in Billings at 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 5 at Headwaters Livestock Auction in Three Forks at 5:00 p.m.
  • Monday, March 11 at Dillon Livestock Auction in Dillon at 5:00 p.m.
  • Monday, March 18 at Lewistown Livestock Auction in Lewistown at 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 10 at Glendive Livestock Exchange in Glendive at 5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 11 at Miles City Livestock Commission in Miles City at 5:00 p.m.
  • Monday, April 22 at Bear Paw Livestock in Chinook after the day’s sale.
  • Monday April 29 at Five Valleys Livestock Auction in Missoula at 5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 9 at Western Livestock Auction in Great Falls at 5:00 p.m.

Additional dates will be added in the coming weeks, visit www.mtbeef.org/profitability for the most current schedule.

Earlier this month, MSGA released its Producer Profitability Initiative brief that highlighted five initial focus areas – creating a favorable tax climate, improving government programs, minimizing barriers to entry for young or beginning livestock producers, finding solutions for labor challenges, and developing industry mentorship opportunities.

For additional information on MSGA’s Producer Profitability Initiative listening sessions, contact MSGA at (406) 442-3420 or a local livestock market.

Ranchers Stewardship Alliance Rural Resilience Webinar Series

The Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is excited to announce the return of their highly anticipated “Rural Resilience” webinar series. Back for a fourth consecutive year, this free online event aims to empower and educate our ranching and rural communities on financial, ecological, and social resilience.

Held the fourth Thursday of January, February, March, and April, the Rural Resilience series features experienced, hand-selected speakers who are experts in their respective fields. Attendees can look forward to gaining valuable insights, knowledge, and inspiration in this interactive format.

Here’s what’s on tap for 2024:

  • January 25 – “Cattle Market Update and Strategies” with Matthew McQuagge, CattleFax
  • February 22 – “Goats: Lessons Learned in the First Five Years” with Carmen Salveson
  • March 28 – “Community Resilience 101: Why Resilience is a Concept to Embrace with Caution” with Julia Haggerty, Montana State University
  • April 25 – “Selling Beef When Deep Freezers are Aplenty…and Processors Not So Much” with Montana RancHERS Beef Co.

Each event is held from 7-8:30 p.m. MT and will include an opportunity for questions. Upon registration at www.RanchStewards.org/Events, a Zoom link will be mailed to all attendees. For past installments of the Rural Resilience webinar series, visit the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance YouTube channel.


About the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance

The Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is a rancher-led, grassroots organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for rural communities throughout the Northern Great Plains. Through collaborative conservation projects, rancher education events, and community outreach, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance works to strengthen our rural community, economy, and culture for generations to come.


Media Contact

Name:             Haylie Shipp

Phone:             406-853-0483

Email:              [email protected]

The next Montana Board of Livestock meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 27, 2024 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].

Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team to Meet March 7, 2024

The Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team (MSGOT) will meet on Thursday, March 7, 2024, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The meeting will take place at theHelena DNRC Headquarters, Montana Meeting Room (1st floor conference room).  The meeting will be streamed over Zoom and recorded.

MSGOT will take executive action to approve the November 20, 2023 and December 11, 2023 MSGOT meeting minutes.  MSGOT members with hear presentations from the Program on the conservation easement/leases update, the new Basemap, and the 2023 Annual Report.  Additionally, the Program will share a proposal received from the University of Montana and present the plan to initiate stakeholder focus group meetings.  All past and present meeting materials are posted on the MSGOT’s meeting web page.

Members of the public are invited to participate in person or virtually via Zoom.

Register For Zoom Link

Registration is also available by contacting the Program at [email protected]. Requests should be received by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.  Requests received after that time will be accommodated to the best of our ability.

The MSGOT oversees implementation of Montana’s Sage Grouse Conservation Strategy by the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program.

