On the Trail

Travels with MFBF’s State Staff and Volunteer Leaders

Montana Farm Bureau wants to keep you “in the know” with the federation’s activities. Tune in regularly to see what your county leaders are up to and how MFBF is promoting agriculture!


Page 1 of 1612345...10...Last »

April 27th, 2016: Crop insurance and budget cuts: farm policy highlights from DC

Welcome to the fourth installment of our guest blogging series from Farm Bureau members who represent Montana on national Issues Advisory Committees. Bruce Wright is a Farm Bureau member from Gallatin County.

Montana Farm Bureau members in Washington, DC

Bruce Wright, third from the left, is a Gallatin County grain farmer and serves on the Farm Policy Committee.

I’m the owner/operator of Bruce Wright Farms, Inc., a small grains farm near Bozeman, Montana and am a co-owner of Montana Gluten Free Processors.

I attended the Farm Policy Issue Advisory Committee Meeting. With the assistance of Mary Kay Thatcher, the Committee reviewed the balance of power in the House of Representatives, which currently stands at 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats. This review led to a discussion of the status of the budget and the cuts to crop insurance proposed by the administration. The Kind-Flake bill was also discussed, as were the appropriation bills currently being worked on. These bills will have the greatest impact on agriculture. Other issues considered by the Committee were the possibility of getting cottonseed oil included with other oilseeds, and shifting the dockage levels on peanuts to better reflect market needs.

Two speakers were invited in to provide us with greater clarity on certain topics. Lance Honig with NASS gave us an update on crop survey results and how NASS uses these responses to calculate payments. A comparison of NASS and RMA  data was made, noting that while RMA information is somewhat more accurate, it only reflects data from producers who carry crop insurance. The other speaker was Daren Bakst with the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation has done a number of reports critical of current agricultural policy. Some of their positions are;

  • Repeal the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs.
  • Seek Private Solutions to Risk Management.
  • Separate Food Stamps from Agricultural Programs.

They also advocate some positions closer to AFBF policy, such as freeing agricultural trade from intervention and opposition to mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food.

For more information about these issues, contact Nicole Rolf, Montana Farm Bureau’s director of national affairs and eastern Montana regional manager at nicoler@mfbf.org or call her at 406-232-1559. Visit fbadvocacy.org for more information on how to advocate on important issues like this. 

About the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committee:

Five Montana Farm Bureau members have been selected to serve on the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committees (IAC).  This is the second year for the IAC programs, which have been changed from the previous commodity committees.

The IAC was formed so membership would have substantial input in refining and implementing AFBF policy objectives.  IAC members work throughout the year talking with the media to helping develop comments on regulations, giving testimony at Congressional hearings and providing direct input to the resolutions process, among other services to their fellow farmers and ranchers.

Read more about the Federal Lands Committee from Tom DePuydt, the Environmental Advisory Committee from Gary Heibertshausen, and the Market Structures Committee from Larry Switzer.

 


April 22nd, 2016: Value-added agriculture at Mountain Meadows Pet Products

The 2016 Montana Young Farmer & Rancher Ag Tour is coming up May 20-21, and the first stop on the tour is a visit to Mountain Meadows Pet Products. Guest blogger Jennie Anderson is on the Tour planning committee and a member of the Sweet Grass County Farm Bureau. 

So, what do domestic pets like cats, parrots and hamsters have to do with Montana agriculture?

Mountain Meadows Pet ProductsWhen referring to Mountain Meadows Pet Products, the answer is plenty. Mountain Meadows buys local grains and forages and turns them into an innovative array of products. In other words, they may be best known for kitty litter, but this company is a diverse operation and an important player in Montana agriculture. Here are a few things you might not know about Mountain Meadows.

  • Mountain Meadow litterProducing kitty and other pet litter and bedding is indeed a large part of Mountain Meadows business. However, what makes these litters unique is the main fiber used in the litter is a Western Red Winter Wheatgrass grown here in Montana. This plant has outstanding absor
    bability and odor eliminating qualities, which make it an excellent choice for manufacturing pet litter. Another value of the wheatgrass is that it is a renewable resource. The litters easily biodegrade upon disposal and also make great compost material.
  • Mountain Meadows also buys a variety of grains and large quantities of yellow peas from Montana producers and then blends and processes these ingredients together to sell to pet food companies. This is another large part of Mountain Meadows business and a great diversified use of Montana crops.
  • In addition to pet food and litters, Mountain Meadows also uses alfalfa, barley, grasses and straw to make a variety of pellets to serve different purposes. For instance, they produce a barley pellet to be placed in landowners’ ponds to ward off harmful algae. They even take unwanted straw and grass hay and produce a stove pellet that they use to heat their own facilities.

