The American Farm Bureau’s Issue Advisory Committees gather farmer and rancher representatives from state Farm Bureaus to discuss issues and develop policy ideas concerning specific commodities or issues. Advisory committees meet to share ideas, information and discussion solutions to send back to the grassroots, local members for consideration. 

I am Tonya Liles from Terry, MT.  My husband and I ranch and run an Angus/Hereford cow calf operation.  Along with that, I am also a Veterinary Technician one day a week in Miles City.  I was nominated to serve a second  term on the Animal Care Issue Advisory Committee. 

The Animal Care meeting had many different topics discussed.  Feral hogs were brought up and everyone agreed that Montana needs to keep them out at all costs.  There was discussion on the Beef Checkoff and Electronic Logging Devices.  With the ELDs, there is a push to add 150 miles on the end of the trip, as well with 11 hours drive time and 10 hours rest, so that the livestock being hauled will have a lesser chance of being off loaded before their destination. 

Scott Bennett with American Farm Bureau spoke to us about what are sure to be the hot issues of 2020. Those included:  mandatory price reporting, traceability, gene editing, cell based protein, GIPSA, and animal rights activists. We learned about Farmers for a Sustainable Future and their goal of telling the true story of agriculture. Their website for more information is

Lauren Broccoli from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) spoke to us about animal antibiotics and having them pulled from over the counter locations so that they are only available through a veterinarian. This would mean that there will have to be a relationship between the client and the vet for antibiotics to be prescribed. There was some discussion about it not be readily available for the welfare of an animal when people are in need on weekends or the fact that many people live many miles away from a clinic. Lauren brought up that there is a loan repayment program for vet loans for those who will be working as a food animal vet. Our meeting ended with a motion to strike "voluntary” from paragraph #3 under 308 Livestock Identification in the Farm Bureau policy book. It was seconded and passed. A conference call for the committee will be set up for July for us to further discuss issues concerning animal care. 

Nicole Rolf set up some great meetings for us while we were in D.C.  We were able to tour the White House and view history of former presidents that resided there.  We then had a meeting with Senator Daines’ office where we discussed many issues pertaining to Montana:  WHIP+, Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Bison management and disease control, protesting on the Keystone pipeline, to name a few.  Then we headed to Senator Testers office and discussed ELDs in depth.  We also met with Lilly Brady from the USDA and spoke to her about broadband, CSP, traceability, and low rates on CRP. 

This was a great opportunity for Montana people to get out and be heard.  There are very few people from the western U.S. on my committee, so it was good to let them hear some of the issues we are facing.  Our voices need to be heard and being involved in meetings like these helps that happen.  I thank Montana Farm Bureau for the opportunity!