More than half of the agriculture-related bills Montana Farm Bureau member policy supported or opposed have either became law or died so far in the session, accordingly. An ever-growing number of other bills we’ve supported are through the second chamber and are headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Only a handful of the bills we’re tracking still have hearings or floor action ahead.
The 2021 Legislative Session is slowing down for sure, but we still have several important issues to stay focused on.
House Bill 660: Funding for Made in Montana program, sponsored by Rep. Josh Kassmier (R), HD 27. Montana Farm Bureau member policy supports.
The Made in Montana program is a huge asset to Montana farmers, ranchers, and business owners. The program encompasses the Made in Montana program, Grown in Montana program and Native American Made in Montana, offering a free marketing resource for many sorts of Montana producers. This bill would add $200,000 in additional funding to the program, an important boost that will build on its existing success.
We’ve been proud to support this bill throughout the legislative process, pointing out that our farming and ranching members believe that this existing, voluntary marketing program satisfies the demand for consumer transparency. Through the Made in Montana program, Montana farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to tell their customers where their food comes from and proudly offer consumers a choice to support Montana’s family farmers and ranchers.
This funding will allow the Made in Montana program to grow and offer more resources to the producers who choose to participate. So far, it’s passed in the House and has been concurred in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Senate Bill 249: Revise funding for the Montana Greater Sage-Grouse Stewardship Act, sponsored by Sen. Mike Lang (R), SD 17. Montana Farm Bureau member policy supports.
The Montana Sage Grouse Stewardship Act is a key piece of our state’s sage grouse management efforts. The purpose of this program is to explore how to maintain, enhance and benefit the sage grouse habitat and population.
This is important to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who care for valuable sage grouse habitat. We’re working hard to keep the sage grouse off the Endangered Species List, and the Greater Sage-Grouse Stewardship Act offers funding and others resources that help landowners mitigate risk for the birds. The Stewardship Act has historically been funded primarily through the Department of Natural Resources, where the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team is housed.
This bill would incorporate a cost-sharing mechanism so that the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks can also contribute to this program. This just makes good sense and offers another logical funding source to care for this shared wildlife responsibility.
Now passed into law:
We’ve been able to celebrate a number of important bills signed into law recently. Senate Bill 58: Provide fund transfer for livestock losses added $100,000 from the state’s General Fund to the Livestock Loss Board’s prevention account to avert predation by grizzly bears, wolves and mountain lions.
House Bill 93: Expand materials certified under noxious weed seed free program allows the Department of Agriculture to create more options for certified weed-free materials. For example, the Department of Agriculture could now create certification standards for weed seed-free gravel pits, among other resources.
House Bill 142: Generally Revise Hemp Laws, revised current Montana hemp laws to comply with federal hemp laws, and allows the Montana Department of Agriculture the rule making authority it needs to adhere to ever-evolving federal laws or regulations.
Senate Bill 55: Revise the Process for Water Right Ownership Updates amended the process for water right ownership updates and created a certification process to resolve ownership disputes. This law now requires the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to update its records of water right ownership within 30 days of receiving notification regarding a change in water right holdings.
These are just a handful of the successes Montana farmers and ranchers can celebrate from the 2021 Legislative Session. For more legislative updates and details on these issues, follow our Live with Your Lobbyist broadcast each Friday at noon on our Montana Farm Bureau Facebook Page.
Nicole Rolf is the Senior Director of Governmental Affairs and a rancher from Miles City, Montana. Nicole works closely with our Congressional delegation on national issues affecting Montana agriculture. Additionally, this is her seventh Montana Legislative Session, lobbying in Helena on behalf of MFBF members. She also works as the Eastern Montana Regional Manager. Nicole can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Cone is the Director of State Affairs for Montana Farm Bureau Federation. This is Rachel’s first session lobbying on behalf of Montana Farm Bureau. Rachel is involved throughout the interim session to track how bills will come to the session. She also coordinates the MFBF Water Committee, the Resource Management, Environment and Technology Committee and the Livestock Committee in addition to being the Treasurer for the Farm Bureau PAC. Rachel can be contacted at email@example.com.
‘Made in Montana’ program up for additional funding to support local marketing efforts
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