As you can see Mountain Meadows Pet Products is an innovative company with an emphasis on sustainability and focused on utilizing the varied crops produced by Montana agriculture. Tour attendees will be able to view the company’s new facilities first hand and participate in a full plant tour.

Join the Montana Young Farmers and Ranchers May 20-21 in Lewistown, Montana for the 2016 Young Farmer & Rancher Tour. For more information, visit the event Facebook page or register online at www.mfbf.org.

 YF&R Tour 2016


April 19th, 2016: Monitoring the markets that impact Montana’s farmers, ranchers

Welcome to the third installment of our guest blogging series from Farm Bureau members who represent Montana on national Issues Advisory Committees. Larry Switzer serves as a board member of the McCone County Farm Bureau.

Larry Switzer, Montana rancher

Larry Switzer on his ranch near Richey, Montana. Larry serves on the American Farm Bureau’s Market Structures Issues Advisory Committee.

My name is Larry Switzer.  I own and operate LJ Switzer Ranch west of Richey, Montana. This is a family ranch where I was born and raised and have raised my own children. I have three children;  daughter  Kaci Jansma, who is a physician assistant, living in Laurel, Montana; son Tate, who lives at Vaughn, Montana and works for Mountain West Ag Service, a livestock feed and mineral manufacturing company, and son Trey, who is attending Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyoming.  My wife, Charlene, divides her time between the ranch and her job in Billings with Northern Broadcasting System.

This is a cow/calf operation where we run around 400 head of mother cows and have a small amount of dryland farming. I raise my own black replacement heifers and sell black-baldy replacement heifers and feeder steers. I truly enjoy ranching and being self employed, but I am looking forward to the time when one or both of my boys return to the ranch full time.  Self employment is much better when you are not by yourself!

I am a member of McCone County Farm Bureau and serve on the county board.  I have been a Farm Bureau member since my college years and have previously served as county president and also on the state board of directors.

The Issue Advisory Committee that I serve on is Market Structures.  This committee’s working area includes checkoff programs, credit markets, commodity markets & futures, GIPSA, marketing/bargaining, and retail production standards.  I hope to be able to present the views of a cow/calf producer as it relates to some of these areas. Also, I am very familiar with the Beef Checkoff program having served on the Montana Beef Council, the Federation of State Beef Councils and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

Packers & Stockyard Act, High Frequency Trading

All of the agriculture in Montana is affected by at least one of the areas this committee deals with, so the actions taken by the committee will be in an effort to affect favorably policy decisions by the American Farm Bureau Federation board first and then Congress or regulatory agencies who control so much of what we do to make a living.

We have worked primarily on two issues in this committee so far. Our first focus is working to get some changes made to the Packers & Stockyards Act to get it to reflect the value of cattle in today’s marketplace in relation to the amount of bond that is put up by livestock dealers.  We have recommended changes in the way dealers are bonded that would better protect livestock producers in the event of an occurrence that results in non-payment to the producer.

The other issue is the use of High Frequency Trading  (HFT)  by commodity traders that utilizes computer programs to make trades at the rate of up to 200 per second.  These can result in wild swings in the cash price of commodity producers that have little or no relation to market news or events.  This is an area that will not have easy solutions but we did have discussions with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

For more information about these issues, contact Nicole Rolf, Montana Farm Bureau’s director of national affairs and eastern Montana regional manager at nicoler@mfbf.org or call her at 406-232-1559. Visit fbadvocacy.org for more information on how to advocate on these issues. 

About the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committee:

Five Montana Farm Bureau members have been selected to serve on the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committees (IAC).  This is the second year for the IAC programs, which have been changed from the previous commodity committees.

The IAC was formed so membership would have substantial input in refining and implementing AFBF policy objectives.  IAC members work throughout the year talking with the media to helping develop comments on regulations, giving testimony at Congressional hearings and providing direct input to the resolutions process, among other services to their fellow farmers and rancher.

Read more about the Federal Lands Committee from Tom DePuydt and the Environmental Advisory Committee from Gary Heibertshausen.


Page 1 of 1612345...10...Last »