The meeting agenda appears below:

March 7, 2024: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

DNRC Headquarters, Montana Room / Zoom Video Conference Meeting

  • 1:00 – 1:15: Call to Order and Administrative Matters, Michael Freeman, MSGOT Chair
    • Introductions and Video Conference Logistics
  • 1:15- 1:20: Executive Action
    • Approval of meeting minutes, November 20, 2023, and December 11, 2023
  • 1:20 – 2:45: Presentation – Updates
    • Conservation easement/leases
    • The new Basemap
    • 2023 Annual Report
    • A proposal from University of Montana and plan to initiate our focus group meetings.
  • 2:45 – 3:00: Public Comment on Other Matters

NOTE: Agenda item times are approximate. Actual times may vary by up to one hour. Attendees who may need services or special accommodations should contact Therese Hartman (406-594-2671 or [email protected]) at least five working days before the meeting.


USDA Announces Availability of Low-Interest Physical Loss Loans for Producers in Seven South Central Montana Counties Affected by Excessive Rain and Flood Natural Disasters

Physical loss loans through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) 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.

Impacted Area: Montana

Triggering Disaster: Excessive Rain and Flood

Application Deadline: 2/23/2024

Primary Counties Eligible: Golden Valley

Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:
Montana: Fergus, Musselshell, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Wheatland and Yellowstone

More Resources
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Loan Assistance 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 Announces Availability of Low-Interest Physical Loss Loans for Producers in Nine South Eastern Montana Counties Affected by Excessive Rain and Flood Natural Disasters

Physical loss loans through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) 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.

Impacted Area: Montana

Triggering Disaster: Excessive Rain and Flood

Application Deadline: 3/07/2024

Primary Counties Eligible: Rosebud

Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:

Montana: Big Horn, Custer, Garfield, Musselshell, Petroleum, Powder River, Treasure and Yellowstone

More Resources

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Loan Assistance 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.

Society for Range Management to Recognize Ranchers for Stewardship Efforts

The Society for Range Management (SRM) recently established the Chuck Jarecki Rancher Land Stewardship Award thanks to a generous donation by its namesake, Montana rancher Chuck Jarecki. The award was created to recognize ranch operators who demonstrate outstanding rangeland stewardship and contribute to the ranching profession through local, state, and national service. Since SRM’s formation in 1948, ranchers have played a critical role in the organization and those who exemplify the founding principles of SRM will now have the opportunity to be recognized for their dedication to the land.

“If you are like most ranchers, you are a livestock manager plus a steward of the land,” Jarecki said. “I believe each is of equal importance.”

As a SRM life member, joining in 1967, Jarecki found much benefit in his membership including learning opportunities, research promotion, and connection with other like-minded range enthusiasts. He led the International Mountain Section of SRM, served on the Society’s Board of Directors, and was instrumental in creating an Endowment Development Fund. His recent gift to SRM was just one more example of his devotion to not only the Society but the stewardship of rangelands based on sound ecological principles – a pillar of SRM’s mission.

“For more than 50 years Chuck Jarecki has been a leader in SRM and it is with much appreciation that we accept the generous endowment that he has donated to develop this new Rancher Land Stewardship Award in his name,” SRM 1st Vice President Karen Hickman said. “While working with Chuck through the development of this award it became very clear to me that his drive to recognize excellence in land stewardship is only one aspect of his contribution to rangeland management and the SRM. We are so fortunate to have members like Chuck who want to provide more opportunities for excellent range management to be recognized.”

The Chuck Jarecki Rancher Land Stewardship Award will be a cash award whose recipient is an active ranch owner or operator with a lengthy record of successful ranch management. Evaluation of award candidates will be generally based on evidence of rangeland stewardship practices, including effective grazing, soil, vegetation, noxious weed, and fish/wildlife habitat management, for example. Special consideration will be given to those who participate in community activities, especially those in service and/or leadership roles to benefit natural resources. Membership in SRM is not a requirement for award eligibility.

Nominations for the Award will open in March of 2024 and the first recipient will be honored at the 2025 SRM Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington.

About SRM: The International Society for Range Management is the professional scientific society and conservation organization whose members study, conserve, manage and sustain the varied resources of the rangelands which include prairie, shrublands, woodlands, and savannahs which cover nearly half the land on earth. SRM’s members are land managers, scientists, educators, students, ranchers and conservationists – a diverse membership guided by a professional code of ethics and unified by a strong land ethic. Learn more at rangelands.org.

Landowners have until March 15 to apply for PALA and UPL programs 

HELENA – Landowners have until March 15 to apply for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Unlocking Public Lands (UPL) Program or the Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) Program.

