In June, we finished a very successful, well attended, informative and very fun celebratory Montana Farm Bureau Summer Conference. It was great to see people from all corners of the state working on committees for our grassroots policy development. It was impressive to have informative presentations and enlightening sessions with engaging speakers.
As we watched the videos and the presentations on issues Montana Farm Bureau faced 100 years ago, it was apparent many of the same issues that farmers faced in Montana in 1919 are almost identical to the ones we are facing in 2019. Farmers of today are facing issues like tariffs, overreaching governmental regulations and markets that are so low they’ve gone off the charts. Just as 100 years ago farmers joined together to combat many of the same issues at the end of World War I, it is imperative that we maintain a strong, vibrant Montana Farm Bureau.
At our summer conference, it was interesting to see the reprinted articles that were made into posters and hung on the walls during our MFB Foundation Fundraiser in Wright’s Big Yellow Barn.
These included headlines like: How Will You Ship Your Livestock (1918): A Crisis For Farming; Drought In Northern Montana (We Need Help By the Government) (1919). (I might mention as an aside that one newspaper had an ad for a Fordson Tractor that cost $802.50!)
Our numbers are declining as only two percent of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture. Farm Bureau provides you with a voice. Montana Farm Bureau has been a powerhouse in our legislature for a long time. During our summer conference as we presented awards to our state legislators from the 2019 legislative session, it was obvious how well-respected Montana Farm Bureau lobbyists and policies are in Helena.
I can’t help but think as we celebrate our centennial that we are fortunate in Montana to be receiving rain as well as sunshine. Yes, there have been some delays getting our crops into the ground, but so many farmers across America are suffering from severe floods and calamities of all sorts that are preventing people from even planting their crops. It can truly be depressing.
Farmer suicide, as highlighted in the 2019 Spring Spokesman, has become a sad reality. The opioid crisis is an epidemic. In fact, American Farm Bureau in partnership with the Montana Farmers Union has kicked off its Farm Town Strong program to combat opioid addiction in rural America. The big difference between 1919 and now is there are less of us as a percentage of the overall population. This means we need to work harder than ever to get our message to the general public about the work farmers and ranchers do and the danger of not understanding when farmers need assistance due to catastrophic weather events and international strife that can affect trade and our livelihood. As we look at the raft of other problems facing farmers its more important than ever to have one united voice in Helena and in Washington, D.C.
It was great to see so many members in Bozeman celebrating our 100th year anniversary. Wishing you a fall harvest that has your grain bins overflowing, your cattle at the end of the price slide and your sugar beets setting tonnage records. See you for the 100th Montana Farm Bureau Annual Convention November 11-14 in Billings!
Keep in mind that means the convention runs Monday through Thursday. We will continue to celebrate our centennial year and hope all of our members can join us as we continue the good work of those farmers and ranchers started 100 years ago.
Article originally printed in the 2019 Summer Spokesman.
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