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Producers dealing with changing weather on the Hi-Line Derek Hann dshann@havredailynews.com Local farmers and ranchers have had to deal with drier weather and shifting weather patterns in recent years, but some are at odds with scientists about whether climate change is the cause. Both sides agree that producers have to adapt to what the weather brings each year and still produce their crops and livestock. Montana State University Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science Professor Bruce D. Maxwell said that the large majority of scientists agree that the presence of greenhouse gasses has contributed to climate change. “I don’t think there is much question about that,” he said. “Even if there was — whatever is causing it, we’d better be preparing for it, especially those who are on the front lines of weather, and that’s agriculture.” Local producers have a similar opinion about what they have to do. Kremlin area farmer Ryan McCormick said that people have collected enough scientific data to support the existence of climate change, but the need to adapt agricultural operations cannot be pinpointed to one specific thing. “Climate change is interesting,” he said. “People want to make out like farmers think that it’s some death-defying thing. But to be frank with you, I mean, that’s kind of our job, to change with the times.” He added that weather is something that is constantly changing within the agricultural community and producers always have to attempt to adapt. Some producers in other states, such as North Dakota, have already started changing over their crop production to producing more corn and soybeans. If the weather is warming up, then producers need to start planting more warm-season crops, if the weather is cooling down, they need to start planting more colder season crops, he said. “I think that climate change is natural and it’s been happening since the last ice age,” he said. “… We just deal with it as it comes.” Montana Environmental Information Center Deputy Director Anne Hedges said that climate change is a problem, not only for agricultural markets but everywhere around the world. She added that instead of people arguing if the data is accurate or if climate change is real, people need to be more focused on finding a solution. “It doesn’t cost much to deal with it,” she said. “The consequences of dealing with climate change can lead to a lot of improvements. It’s not outlandish.” Denying climate change won’t work in the long term, she added. A number of producers have already started to change the way they are doing business, changing how Havre Daily News/File photo Hay stands in a field in Hill County. Local farmers say they have had to adjust in some recent years to having wetter springs and falls and drier summers than they are used to.

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Producers reminded of new livestock loss payment requirements Press release HELENA — Montana’s Livestock Loss Board pays livestock owners for verified livestock losses due to wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions. Senate Bill 133 was passed during Montana’s 2019 legislative session and requires a livestock owner to be current on their per-capita fees in order to receive a payment from the State for their loss. A portion of the text of SB133 bill is as follows: (b) Before the board may issue a reimbursement for losses to a livestock producer eligible for coverage for losses, the

department of revenue shall certify that the livestock producer has paid per capita fees as required by 15-24-921. Except for a tribal member or tribal entity participating in an authorized agreement pursuant to 2-15-3113, a livestock producer may not receive a reimbursement for losses until the producer has paid any delinquent percapita fees. Anyone owning livestock is annually required to pay per-capita fees. While not all livestock are covered for loss, there is still a requirement to pay fees on cattle, sheep, goats, horses, mules, swine, poultry, bees, llamas, alpacas, bison, domestic

ungulates, ostriches, rheas and emus. Percapita fees help fund the Department of Livestock activities such as monitoring animal health, preventing and investigating livestock theft and managing predators. Montana’s Department of Revenue collects per-capita fees for the Department of Livestock. If you have not paid your fees, contact them at 406-444-6900 or visit their website at: https://mtrevenue.gov/%20 property/property-types/livestock . More information on per-capita fees can also be found on the Department of Livestock’s website at: http://liv.mt.gov/ Centralized-Services/Per-Capita-Fees or

by calling 406-444-4993. People who suspect their livestock loss is due to wolves, grizzly bears or mountain lions should call USDA Wildlife Services at 406-657-6464 to request an investigation. The Livestock Loss Board can only pay claims for confirmed or probable death loss verified by USDA Wildlife Services. The mission of the DOL 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 department, visit http://www.liv.mt.gov .

