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County Farm Bureaus “Call on Capitol” to learn about legislative process

Seventeen members of county Farm Bureaus across Montana had the opportunity to hold a “Calling on the Capitol” February 11-12 in Helena. The group met with the chair people of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, along with visiting State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski, Department of Livestock’s Executive Officer Christian MacKay and Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Sexton. In addition, Todd Everett of EQC, Legislative Services, explained how bills are researched and written.

The group hosted a dinner as well as a legislative breakfast. Guest legislators Rep. Jeff Welborn, (R-Dillon), and Rep. Duane Ankney, (R-Colstrip), discussed their experiences in the legislature during the dinner. The Legislator Breakfast included visits by Rep. Dave Kasten, (R-Brockway), Senator Jerry Black, (R-Shelby), Rep. Roy Hollandsworth, (R-Brady), Rep. Jeff Welborn, (R-Dillon), and House Republican Leader Scott Sales, Bozeman.

Harris Wheat, a rancher from Dillon, praised the entire event, noting that it was interesting to meet leaders from the DNRC and DOL and hear their thoughts on issues that affect that state’s agricultural industry. “In addition, it was also great to see the renovated capitol building. I hadn’t been there in years, so it was impressive to see the work that had been done,” he noted

Ken Johnson, a farmer from Conrad, found the talk by Legislative Services especially interesting. “It’s amazing to really learn how a bill is researched and written,” he noted. “In addition, the talk that Nancy Schlepp, MFBF National Affairs director, gave on testifying was certainly worthwhile. We learned about the whole process—where to go, what’s important to say, and how to say it.”

Four Farm Bureau members had the opportunity to put their testifying knowledge to work during the Counties’ Calling on the Capitol. MFBF Vice President Bruce Wright, Bozeman, testified against HB 445, the Farmer Protection Act; MFBF President Bob Hanson of White Sulpfur Springs, and MFBF Equine Committee Chair Mack Cole, Hysham, testified in favor of HB 418, proposed horse processing plant legislation; and Don Steinbeisser, Jr., Sidney, testified in favor of SB 300, a bill to use increased fertilizer fees for research and development.

Attendees to Calling on the Capitol included MFBF President Bob Hanson, White Sulphur Springs; MFBF Vice President Bruce Wright and Gwen Wright, Bozeman; Ken, Cynthia Sheridan Johnson, Conrad; Joe Garrity, Vaughn; Harris and Sharon Wheat, Dillon; David Clark, Winston; Cliff Cox, Townsend; Todd Wolfe, Vida; Don Steinbeisser, Jr., Sidney; Hannalore and Irvin Sharbono, Carbon County, Dwight Vannatta, Bainville; Lari Brandon, Helena, and Mack Cole, Hysham.

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