Thursday, July 30, 2009

Want to bend Congressman Rehberg's ear about something? Here's your chance...

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today announced listening sessions in sixteen of Montana’s 56 counties in August. Rehberg makes it a point to visit each of Montana’s counties each congressional term.

“Traveling Montana and visiting with folks from every corner of the state is one of the best parts of my job” said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “It gives me a chance to hear from Montanans, many of whom who feel like Congress isn’t responsive to their concerns. Rather than a month of me telling folks what they should think, these listening sessions let me listen and learn from Montanans so I can bring some of that Western common sense to the debates in Washington, D.C.”

Rehberg’s full listening session tour for August is listed below.

Stillwater County Listening Session in Columbus
Thursday, August 6, 9 amColumbus City Hall
408 East 1st Avenue

Sweet Grass County Listening Session in Big Timber
Thursday, August 6, 12 Noon
U.S. Forest Service Building meeting room
225 Big Timber Loop Rd

Park County Listening Session in Livingston
Thursday, August 6, 3 pm
Park County Courthouse, Community Room
414 E Callender St #2

Golden Valley County Listening Session in Ryegate
Friday, August 7, 9 am
Courtroom of Golden Valley Courthouse
107 Kemp

Wheatland County Listening Session in Harlowton
Friday, August 7, 11 am
Harlowton Public Library
Conference Room
13 South Central Ave

Meagher County Listening Session in White Sulphur Springs
Friday, August 7, 3 pm
White Sulphur Springs City Hall Meeting Room
105 West Hampton

Petroleum County Listening Session in Winnett
Monday, August 10, 10 am
Winnett Courthouse, Courtroom
301 East Main St

Garfield County Listening Session in Jordan
Monday, August 10, 2 pm
Jordan Courthouse Courtroom
352 Leavitt Ave

Valley County Listening Session in Glasgow
Tuesday, August 11, 9 am
The Glasgow City Civic Center
319 3rd Street South

Phillips County Listening Session in Malta
Tuesday, August 11, 11:30 am
The Malta Courthouse Courtroom
314 South 2nd Ave. West

Chouteau County Listening Session in Fort Benton
Wednesday, August 12, 11:30 am
The Fort Benton Courthouse Courtroom
1308 Franklin St

Liberty County Listening Session in Chester
Wednesday, August 12, 3:00 pm
The Chester Courthouse Courtroom
111 1st St East

Judith Basin Listening Session in Stanford
Thursday, August 13, 10 am
Stanford Courthouse, MSU Extension Conference Room (lower level floor)
31 1st Ave

Fergus County Listening Session in Lewistown
Thursday, August 13, 1 pm
Central Montana Community Center
307 West Watson Street (right beside City Hall)

Toole County Listening Session in Shelby
Friday, August 28, 11 am
Courthouse Court Room
226 1st Street South

Glacier County Listening Session in Cut Bank
Friday, August 28, 3 pm
Cut Bank Voting Center
913 East Railroad Street across the street from the Football Field

Beef Quality Assurance Twilight Training to be held at Midland Bull Test in Columbus, Aug. 5

The Midland Bull Test Center in Columbus will host a free Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Twilight Training session on Aug. 5, from 4-7:30 p.m. The session will include low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, chute-side cattle treatment, animal care discussions and an industry update. A free dinner will be provided and attendees have the opportunity to become BQA certified. A special BQA project, "Ranchers Care," will also be introduced.

This event is sponsored by Stockman Bank and the Montana Stockgrowers Association through a grant from the Montana Beef Council. For more information, contact Midland Bull Test at (406) 322-5597; Lars Hanson at the Stockman Bank in Billings at (406) 655-3943; or Clint Peck of Billings, Montana BQA director, at (406) 896-9068. To learn more about BQA programming, go to

Upcoming BQA Twilight Training Sessions will be held Aug. 27 at Ehlke Herefords in Townsend, Sept. 2 at the Wang Ranch in Baker, Sept. 10 at Thomas Herefords in Gold Creek, and Sept. 16 at Reminisce Angus Ranch/Big Sky Management in Dillon.

For more information about hosting a BQA Twilight Training session, contact Rose Malasani at (406) 442-3420.

MSGA creates Facebook page

Check out MSGA's new Facebook page!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Conservation Stewardship Program Alert

By Carl Mattson, Program Coordinator, Montana MarketManager

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up for 2009 is expected to be announced during the first half of August. The premier conservation program has undergone a substantial make over in the 2008 Farm Bill. One significant change will be program availability on a competitive application basis to all agricultural producers in Montana.

