Welcome to our newest guest blogging series from Farm Bureau members who represent Montana on national Issues Advisory Committees. Gary Heibertshausen serves as the vice president of Powder River/Carter Co. Farm Bureau and the District 5 Director on the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Board.

My wife Joyce and I manage a sheep ranch in Southeast Montana. We came to Montana in 2010 to ranch. Before that we farmed with our kids in Ohio. I also managed in seed, fertilizer, and chemical company.

I currently serve on the Environmental Advisory Committee for the American Farm Bureau. This committee covers a large area of topics including, but not limited to, the Endangered Species Act and clean air issues.  One of the goals of the committee is to inform our members and the non ag public of what farmers and ranchers are doing to help in these areas and inform their Congressmen. Living in one of the core ESA areas, I bring to the committee some of the first hand info on what is happening to our industry and way of life.

The committee is made up of Farm Bureau members across the country. We work to make information available for members. Also, I feel being there for Montana and being part of the committee we offer a broader voice than just separate states.

We have been working through the ESA issues for several years. Now the EPA is throwing in tighter regulations on carbon levels and cleaner energy. We all want clean air, however we may be getting regulated into a situation we as farmers and ranchers in Montana can not win. The new levels of air quality would require in energy production to more wind and solar however, under the ESA we are limited on those due to habitat concerns.

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.