Now that the elections are through I am so thankful that I don’t have to watch or listen to another campaign ad for at least another three months. I never dreamed I would look forward to the day when I could hear an ad for personal hygiene products or toilet paper. Regardless, I want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank all of those people who run for public office. It takes a lot to put yourself out in the public eye and subject yourselves to the constant criticism that seems to accompany any run for office today. To everyone who ran, “Thank You” and to the victors, “Congratulations."
With the campaigns behind us it is now time for the real work to begin for those elected to the Montana Statehouse and to Congress. It is a monumental task that lies in front of them. Important issues abound on both the state and national levels. Nationally, we eagerly await the president to sign the 2018 Farm Bill and the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. The list of national issues to tackle includes a workable Hours of Service rule for ag commodity truckers, the passage of the new proposed Clean Water Rule that include input from the regulated community as well as an ag labor policy that allows producers to hire seasonal workers.
On the state level, the Montana Legislature will wrestle with developing a balanced budget and a method of sustainable funding for infrastructure as well as Medicaid Expansion. Ag issues on the front burner will be streamlining water policy that allows for change yet protects our important prior appropriation system. Other water issues will include the protection of Montana’s waters from invasive species that threaten our irrigation, power generation and recreation economies. Although changes in previous sessions have taken Montana our of last place in Workers’ Compensation costs, there is much to be done to make our state a lucrative place to do business. Legislators will grapple with bills that mandate a statewide fire preparedness assessment as well as legislation giving OSHA management to the state of Montana. Our experienced legislative team will be busy on these and many other issues, armed with policies developed by you, the members of Montana Farm Bureau. Our 2019 Policy Book is included in this Spokesman.
As a grassroots organization it is vitally important that your legislators hear from you as well as our Legislative Team. Montana is a rare state where most of us know our senators and representatives. If you haven't had the opportunity, please take the time to congratulate them on their election and offer to be available to them if they have questions concerning legislation. Constituent opinion is extremely important to most legislators. We look forward to seeing members in Helena where their voices carry immense weight as spokespeople for Montana agriculture.
Check out page 31 of this Spokesman which has the dates and information on several Calling on the Capitol events Montana Farm Bureau will be hosting. These two-day programs provide a great opportunity to be briefed on current state issues, meet legislative leadership, sit in on committee hearings and enjoy breakfast with your elected officials. On February 13, stop by the Women’s Leadership breakfast in the Capitol (in front of the beautiful Fan Window) as the Montana Farm Bureau celebrates its 100th Birthday.
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