Registration open for USDA 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum From U.S. Department of Agriuculture WASHINGTON — Registration is now open for the 96th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, the largest annual meeting and premiere event of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two-day Forum will take place Feb. 20-21 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The 2020 Forum, themed “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture,” will feature more than 30 sessions covering topics such as innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, frontiers in conservation, and the science of food safety. In addition, USDA chief economist will unveil the department’s outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade in 2020 and discuss the U.S. farm income situation. An exhibit hall will showcase resources from USDA agencies and private organizations.

The 2020 Forum’s program will be announced at the beginning of November. USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum began in 1923 to distribute and interpret national forecasts to farmers in the field. The goal was to provide the information developed through economic forecasting to farmers so they had the tools to read market signals and avoid producing beyond demand. Since then, the forum has developed into a unique platform where key stakeholders from the agricultural sector in the United States and around the world come together every year to discuss current and emerging topics and trends in the sector. On average, 1,600 people attend the forum each year. The Agricultural Outlook Forum, which is organized by USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist together with other USDA agencies, is independent of commercial inter-

ests and aims to facilitate information sharing among stakeholders and generate the transparency that leads to well-functioning open markets. T h e U S DA Fu t u re Le a d e rs i n Agriculture Program selects undergraduate and graduate students in agriculturerelated studies for a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. During their visit, students will attend the Outlook Forum and take part in a USDA briefing, discuss career opportunities with agriculture leaders in academia, government and industry, and tour the nation’s capital. Winners receive free registration, transportation and lodging. For more information about this realworld training experience in agribusiness, scientific research, and agricultural policy, people may apply for the Future Leaders in Agriculture Program. More information is available at https://www.usda.gov/oce/

fo r u m / F L A / 2 0 2 0 _ U S DA _ AO F _ F u t u r e _ Le a d e rs _ i n _ A g r i c u l t u re _ Pro g ra m _ Application.pdf . As part of the Agricultural Outlook Forum, USDA offers a pre-forum field trip for early arrivals. The 2020 pre-forum trip will focus on urban agriculture. It will feature a local urban farm enterprise and a visit with scientists who conduct research on microgreens, locally adapted fruit varieties and other urban farming topics at USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. A nominal fee covers transportation and a boxed lunch. Visit the Agricultural Outlook Forum website  at https://www.usda.gov/oce/ forum/index.htm to register, reserve discounted room rates, join the pre-forum field trip, or apply for the USDA Future Leaders in Agriculture Program. Follow the conversation at #AgOutlook on USDA’s  Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


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FSA county committee ballots mailed out From USDA Farm Service Agency WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin mailing ballots on Nov. 4 to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the Farm Service Agency county committee elections. “Our county committee members play a key role in our efforts to provide assistance to producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We value the local input of the over 7,000 members nationwide who

provide their valuable knowledge and judgment as decisions are made about the services we provide, including disaster and emergency programs.” To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by Dec. 2. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. Newly elected

c o m m i t t e e m e m b e rs w i l l ta ke o f f i c e January 1, 2020. County committee members help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.  Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Producers who supervise and conduct the farming

operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote. Producers can find out if their  local administrative area is up for election and if they are eligible to vote by contacting their local FSA county office. Eligible voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail can pick one up at their local FSA county office. People can visit  http://fsa.usda.gov/elections for more information. 

Changing weather: Maxwell: Producers need to start planting 5-15 crop species ■ Continued from page 6 fine during the hot summers, but because the nights have cooler temperatures because of climate change it is becoming more and more of a struggle. The issue has caused an effort to improve the genetics of cattle, to allow them to better withstand the climate, he said. He added that researchers and producers are also looking into modifying the behavior and system to better support those animals under the predicted weather conditions. People can also look into using multi-species cover crops to better improve forage for animals, he said. That entails a producer having five to 15 different species of crops, he said. He added that at least one will do well in any given year and help better support the forage throughout the year. “Those are all strategies that I think are going to be the way of the future,” Maxwell said. He added that a number of things are being done and can be done to better-improve cropping systems. In the mid- to latecentury, experts predict the world population to be between 9 to 10 billion people, and they all will need a source of protein. To betterimprove cropping systems to accommodate the needs, he said, producers cannot be focusing on growing feed for cattle, but focus on growing high-protein crops. It is inefficient to have cattle or livestock to be a main source of protein, he said. But, he added, it may be an actual benefit to Montana’s cattle market. The appetite for meat is increasing across the globe, in some of the fastest-

