Farm Bureau members Call on Capitol in Helena
Helena, Mont.—Meetings with legislators and agency directors plus learning to give testimony were part of the Montana Farm Bureau Calling on the Capitol February 6-7, 2023 in Helena. Calling on the Capitol provides MFBF members with a chance to learn about the political process in the state’s capital during the legislative session.
The event kicked off with legislative updates and training by the MFBF Legislative Team, followed by a history of Montana politics presentation and a reception in the Capitol Rotunda where legislators and legislative staff could learn about Farm Bureau and visit with their constituents. Tuesday morning featured visits with Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Director of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Hank Worsech, Director of the Department of Agriculture Christy Clark and Department of Livestock Executive Officer Mike Honeycutt.
The group found their meeting with Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras inspiring, thanking her for her work on the Red Tape Initiative to streamline government regulations, along with discussing water bills, the progress on de-listing grizzly bears, and rural community issues.
“I really appreciate the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s passion and direction,” said Ronan rancher Josh Senecal. “It was an excellent visit and we had a very good discussion on issues of concern for people in agriculture.”
Members sat in on the Senate and House Floor Sessions, both of which recognized the 40 members in the galleries at the Legislature. They also had the opportunity to sit in on committee hearings, with a few members testifying.
Although MFBF has always brought groups to the Capitol during the legislative session, this is the first year they combined the different Calling on the Capitols to have a large group. “This was a great event for those who have attended many times, and for first-timers,” said MFBF President Cyndi Johnson. “It gives you a sense of pride to see Farm Bureau participating in the political process in our state. I loved seeing our young people putting pen to paper to develop their testimonies and their leadership skills. At this event, we get to know each other better and learn about the potential of our organization. It always makes me excited to come to these events and realize the impact Montana Farm Bureau has in this state on agricultural issues.”
This was the first time Joe Lackman, a Montana State University sophomore, had been to Helena. “As president of the Collegiate Farm Bureau, I considered Calling on the Capitol a great opportunity to see the legislative process and hear legislative updates for our members,” said the young farmer from Hysham. “It was interesting to watch the Floor Sessions and see how bills are voted on. I really enjoyed Jon Bennion providing us with a history of politics in Montana, the trends, and how politics has changed since the 1940s. This was a great way for me to learn more being here in person.”
District 8 Director Ed Bandel has attended several COTCs, and said there is always something to learn. “It’s always interesting to see how our state government works and what issues they’re addressing,” said the Floweree wheat farmer. “It’s impressive that we can come here to visit with the different agencies and our legislators, and have the chance to express our opinions.”
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