Montana Stockgrowers Association congregated in Miles City last week to learn, discuss policy and enjoy camaraderie with fellow ranchers from across the state. Three days of events filled the agenda, starting with committee meetings to update members and offer the opportunity to bring forth resolutions that guide the association in shaping policy and lobbying by the association. Representatives from various state and federal agencies spoke on current issues at the three committee meetings, which included Beef Production and Marketing; Land Use; and Tax, Finance and Ag Policy. No resolutions were presented at this time.
Thursday evening kicked off the event with a concert by classic country recording artist Moe Bandy, which was well attended and enjoyed by the community and MSGA members.
Friday morning MSGA first vice president Jim Steinbeisser, a rancher from Sidney, opened the general session remarking, “Every time you’re in Miles City you automatically think of the history of the Stockgrowers,” alluding to the meetings held 135 years ago with Granville Stuart at the helm that formed the basis of the original organization. He noted as he recently read a book Stuart authored, “Many of the issues they were dealing with in those days are still ones we deal with today: cattle theft, wolves and predators, property rights.” Steinbeisser said we are also dealing with a whole host of new issues, such as fake meat and ongoing dialog with state and federal agencies.
Friday’s keynote speaker was Don Schiefelbein, who, along with his seven brothers and three nephews, owns and operates Schiefelbein Farms, a large diversified farming operation in Kimball, Minn. Schiefelbein is also the chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association policy division. He shared some of the hot button items the NCBA is working on on behalf of ranchers.
“One of our key issues is trade, trade, trade,” said Schiefelbein. “We want to make sure we have an open and fair playing field for all of our ag commodities, and we’re working closely with President Trump to make sure markets are open for our agricultural products.” He added they are keeping an eye on “fake meat,” and making sure it is labeled as such. Thirdly, he said that ranchers need to be aware of and engaged in animal traceability programs.
Friday’s ranch tour of Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Station highlighted current research projects, some sponsored in part by MSGA’s foundation, that include grazing after wildfire, cow longevity, heifer development and prenatal programming in cows. The Gala Dinner and live auction, followed by live music by Way Out West, provided entertainment and fundraising for the MSGA foundation.
A beautiful Saturday morning opened with the “Old Times Parade,” with all entries either horses or livestock. The $500 first place award went to the Cross 4 Ranch of Miles City; Dave Hayden and Jalyn Klauzer of Baker took second place and $300, and third place and $200 went to the Hinnaland Ranch of Circle.
“This year’s Mid-Year meeting was a great opportunity to engage with state and federal officials to discuss those issues that impact of our ranching operations,” said Jay Bodner, MSGA executive vice president. “It is important to have the latest information regarding taxes, state and federal legislation and animal health regulations and also have a direct link to those agencies detailing how issues affect our ranches. In addition to setting policy, MSGA always has some fun at these events, and the Moe Bandy concert and the parade are a few examples.”
Montana Stockgrowers Association MidYear Meeting is one of two annual conventions held by the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The annual convention is in December. For more information or to join MSGA, visit mtbeef.org.