Voting delegates to the Montana Farm Bureau Convention discussed, debated and voted on policy for the coming year. The Delegates Session is what makes Farm Bureau a unique grassroots organization; farmers and ranchers developing policy during their county annual meetings which is then voted on at the MFBF Convention. This year, the MFBF 100th Convention ran November 11-14 in Billings.

For the sixth year in a row, the delegates reaffirmed their support of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai (CSKT) Tribal Water Compact. The policy reads, “MFBF supports the negotiated water agreement between: the State of Montana, the federal government, the irrigators of the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.”

Grizzly bears are making news as they increase in numbers and range along the Rocky Mountain Front and into the Plains. The expansion is causing increased livestock losses and concern for farmers, ranchers and residents in those areas. With some of the delegates sharing their stories about predation and worries about personal injury and damages caused by Grizzly bears, delegates voted to support management methods including nuisance or conflict bears being tracked by ear tags, collars, and DNA with the resulting data being used for bear management and being made available to the public.  Delegates also passed a resolution supporting state-regulated hunting of delisted Grizzly bears.

With labor being a challenge for agriculturalists, delegates voted for increased workforce development/career and technical education for middle and high school students as well as providing higher education opportunities for workforce development including internships within agribusiness and production agriculture.

Other policies of note included analyzing annual legislative sessions, support for a state meat inspection system and supporting brand re-registration.

“I am always impressed when our farmer and rancher members come together and discuss the issues that are important to them,” said MFBF Executive Vice President John Youngberg. “They understand and work hard to develop the policy that drives our organization.”