I’m Wes Jensen and along with my dad and my wife Cheryl we run a cow/calf operation called Jensen Brothers near Circle.  In 1910, my grandfather emigrated from Denmark and homesteaded a mile and a half from where we now live.  Over time our ranch evolved into a corporation with my dad and his two brothers.  Now, 108 years later, it is Dad, Cheryl, and I.  We are strictly a cow/calf operation with a little farm ground to raise hay.  We calve in March and April and sell the calves in the fall, usually to feedlots in Nebraska. 

I was the president of McCone county Farm Bureau and Cheryl served as secretary.  Currently I serve on the MFBF Board as the District 6 director.  I am also on the MFB Foundation board, and serve on the Mountain West Farm Bureau insurance board.   All of this has been a stretch for me at times, so I encourage everyone to step up and get involved.  I have had the privilege to meet some great people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.   

I was one of the applicants selected to participate in the first

Advocacy and Action Incentive Program Fly-In, this past summer.  The trip to DC is intended to put a face on Montana Farm Bureau (MFBF), and hopefully educate our Congressmen as to where we stand and why.  I also attended to experience the process of how to communicate where we stand at the same time learning what they are working on that is impacting Montana agriculture. 

At the time of our visit, the Farm Bill had just been passed by both Houses, so we discussed some of the differences between the two and pointed out what MFBF felt was the best in each one.  The point was made regarding the seriousness of the depressed farm economy and how important the trade agreements are. Trade has a direct impact because Montana relies on exporting all our different commodities.    

The time we spent with the USDA Trade Representatives was very interesting and reassuring that progress was being made.  We made sure to thank the Congressmen for passing the Farm Bills and the work on the new labor bill being introduced, which has some very positive agriculture possibilities.  Finding labor is becoming a big problem for Montana agriculture, so a well written labor bill is crucial.  

Everyone needs to be informed and involved.  We sometimes feel like our voices are not heard, but after being to DC, I realized the only time that happens is when you don’t say anything at all.  MFBF and American Farm Bureau are both good at keeping you updated on current issues.  They even go so far as to writing up suggested comments to assist you in communicating your concerns regarding these issues.  I saw first-hand the importance of your own words and the impact it makes. 

This trip made me more aware of how making comments, whether through email, by phone, or face-to-face is vitally important.  Being able to communicate directly with our congressmen is not only an honor, but also an opportunity to share some grassroots information that they can put to use.  I encourage any member to apply for the Action and Advocacy Incentive Program.