Although the rules for CSP have not been released and many of the particulars are still unknown at this time, MSGA thought it important to provide as much notice to members as possible. MSGA does know the following:

-Sign-up is expected to start in early August 2009. August 10th has been mentioned
-The sign-up period is anticipated to extend only through September 30, 2009
-Information will be available soon at your local NRCS office
-All agricultural operations are eligible to submit an application for a CSP contract
-Contracts will be awarded on a ranking system basis
-The ranking system will consider current and future conservation practices that address 5 determined Montana natural resource concerns centering around soil, water and wildlife
-A pre-determined number of acres will be available for enrollment in each state and contracts will be awarded to match the acres available
-The awarded contracts should be multi-year and for a substantial dollar amount

The timing for this CSP sign-up is not the most convenient for Montana livestock and crop producers but then they never have been. For those interested in submitting an application it will be important to stay in contact with your local NRCS office and gather the CSP information as soon as it becomes available. For those with access to the internet, information should also appear on the national and state NRCS website soon after the sign-up has been officially announced. MSGA suggests printing the available information. After acquiring the CSP information it is anticipated that a producer should be able to go through the information and determine whether he wishes to continue pursuing the application process.

NRCS will also be conducting as many CSP informational workshops as the short time period will allow. Your local NRCS staff will do their best to assist with the process but will likely find themselves similarly concerned with the constricted timeline. Like other USDA programs implementation of the CSP program has been held up in Washington D.C. for months; we are still awaiting the release of the rules. The NRCS staff from Washington D.C. to Montana is doing their very best to make this program available to producers before the end the nation’s fiscal year on September 30th. Please be patient as we all try to learn the process.

Authors of the 2008 Farm Bill intended the CSP to be available on a yearly basis to all livestock and crop producers in the United States for as long as the current legislation is in effect. If you are unable to assemble your operation’s information for this year’s CSP contract; MSGA anticipates there to be another opportunity each year through 2012. For more information contact the MSGA office at 406-442-3420.

After sharp industry criticism, feds drop NBEZ proposal; offer new "Designated Surveillance Area Plan"

From the Montana Stockgrower Update, July 24, 2009

The National Brucellosis Elimination Zone (NBEZ), a plan released earlier this year to regionalize the area around Yellowstone National Park for brucellosis, has been shelved by APHIS and an alternate proposal, the "Designated Surveillance Area Plan" (DSA) will be released soon.

MSGA, along with our counterparts in Idaho and Wyoming, met with APHIS in Washington D.C. in March to express concerns over the NBEZ proposal. Specifically, MSGA expressed concern that 1.) The plan was moving too fast with too little input from those ranchers who deal with this problem day in and day out; 2.) Creating such a zone would only serve to cordon off those ranchers without actually providing them any extra tools to combat the problem; 3.) The plan as it was written did not include any measurable goals for reducing or eliminating the disease in that area; and 4.) There was no sunset date as far as when ranchers in this area would no longer be in such a zone.

The industry groups from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho offered several suggestions to APHIS for how to best move forward in addressing the brucellosis problem from a regulatory standpoint. Our suggestions included 1.) Allow the states to conduct their own enhanced surveillance of the area, according to their own unique circumstances; 2.) Declare the entire country free of brucellosis (which under international standards, we already are, even with the few cases we have had in the past several years in the three states); and 3.) Focus APHIS’s limited resources on advancing brucellosis research so we can improve the tools we have to address brucellosis in the Yellowstone area.

The governors of Idaho and Wyoming vocally supported the efforts of the industry groups to encourage APHIS to reconsider their efforts. According to a recent press release from the Department of Livestock, after the NBEZ proposal "was met with skepticism by animal health officials and producers, a work group of state and federal officials went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan – the Designated Surveillance Area Plan (DSA) – that gives states more autonomy in drawing boundaries for brucellosis surveillance areas." The DOL press release says that the DSA will focus eradication efforts on the Greater Yellowstone Area while relaxing strict regulations now in place nationally.

The plan had not been released at press time, but the Department of Livestock has scheduled two informational meetings in Billings and Bozeman in August. The Billings meeting will be held August 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Grand, 5500 Midland Rd. The Bozeman meeting will be August 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the Comfort Inn 1370 N. 7th Ave. Check the Department’s website for more information.