MSGA Applauds the Bi-partisan Effort to Finalize the Fort Belknap Indian Community Water Settlement Act

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HELENA, Mont. (June 27, 2023) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) applauds the leadership and perseverance of Senator Tester and Senator Daines in negotiating a framework for the Fort Belknap Indian Community (FBIC) Water Settlement Act of 2023 in Congress.

The FBIC Water Settlement Act will ensure that historical water use by all water users on and off the reservation are protected, prevent years of costly litigation for Montana water users, and provide much needed certainty for all parties involved.

“The success of Montana’s agriculture industry is dependent upon water and water right certainty. It is easily the single most important resource for people across Montana, which is why MSGA supports an agreement such as the FBIC Water Settlement Act. Since 1884, MSGA has been dedicated to influencing public policy, improving the profitability of Montana’s ranching families, and protecting private property rights. MSGA thanks Senator Tester and Senator Daines in this effort to move this settlement through Congress. We applaud the bi-partisan effort and look forward to the passage and implementation of the Act.”

said Raylee Honeycutt, MSGA Executive Vice President

The Fort Belknap Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Act of 2023 will provide $1.3 billion to improve infrastructure and economic development for the FBIC and improve the efficiency of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Milk River Project, which furnishes water for the irrigation of about 121,000 acres of Tribal and non-Tribal land. The bill will also restore tribal management to 37,582 acres of state and federal land for the FBIC.

The bipartisan bill is supported by the Fort Belknap Indian Community, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, and multiple groups across the state. A water rights settlement is also supported by local irrigators.

In 2001, the FBIC Tribal Council approved its Water Compact with the State of Montana. The Montana Legislature approved the Compact later that spring. FBIC and the Congressional Delegation have worked together for years to bring together partners to advance this critical settlement. The Compact and Settlement must now pass-through Congress, be approved by a simple majority vote of FBIC members, and the Compact must be submitted to the Montana Water Court and be entered into the Montana Water Court as a final decree.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots membership organization and is the trusted voice of cattle ranchers. With over 135 years of history, MSGA advocates and ensures cattle ranching remains relevant, safe and a sustainable way of life for generations to come.


Keni Reese

Director of Marketing & Communications


[email protected]

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