These programs are designed to provide recreational public access to state (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land where no or limited legal public access currently exists.  

For enrollment in UPL, landowners will receive an income tax credit in the amount of $750 per agreement and up to a maximum of $3,000 in tax credits in exchange for allowing access across the private lands, roads or trails to reach inaccessible public land. Landowners must hold the public land lease and decide how the public may cross their private property for all recreations.

For enrollment in PALA, landowners will be paid, including money for possible infrastructure reimbursements (e.g., gravel, culverts, cattle guards) to facilitate public access to inaccessible public lands. Landowners must hold the public land lease. Payment amounts vary based on a variety of factors, with one landowner possibly holding multiple agreements. The governor-appointed Private Land/Public Wildlife (PL/PW) Advisory Committee will review complete applications and make a recommendation to the FWP director. 

“We continue to look for ways to help landowners manage hunting access and to provide more access for the public,” said Jason Kool, FWP hunting access program manager. “Offering a tax credit or payment in exchange for public access to inaccessible public land is a unique and innovative way to respect private property rights and increase public access.”  

While Montana contains millions of acres of public land, much of this land is inaccessible to the public and requires landowner permission for access. 

More information about these two programs, including enrollment criteria, application forms, and fact sheets describing these FWP public access programs, can be found at: fwp.mt.gov/landowner.

USDA Seeks Applications to Help Farmers and Ranchers Venture into New and Better Markets 

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that USDAis accepting applications for grants to help agricultural producers maximize the value of their products and venture into new and better markets.

USDA is making the grants available under the Value-Added Producer Grants [lnks.gd] program. The grants help farmers and ranchers generate new products, create marketing opportunities, and increase their incomes through value-added activities.

Eligible applicants include independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.

USDA may award up to $75,000 for planning activities or up to $250,000 for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product.

Planning activities may include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans. Working capital expenses may include costs associated with processing, marketing, advertising, inventory, and salaries.

USDA is particularly interested in applications that will advance Biden-Harris Administration priorities to:

  • Reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.
  • Ensure all rural residents have equitable access to Rural Development (RD) programs andbenefits from RD-funded projects; and
  • Help rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and through improved infrastructure.

Applications for 2024 grants are now being accepted.

Paper applications must be postmarked and delivered by mail, email or in person to one of Montana’s six offices [lnks.gd] by 4:30 p.m., Mountain Time, April 16, 2024. Electronic applications are due by 9:59 p.m. Mountain Time, April 11, 2024.

Additional information is available on page 2919 of the Jan. 17 Federal Register. [lnks.gd]

For more information or to apply here in Montana, contact USDA Rural Development Agriculture Producer State Specialist Marlee Johnston, at marlee.johnston@usda.gov.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Montana Small Businesses

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Small nonfarm businesses in 15 Montana counties and neighboring counties in Idaho are now eligible to apply for low‑interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced Director Jeffrey Lusk of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began July 11.

Primary Montana counties:  Liberty, Mineral, Sanders, Teton and Toole;

Neighboring Montana counties:  Cascade, Chouteau, Flathead, Glacier, Hill, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula and Pondera;

Neighboring Idaho counties:  Bonner, Clearwater and Shoshone.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Lusk said.

Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.375 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Lusk said.

Interest does not begin to accrue until 12 months from the date of the initial disaster loan disbursement. SBA disaster loan repayment begins 12 months from the date of the first disbursement.

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on Sept. 6.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email [email protected] for more information on SBA disaster assistance. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for economic injury is May 6, 2024.

Junior Ag Loans Available Through the Montana Department of Agriculture

HELENA, Mont. – For over 40 years, Montana youth have participated in the Montana Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Junior Agriculture Loan Program. Young people under 21 years of age, active in Montana agriculture, are eligible for loans up to $8,500 and are encouraged to apply.

“With the average age of farmers and ranchers being nearly 60 years old, it’s important we do what we can to encourage the next generation to stay involved in agriculture,” said Director Christy Clark. “The Junior Ag Loan Program is a great way for young producers to access financing for a project they are passionate about.”

The Montana Junior Agriculture Loan Program was developed to assist rural youth in developing or expanding agribusiness projects. Projects can involve crop and livestock production, custom farming, marketing and distribution, processing, and other financially feasible activities.

