I grew up working on my family’s large scale, dryland wheat farm north of Chester, Montana.  Until 5 years ago, we predominantly raised wheat, however with the development of the pulse market in Montana, we have shifted gears to participate in that market as well.  I was raised to always be involved in an organization that supports your industry, thus, our family is heavily involved in the Montana Grain Growers Association on a commodity level and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation to voice our needs on the entire farming operation, the ag industry, and the needs of rural Montana. 
After graduating from the REAL Montana Leadership program, I developed a greater responsibility and confidence to take on more leadership roles within these organizations. This Farm Bureau Issue Advisory Committee has giving me an opportunity to take on the task of leadership and represent Montana and our needs within farm policy and I hold great value in the amazing opportunity.  I am also currently serving as the Vice-President in the Hill-Liberty-Blaine County Farm Bureau as well as the Women’s Chair at both the county and state level.  Within this role, I hope to help bring ag educational opportunities into our local school system including an Ag Safety Program this spring.             
On March 8th, I had an opportunity to serve on a Farm Bureau Issue Advisory Committee that focused on Farm Policy.  With the 2018 Farm Bill soon to be released, it was the primary focus of our discussion.  For the most part Montana was pleased with the 2014 Farm Bill and would like to maintain the status quo, most importantly within crop insurance, but many of the commodity organizations as well as Montana Farm Bureau have requested some minor tweaks being made to Title 1, the commodity title. Montana’s Legislative delegation, American Farm Bureau, and most analysts expect a timely roll-out for the 2018 Farm Bill with work to begin next month.
One issue heavily discussed within our committee was the vast differences from state-to-state interpretations of NRCS’s conservation compliance in respects to swamp buster and sodbuster designations.  The ties between conservation and crop insurance is something commodity organizations and AFBF stand in opposition to, but through discussion, many producers are being held to a higher standard than others.  Our committee is working to develop policy to make these designations more standardized across the country and request the USDA to have a more timely and accurate response for producers.
With 16 states and multiple commodities represented at one table, the Issue Advisory Committees provide AFBF with timely direction on current policy.  The variance across our country on what works vs what doesn’t work creates a unique opportunity for AFBF to encompass all of American agriculture’s issues as an industry and the issues not only in farming, but in rural America. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in Ag, so being present at the table and having a voice for what works in Montana is critically important.
Montana has been adamant about what we NEED in a Farm Bill and our voice has been recognized by all of D.C.  The work we do as producers to reach out to our delegates in D.C. as well as creating policy within Montana Farm Bureau to take to the American Federation is vitally important.  American Farm Bureau is one of the most recognized, respected, and sought-out voices in Washington D.C. when it comes to ag and rural American issues.  We need to continue to develop solid policy at the grass-roots level on issues we are experiencing in our own operation, take them to the State level and defend them though the process at the national level.