Welcome to the third installment of our guest blogging series from Farm Bureau members who represent Montana on national Issues Advisory Committees. Larry Switzer serves as a board member of the McCone County Farm Bureau.

My name is Larry Switzer.  I own and operate LJ Switzer Ranch west of Richey, Montana. This is a family ranch where I was born and raised and have raised my own children. I have three children;  daughter  Kaci Jansma, who is a physician assistant, living in Laurel, Montana; son Tate, who lives at Vaughn, Montana and works for Mountain West Ag Service, a livestock feed and mineral manufacturing company, and son Trey, who is attending Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyoming.  My wife, Charlene, divides her time between the ranch and her job in Billings with Northern Broadcasting System.

This is a cow/calf operation where we run around 400 head of mother cows and have a small amount of dryland farming. I raise my own black replacement heifers and sell black-baldy replacement heifers and feeder steers. I truly enjoy ranching and being self employed, but I am looking forward to the time when one or both of my boys return to the ranch full time.  Self employment is much better when you are not by yourself!

I am a member of McCone County Farm Bureau and serve on the county board.  I have been a Farm Bureau member since my college years and have previously served as county president and also on the state board of directors.

The Issue Advisory Committee that I serve on is Market Structures.  This committee's working area includes checkoff programs, credit markets, commodity markets & futures, GIPSA, marketing/bargaining, and retail production standards.  I hope to be able to present the views of a cow/calf producer as it relates to some of these areas. Also, I am very familiar with the Beef Checkoff program having served on the Montana Beef Council, the Federation of State Beef Councils and the Cattlemen's Beef Board.

Packers & Stockyard Act, High Frequency Trading

All of the agriculture in Montana is affected by at least one of the areas this committee deals with, so the actions taken by the committee will be in an effort to affect favorably policy decisions by the American Farm Bureau Federation board first and then Congress or regulatory agencies who control so much of what we do to make a living.

We have worked primarily on two issues in this committee so far. Our first focus is working to get some changes made to the Packers & Stockyards Act to get it to reflect the value of cattle in today's marketplace in relation to the amount of bond that is put up by livestock dealers.  We have recommended changes in the way dealers are bonded that would better protect livestock producers in the event of an occurrence that results in non-payment to the producer.

The other issue is the use of High Frequency Trading  (HFT)  by commodity traders that utilizes computer programs to make trades at the rate of up to 200 per second.  These can result in wild swings in the cash price of commodity producers that have little or no relation to market news or events.  This is an area that will not have easy solutions but we did have discussions with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

For more information about these issues, contact Nicole Rolf, Montana Farm Bureau’s director of national affairs and eastern Montana regional manager at nicoler@mfbf.org or call her at 406-232-1559. Visit fbadvocacy.org for more information on how to advocate on these issues. 

About the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committee:

Five Montana Farm Bureau members have been selected to serve on the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committees (IAC).  This is the second year for the IAC programs, which have been changed from the previous commodity committees.

The IAC was formed so membership would have substantial input in refining and implementing AFBF policy objectives.  IAC members work throughout the year talking with the media to helping develop comments on regulations, giving testimony at Congressional hearings and providing direct input to the resolutions process, among other services to their fellow farmers and rancher.

Read more about the Federal Lands Committee from Tom DePuydt and the Environmental Advisory Committee from Gary Heibertshausen.