Program benefits can far exceed the actual loan for active participant. Many young men and women unable to secure conventional financing due to age, or inadequate collateral or have used the program to establish financing experience and to advance their project’s monetary value.

Applications for the program and other information, can be found on the Department’s website at: https://agr.mt.gov/JuniorAgricultureLoans.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is serving Montana Agriculture and growing prosperity under the Big Sky. For more information on department programs and services, visit agr.mt.gov.

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”.

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:


FWP reopens public comment period for draft grizzly bear and wolf management plans

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is reopening the public comment period for the 2024 Grizzly Bear Management Plan and Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan to ensure Montana counties, Tribes, and state and federal agencies have a chance for input. The new deadline is March 9.

The extension will ensure that Montana statute requiring FWP to notify county commissioners of opportunities to comment on management plans for grizzly bears, wolves and other large carnivores has been met. It will also allow for additional time for tribal partners and other state and federal agencies to provide input.

“Wolves and grizzly bears are iconic and controversial species,” said FWP Director Dustin Temple. “We want to ensure that everyone who has a stake in how these two species are managed can have a chance to comment on our draft plans before they are final.”

The new grizzly bear plan will inform management statewide, focusing on the 30 counties where grizzly bear presence has been documented in recent years or may be documented in the near future. Since grizzly bears are still listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the plan is designed to inform state management while this species remains federally listed. The plan also addresses FWP’s future vision for management when any grizzly bear populations in Montana are delisted and full management authority for them is returned to the state.

The wolf plan shifts a key counting metric from the number of breeding pairs to the number of wolves representing at least 15 breeding pairs. The plan establishes that 450 wolves would ensure 15 breeding pairs. Population estimates will continue to be determined by the peer-reviewed Integrated Patch Occupancy Modeling method, or iPOM. The plan also describes the current depredation prevention and response program.

Both draft plans were out for public comment in 2023. People who previously submitted comments on the draft plans do not need to submit them again.

To comment on the Grizzly Bear Management Plan, go to fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/public-comment-opportunities/grizzly-bear-management-plan. To comment on the Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, go to fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/public-comment-opportunities/draft-wolf-mgmt-plan. If you have already commented on the plans, your comments are captured and there is no need to comment further at this time.

NCBA Launches Tax Survey as Part of Advocacy Efforts

NCBA has launched a nationwide survey of our members and affiliates to learn more about the impact of the estate tax and other business tax provisions on cattle producers. NCBA will conduct the tax survey through the end of 2023 and report the findings at our annual convention in Orlando.

The temporary relief from the estate tax secured in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will go away at the end of 2025, and beginning in 2026, estates valued greater than $5 million (adjusted for inflation) will be subject to the federal estate tax. At that time, many producers will face a greater risk of paying the 40% estate tax. Many of the business tax provisions in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are also set to expire at the end of 2025. Important tools like Section 2032(A) Special Use Valuation, Section 179 Expensing, and Bonus Depreciation are up for grabs.

To protect these important tools, we need your help to gather updated information and personal stories from cattle producers to educate Congress on the importance of these key tax provisions and push back against the scheduled tax hikes.

The survey will be conducted anonymously, and personal information will be kept private.

Take the survey here. 


Montana Stockgrowers Foundation Announces the Dr. Raymond Ansotegui Overeducated Cowboy Scholarship

Applications due February 29, 2024

The Raymond Ansotegui Family, in partnership with the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation (MSF), is accepting applications for the Dr. Raymond Ansotegui Overeducated Cowboy Scholarships, a scholarship formed in memory of its namesake who passed away on March 2, 2023, after a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s. Two $2,000 scholarships will be awarded in 2024.

Dr. Raymond “Ray” P. Ansotegui was the consummate ambassador to the cowboy way of life. He supported the future of ranching by balancing the best of tradition with the newest research. Ansotegui was always instilling confidence into youth who would become the next generation of cattlewomen and men. His initial one-time, one-year position at Montana State University stretched into thirty-two years where he won numerous teaching awards and led groundbreaking research for the university.

