Aug. 30, 2018

Pack your blue jeans and head for Billings to attend the Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture (WSFA) Conference! This year’s conference will be held October 2-4 at the DoubleTree Hotel.

The annual conference began in 2001 and has evolved each year since, and is now planned by a committee of agriculture-minded ladies from across the state. Their mission is to empower women involved in all sectors of agriculture through education, collaboration and networking, to ensure the success of farms and ranches across the region.

This year’s agenda promises to give attendees a blend of education, entertainment and inspiration. Topics covered this year range from the Farm Bill and financial strategies to overcoming the opioid epidemic and alternative forages. Attendees can interact with presenters during the popular Women in Business panel, and new this year, the Generational Differences panel with a range of Montana agriculture couples sharing their success and failures as they forge their way. This year’s keynote speaker will tackle the difficult topic of suicide in rural communities through “Lipstick, Laughter and Life” with inspiration and motivational speaker, Renee Rongen.

Register by September 9 and receive early bird pricing at $70 ($90 after September 10), which includes all meals and speakers. Hotel reservations also need to be made by September 9 to receive a rate of $109. For all the details, visit the website at www.womensteppingforward.org.


Editor's Note: In November, the Montana Stockgrowers Association signed a "memorandum of agreement (MOA) to facilitate collaboration on Montana sourced beef to China as well as the potential investment in Montana.," a stockgrowers press release said. That agreement now appears to be threatened by recent trade announcements by the US and China.

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2018) - Kent Bacus, Director of International Trade and Market Access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today issued the following statement regarding the announcement that China has included American-produced beef on a list of proposed retaliatory tariffs:

“It is unsettling to see American-produced beef listed as a target for retaliation. Sadly, we are not surprised, as this is an inevitable outcome of any trade war. This is a battle between two governments, and the unfortunate casualties will be America’s cattlemen and women and our consumers in China. The Trump Administration has until the end of May to resolve this issue. We believe in trade enforcement, but endless retaliation is not a good path forward for either side.” 

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has represented America's cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy.  As the largest association of cattle producers, NCBA works to create new markets and increase demand for beef.  Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

(Nov 8) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Cross Four Ranch, and Chinese eCommerce retailer JD.com, today, signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to facilitate collaboration on Montana sourced beef to China as well as the potential investment in Montana.

This agreement transpired following Daines’ agricultural roundtable where Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Chinese business representatives, and Montana agricultural leaders discussed potential opportunities for expanding Montana beef exports.

“While there are details to be finalized, this MOA represents a great step in the right direction for Montana ranchers and the state of Montana,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of MSGA. “The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks, Sen. Daines for his work on expanding opportunities and access to overseas markets for Montana ranchers, particularly in lifting the ban on U.S. beef in China earlier this year. ”

The agreement is proposed for an initial three years, with a minimum commitment of $200 million in Montana beef to be imported by JD.com from MSGA members. Beef is the fastest growing sector in China and the world’s fastest growing overseas market for beef.

In addition to the $200 million proposed procurement, JD intends to invest up to another $100 million to build a brand-new processing facility in Montana to support Montana beef production.

Click HERE to read the official signing agreement. For additional information, please contact the MSGA office at 406-442-3420.



Aug. 25, 20017

Helena, Mont. – Brucellosis has been found in a heifer within Montana’s Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), according to the Montana Department of Livestock. The Dept. released the information Thursday.
The brucellosis-infected animal was first identified during voluntary herd testing on a Madison County ranch. Infection was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA by tissue culture following euthanasia of the animal. The ranch has been placed under quarantine and the department has initiated an epidemiological investigation. Testing of all other animals on the ranch is already underway. “This animal previously tested negative in December of 2016, indicating this is a recent infection,” said State Veterinarian, Marty Zaluski. “Because of the continued risk of transmission from positive elk in the DSA, we expect transmission to domestic cattle or bison to occasionally occur.” Producers with cattle or bison in the DSA are subject to increased identification and testing requirements. “Through the significant efforts of veterinarians and producers, we are able to find these cases early and within the boundaries of our DSA, thus protecting our state as well as our trading partners,” Zaluski said. This is the 9th brucellosis affected herd found since the creation of the DSA in 2010. In all three Greater Yellowstone Area states, elk have been determined to be the likely source of infection in livestock. The disease investigation and pending results from genetic fingerprinting (genotyping) of the cultured bacteria will help the department better understand the source of infection in this case. The mission of the Montana Department of Livestock is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the Montana Department of Livestock, visit www.liv.mt.gov.

Big Sky Connection

Eric Tegethoff

February 15, 2017

HELENA, Mont. - Nearly 325 organizations have signed a letter pressing new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make sure the Justice Department does its job without political interference when it looks at a proposal to let Dow Chemical and DuPont, Monsanto and Bayer, and Syngenta and ChemChina merge.

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food-futures campaigner of Friends of the Earth, says her group and others want Congress to provide oversight, because President Donald Trump met with the CEOs of Monsanto just before he was inaugurated.

"It raised a lot of ethics questions for lawyers who are very well versed in anti-trust law, because they said that this is very uncommon; that presidents hardly ever, and really in history, have not interfered in this way," she explained.

The letter says if all three deals were to close, the newly-created companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world's pesticide market, more than 60 percent of commercial seed sales, and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market. Trump has said the mergers would create jobs and boost the U.S. economy.

Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, says big mergers are bad for the environment, small farmers, rural communities and consumers. He cites climate change as one reason the nation needs more diversified and competitive development.

"There's little incentive for these companies to do further research and development on these seeds," he said. "We all worry about having too few strains or genes in those seeds. If we become too dependent, we'll look just like Ireland did in the potato famine."

Lisa Griffith, interim director of the National Family Farm Coalition, says when these mergers happen, prices go up and some seed varieties disappear.

"A lot of these varieties that are available from the agri-chemical corporations are GM varieties, genetically modified, which may not be what the farmer wants," said Griffith.

Local groups signing the letter include the Montana Organic Association, the University of Montana Real Food Challenge, and Environment Montana.