Havre Daily News/File photo Heifers and steers wait in holding pens at Hill County Scale Association in October 2015 to be shipped to market. Local ranchers say they have to adapt their operation to changes in the weather, but some point out that that always was the case and express skepticism that climate change is the cause. growing, high-population countries around the world such as China and Indonesia, Maxwell said. As cattle production moves

farther into the midwest, moving to places such as Montana, meat production will become more important.

“We should set ourselves up,” he said.

The agricultural industry Mccormick said north-central Montana has always had dramatic swings in weather. He added that his father was a farmer as well, starting the farm in the 1950s, and over the years, multiple things have been affecting agriculture for a variety of reasons — and they don’t always relate to the weather. “I don’t think you can point to any one thing,” he said. He said that in the past 10 years he has seen better-than-average crops, but it is a result of a combination of things, such as better science, better varieties and better fertility of the crops. He added that they also have better more current data to keep track of their crops, allowing producers to get a better idea of what to expect and how to improve. Low moisture has always been an issue in the area, as well as wildfires; it has been a problem as far back as he can remember, he said. Nystrom said his family has been ranching for generations and the biggest changes he has noticed have not been climate change but improvements in science. He added that ranchers currently have better vaccines, better breeding and a number of other improvements to increase efficiency in their cattle. Maxwell said that most farmers are used to having to adjust to different weather conditions, but the effects of climate change will be different than what they have been used to.

www.havredailynews.com they are planting and what time of year they are planting. “They know that something is going on,” she said. A number of progressive farmers are chanigng their techniques, Hedges said. “It’s not a political debate … it’s science,” she added. Conrad Nystrom, a rancher in the Bear Paw Mountains, said that he has been ranching for most of his life and was raised on his family’s ranch. He said that over the years he has been ranching he has experienced dry seasons and wet seasons, a number of years with droughts and floods, but the changes are not out-of-character for where he is. “I don’t really know if I can blame it on climate change for sure,” he said. The biggest things which impact ranching, he said, are the droughts and the cold weather. When a year has good rainfall, the cattle have good green grass to graze on and producers are growing good strong crops, but if a year is in a drought, the risk of wildfire goes up and the cattle do not have a lot to forage. During a drought, ranchers have to cut back on the number of cattle they run and not much hay is produced, and when it’s

■ See Changing weather Page 6 Havre Daily News/File photo Young winter wheat grows in north-central Montana in 2015. Experts say climate change is changing growing conditions in the Golden Triangle of Montana, but farmers are adapting to the changes and still producing good crops.

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Changing weather: Hedges: 'You have to look at the bigger picture' ■ Continued from page 5 cold it is harsh conditions for the calves. Nystrom added that in the past 20 years he has experienced a few bad wildfires, but it is nothing out of character. “You have dry years and wet years, and I think that it’s been going that way for thousands of years,” Nystrom said. Climate change may be real, but in areas, such as Montana, the effects are not as severe as the larger populated areas, he said. What is the science in Montana for climate change? Maxwell said that a number of things fall under climate change because the study of climate change is the study of long-term patterns. He added that in Montana, within the past 20, 30 and 50 years, scientists have monitored a number of patterns showing trends of temperatures increasing, and according to the data, they are projecting that in the future temperatures will continue to increase. Another pattern scientists have monitored is a pattern in precipitation, which is also indicating a drastic change and will continue to change, he said. He added that producers have and will be experiencing wetter falls, wetter springs and hotter, drier summers. “That’s specifically Montana,” he said. A report written by Maxwell and a number of other environmental scientists says that the average annual temperatures in Montana have increased 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit between 1950 and 2015, with an even higher increase during the winter and spring months, with temperatures changing in the winter 3.6 degrees and in the fall 2.6 degrees. Because of the change, the annual growing season has lengthened by 12 days, it adds. It said that during this time frame, the average annual precipitation for Montana did not make any notable changes. Climate model projections show a warmer Montana in the future, with mixed changes in precipitation, more extreme events, and mixed certainty on upcoming drought, it says. The report added that Montana is expected to experience a 4.5 to 6 degree increase by mid-century or end-of-century, depending on emission scenarios. It says that these projected temperature increases are larger than the average changes projected globally and nationally. Precipitation is also projected to increase during the winter, spring and fall months, although is predicted to decrease during the summers, it says. The 2017 drought Maxwell said in an interview that Montana may have already experienced some of the more drastic changes caused by climate change. He said that in 2017 Montana experienced a rapid onset of droughts and, according to research, people can expect many more to come. He added that many farmers struggled in 2017, producers finding it challenging to fill the grain bin with good grain because of the drought, especially spring wheat.

A farmer harvests his winter wheat south of Havre in 2011. Hedges said that the flash drought of 2017 is a great example of how severe the change can be. “If you look on a monthly basis, it’s terrible, but yearly it may look all right,” she said. She added that on a year to year basis, precipitation may not change very much, but if people look at the individual months, it could show dramatic changes. If moisture doesn’t fall at the right time for farmers, they are in trouble, she said. “You have to look at the bigger picture,” she said. 2017 also was the year with the most acres burning in wildfires in Montana history — 1.4 million acres, including the July Fire in the Little Rocky Mountains near Zortman and Landusky that burned 11,699 acres and the East Fork Fire in the Bear Paw Mountains that burned 21,896 acres. A paper by Kelsey Jencso of the University of Montana Montana Climate Office and Britt Parker of the University of Colorado Boulder NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System says in the executive summary, “The 2017 drought was a rapid-onset event for northeast Montana, the Dakotas, and the Canadian Prairies during the spring and summer of 2017. It was the worst drought to impact the U.S. Northern Plains in decades and it decimated crops across the region, resulting in $2.6 billion in agricultural losses in the U.S. alone, not

including additional losses in Canada.” It added that the U.S. agricultural sector experienced impacts early on in the year, including many spring-planted crops which failed to germinate, resulting in a total loss, and the agricultural impacts persisted and worsened over the 2017 drought. The cool season grass species, suffered from the lack of spring precipitation, which led to a decline in pasture and reduced forage for summer grazing, which reduced herd sizes. “Despite near-normal stream flows for the entire 2017 season, water supply to rural water providers was reduced in some areas,” the paper said. “Rural water systems were restricted by their infrastructure and some providers were not able to keep up with increased water demand, leading to enforcement restrictions. “The combination of below-normal precipitation and abnormally high temperatures in July and August contributed to near-record levels of severely low fuel moisture in the region’s forests and grasslands,” it added. “These conditions worsened the fire season in 2017, setting records and contributing to large wildfires that exhibited erratic behavior and rapid growth.” What changes have happened and need to happen? Maxwell said climate change has also caused heavier precipitation during the fall and spring months, such as this past year,

Havre Daily News/file photo pushing producers to plant their crops at a later and later point in the season. He added that this resulted in the crop maturing later, about the time that it began to snow. To compensate for the hot, dry summers, producers have also turned toward growing more winter wheat, the hot weather not affecting the crop as much as spring wheat, he said. “In the short-term, we can and we’ve seen, more people growing winter wheat, for example, because it avoids some of those issues,” he said. He said producers have diversified their crops enough to compensate for some of the effects of climate change, keeping as many crops in the ground as they can, increasing organic matter, which holds moisture longer. He added that doing this may pay off in terms of being able to endure some of the droughts that are increasingly more common during the midsummer period. “That’s a biggie,” he said. Maxwell said ranchers have become a lot more sensitive to storing water and building stock ponds as much as they can and keeping water on their property as long as they can for their livestock. “That is a strategy that I think is paying off for people through some of the hotter, drier summers,” he said. But the nights not cooling off enough is an issue, Maxwell said. Cattle do generally

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Changing weather: Hedges: 'You have to look at the bigger picture' ■ Continued from page 5 cold it is harsh conditions for the calves. Nystrom added that in the past 20 years he has experienced a few bad wildfires, but it is nothing out of character. “You have dry years and wet years, and I think that it’s been going that way for thousands of years,” Nystrom said. Climate change may be real, but in areas, such as Montana, the effects are not as severe as the larger populated areas, he said. What is the science in Montana for climate change? Maxwell said that a number of things fall under climate change because the study of climate change is the study of long-term patterns. He added that in Montana, within the past 20, 30 and 50 years, scientists have monitored a number of patterns showing trends of temperatures increasing, and according to the data, they are projecting that in the future temperatures will continue to increase. Another pattern scientists have monitored is a pattern in precipitation, which is also indicating a drastic change and will continue to change, he said. He added that producers have and will be experiencing wetter falls, wetter springs and hotter, drier summers. “That’s specifically Montana,” he said. A report written by Maxwell and a number of other environmental scientists says that the average annual temperatures in Montana have increased 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit between 1950 and 2015, with an even higher increase during the winter and spring months, with temperatures changing in the winter 3.6 degrees and in the fall 2.6 degrees. Because of the change, the annual growing season has lengthened by 12 days, it adds. It said that during this time frame, the average annual precipitation for Montana did not make any notable changes. Climate model projections show a warmer Montana in the future, with mixed changes in precipitation, more extreme events, and mixed certainty on upcoming drought, it says. The report added that Montana is expected to experience a 4.5 to 6 degree increase by mid-century or end-of-century, depending on emission scenarios. It says that these projected temperature increases are larger than the average changes projected globally and nationally. Precipitation is also projected to increase during the winter, spring and fall months, although is predicted to decrease during the summers, it says. The 2017 drought Maxwell said in an interview that Montana may have already experienced some of the more drastic changes caused by climate change. He said that in 2017 Montana experienced a rapid onset of droughts and, according to research, people can expect many more to come. He added that many farmers struggled in 2017, producers finding it challenging to fill the grain bin with good grain because of the drought, especially spring wheat.

A farmer harvests his winter wheat south of Havre in 2011. Hedges said that the flash drought of 2017 is a great example of how severe the change can be. “If you look on a monthly basis, it’s terrible, but yearly it may look all right,” she said. She added that on a year to year basis, precipitation may not change very much, but if people look at the individual months, it could show dramatic changes. If moisture doesn’t fall at the right time for farmers, they are in trouble, she said. “You have to look at the bigger picture,” she said. 2017 also was the year with the most acres burning in wildfires in Montana history — 1.4 million acres, including the July Fire in the Little Rocky Mountains near Zortman and Landusky that burned 11,699 acres and the East Fork Fire in the Bear Paw Mountains that burned 21,896 acres. A paper by Kelsey Jencso of the University of Montana Montana Climate Office and Britt Parker of the University of Colorado Boulder NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System says in the executive summary, “The 2017 drought was a rapid-onset event for northeast Montana, the Dakotas, and the Canadian Prairies during the spring and summer of 2017. It was the worst drought to impact the U.S. Northern Plains in decades and it decimated crops across the region, resulting in $2.6 billion in agricultural losses in the U.S. alone, not

including additional losses in Canada.” It added that the U.S. agricultural sector experienced impacts early on in the year, including many spring-planted crops which failed to germinate, resulting in a total loss, and the agricultural impacts persisted and worsened over the 2017 drought. The cool season grass species, suffered from the lack of spring precipitation, which led to a decline in pasture and reduced forage for summer grazing, which reduced herd sizes. “Despite near-normal stream flows for the entire 2017 season, water supply to rural water providers was reduced in some areas,” the paper said. “Rural water systems were restricted by their infrastructure and some providers were not able to keep up with increased water demand, leading to enforcement restrictions. “The combination of below-normal precipitation and abnormally high temperatures in July and August contributed to near-record levels of severely low fuel moisture in the region’s forests and grasslands,” it added. “These conditions worsened the fire season in 2017, setting records and contributing to large wildfires that exhibited erratic behavior and rapid growth.” What changes have happened and need to happen? Maxwell said climate change has also caused heavier precipitation during the fall and spring months, such as this past year,

Havre Daily News/file photo pushing producers to plant their crops at a later and later point in the season. He added that this resulted in the crop maturing later, about the time that it began to snow. To compensate for the hot, dry summers, producers have also turned toward growing more winter wheat, the hot weather not affecting the crop as much as spring wheat, he said. “In the short-term, we can and we’ve seen, more people growing winter wheat, for example, because it avoids some of those issues,” he said. He said producers have diversified their crops enough to compensate for some of the effects of climate change, keeping as many crops in the ground as they can, increasing organic matter, which holds moisture longer. He added that doing this may pay off in terms of being able to endure some of the droughts that are increasingly more common during the midsummer period. “That’s a biggie,” he said. Maxwell said ranchers have become a lot more sensitive to storing water and building stock ponds as much as they can and keeping water on their property as long as they can for their livestock. “That is a strategy that I think is paying off for people through some of the hotter, drier summers,” he said. But the nights not cooling off enough is an issue, Maxwell said. Cattle do generally

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FSA county committee ballots mailed out From USDA Farm Service Agency WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin mailing ballots on Nov. 4 to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the Farm Service Agency county committee elections. “Our county committee members play a key role in our efforts to provide assistance to producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We value the local input of the over 7,000 members nationwide who

provide their valuable knowledge and judgment as decisions are made about the services we provide, including disaster and emergency programs.” To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by Dec. 2. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. Newly elected

c o m m i t t e e m e m b e rs w i l l ta ke o f f i c e January 1, 2020. County committee members help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.  Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Producers who supervise and conduct the farming

operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote. Producers can find out if their  local administrative area is up for election and if they are eligible to vote by contacting their local FSA county office. Eligible voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail can pick one up at their local FSA county office. People can visit  http://fsa.usda.gov/elections for more information. 

Changing weather: Maxwell: Producers need to start planting 5-15 crop species ■ Continued from page 6 fine during the hot summers, but because the nights have cooler temperatures because of climate change it is becoming more and more of a struggle. The issue has caused an effort to improve the genetics of cattle, to allow them to better withstand the climate, he said. He added that researchers and producers are also looking into modifying the behavior and system to better support those animals under the predicted weather conditions. People can also look into using multi-species cover crops to better improve forage for animals, he said. That entails a producer having five to 15 different species of crops, he said. He added that at least one will do well in any given year and help better support the forage throughout the year. “Those are all strategies that I think are going to be the way of the future,” Maxwell said. He added that a number of things are being done and can be done to better-improve cropping systems. In the mid- to latecentury, experts predict the world population to be between 9 to 10 billion people, and they all will need a source of protein. To betterimprove cropping systems to accommodate the needs, he said, producers cannot be focusing on growing feed for cattle, but focus on growing high-protein crops. It is inefficient to have cattle or livestock to be a main source of protein, he said. But, he added, it may be an actual benefit to Montana’s cattle market. The appetite for meat is increasing across the globe, in some of the fastest-

Havre Daily News/File photo Heifers and steers wait in holding pens at Hill County Scale Association in October 2015 to be shipped to market. Local ranchers say they have to adapt their operation to changes in the weather, but some point out that that always was the case and express skepticism that climate change is the cause. growing, high-population countries around the world such as China and Indonesia, Maxwell said. As cattle production moves

farther into the midwest, moving to places such as Montana, meat production will become more important.

“We should set ourselves up,” he said.

The agricultural industry Mccormick said north-central Montana has always had dramatic swings in weather. He added that his father was a farmer as well, starting the farm in the 1950s, and over the years, multiple things have been affecting agriculture for a variety of reasons — and they don’t always relate to the weather. “I don’t think you can point to any one thing,” he said. He said that in the past 10 years he has seen better-than-average crops, but it is a result of a combination of things, such as better science, better varieties and better fertility of the crops. He added that they also have better more current data to keep track of their crops, allowing producers to get a better idea of what to expect and how to improve. Low moisture has always been an issue in the area, as well as wildfires; it has been a problem as far back as he can remember, he said. