Five legislators received awards for support of agriculture and rural Montana during the Montana Farm Bureau Summer Conference June 7-9 in Great Falls.

Representative Josh Kassmier, HD 27, Fort Benton and Senator Mike Lang, SD 71, Malta, received the Outstanding Friend of Farm Bureau Award. This award is given to the Senator and Representative who had the highest overall scores on MFBF’s legislative scorecard; these legislators demonstrated their support of Montana agriculture through their voting record, bill sponsorship and leadership within various committees.

“Representative Kassmier is the ‘boots on the hill’ we always talk about. As a crop adjuster, he spends every day working in agriculture,” said MFBF President Hans McPherson. “In addition to his passion for agriculture, Rep. Kassmier has always had a strong interest in politics and policy, shown by his background of a degree in political science, as well as his experience working in Washington, D.C.”

Senator Lang, who served as chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, gained one of the highest scores from the Montana Farm Bureau in the organization’s history.

“Senator Lang is certainly an example of a great legislator. He is a small town business owner and longtime rural Montanan,” said McPherson. “He fully understands the needs and concerns of our rural lifestyle. and always considers the best interests of agriculture and Montana’s farm and ranch families. We value his thoughtfulness, insight and dependability. We are honored to work with him.”

Senatorss Duane Ankney, SD 20, Colstrip, and Brian Hoven, SD-13, Great Falls, received the Distinguished Service Golden Plow Award. This award is given to a termed-out legislator who has exhibited exemplary service and dedication to agriculture as their tenure as a Montana legislator.

“While after 16 years of service Senator Ankney is known for his depth of knowledge in natural resources, especially when it comes to coal, he has always had the back of agriculture and supported Montana Farm Bureau,” noted McPherson. “This legislator is more than deserving of the Golden Plow Award, with constant high marks from Farm Bureau and undoubting support for the industry.”

McPherson said of Senator Hoven, “He has been a dynamic member of the legislature. As Chair of the Senate Taxation Committee as well as serving on the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee, Montana Farm Bureau worked with Sen. Hoven frequently during his time in the legislature. With three terms in the house and another four terms in the Senate, Senator Hoven has truly earned the Golden Plow award. We appreciate his commitment to agriculture and will greatly miss the opportunity to work with him at the 2023 legislative session.”

The Rookie of the Year Award is presented to a freshman legislator who went above and beyond in learning the legislative process and doing his best to serve agriculture and rural Montana. This year, the recipient was Representative Kenneth Walsh.

“Representative Walsh has been engaged and motivated since he decided to run for office. He first came to the MFBF Campaign School in March 2020 where Farm Bureau began its friendship with him,” said McPherson. “As a banker and rancher, he is a great representative of agriculture at the Capitol. He spent his first session serving on the House Agriculture Committee, House Natural Resources Committee and House State Administration Committee. He sponsored many bills that MFBF supported, including HB 94 which expands loan types in the Montana Farmer Loan Repayment Assistant Program and will help students get back to the farm or ranch. “We look forward to seeing Rep. Walsh’s future in the Montana Legislature.