For Ansotegui, it was of the utmost importance that students not just learn “book facts,” but came away with directly applicable knowledge, skills, and a healthy dose of common sense. Having students get a ‘hands on’ taste of ranching was a top priority. His contributions to ranching in Montana and beyond are unquantifiable.

After his passing, the Ansotegui family established a memorial fund through MSF to honor Ray’s passion of combining education and the ranching lifestyle. Applicants must be seeking a profession in the field of animal husbandry, such as Animal Science, AgBusiness, Ag Education, Ag Technology, Ag Production, Farm & Ranch Management or Ranching Systems. If an applicant has another major or field of study, they must be able to explain why it would be beneficial to the field of animal husbandry.

Other requirements for the scholarship include demonstrating a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and be a member of Montana Stockgrowers Association or have at least one parent/guardian who is a member.

Applicants must complete the online application form, include a copy of their current transcript, and write a 250-600 word essay on one of the following topics:

  • What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing the agriculture industry today?
  • When and what made you decide this was the industry for you?
  • Share a humorous or hurtful story that helped define who you are.

Applications are due February 29, 2024. Students can apply online at www.mtbeeffoundation.org.

For questions, please contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 or [email protected]. If students are interested in these scholarships but are not currently a member of MSGA, join today. Student memberships start at just $20 per year and can be found at www.mtbeef.org/membership/.

MSGA Summer Internship Program

The MSGA Summer Internship Program was created to provide students with a hands-on experience of the various facets of association event planning and execution, policy development, social media engagement and coverage, and member engagement.

Applicants will be accepted from February 1, 2024, through March 31, 2024. The internship will take place May – August. Start and end dates are flexible.

Find more information and the online application at www.mtbeef.org/careers

2024 MonDak Area Stockgrowers Scholarship

MonDak Area Stockgrowers Association is once again offering four scholarships. The MonDak Area Stockgrowers will offer up to $3000 in college scholarships to students in Dawson, Richland, Wibaux, or Roosevelt County, MT; Golden Valley, McKenzie, or Williams County, ND. Applicants may be 2024 high school graduates or past graduates currently enrolled in college. Preference will be given for 2 – $1000 scholarships (one high school graduate and one current college student) and 2-$500 scholarships (one high school graduate and one current college student). Students are eligible to receive the scholarship once at the high school level and once at the college level.

Applicants are required to submit a typed application by April 15, 2024.

2024 MRLA Scholarships

Application Deadline April 30, 2024

Hey there, young ag enthusiasts! If you’re passionate about agriculture and dreaming of a career in farming, ranching, or any industry related to it, we’ve got some incredible news for you!

Introducing our scholarship program designed exclusively for high school seniors through post graduates like you who are crazy about agriculture. We believe in supporting your dreams and helping you grow. That’s why we’re giving away not one, not two, but THREE $1000 scholarships this year! Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity! Apply now and let us help you towards success in your agricultural journey.

MSGA Accepting Applications for NCBA’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference; Encourages Young Producers to Apply by March 15

Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is accepting applications for its Young Cattlemen’s Conference scholarship. The conference will take place May 30 – June 6, 2024, and applications are due March 15, 2024.

The Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC) is an opportunity for cattlemen and cattlewomen between the ages of 25 and 50 to visit segments of the beef industry across the nation with young cattlemen from other states. Facilitated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), participants will travel with national attendees to Denver and Washington D.C.

Participants will also have the opportunity to visit the offices of Montana’s congressional delegation to discuss issues of critical importance to America’s cattle and beef producers and advocate for their industry during a day spent on Capitol Hill.

MSGA will select up to three participants to represent MSGA on this year’s YCC trip. Selected participants will receive support to cover the cost of the program registration along with $500 for travel expenses. Program support is made possible by MSGA’s Young Stockgrowers and the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation (MSF). Attendees of the Young Cattlemen’s Conference must be members of Montana Stockgrowers Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

For more information on YCC, or to apply online, visit www.mtbeef.org/advocacy/ycc.


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!



  • 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. 


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

Emergency Disaster Resources

USDA Expands Eligibility, Enhances Benefits for Key Disaster Programs

[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


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.


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


US Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance


Disaster Loan Assistance



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.


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.



USDA Resources

Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool

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


Disaster Programs at a Glance Brochure


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.


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.


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.


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 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.



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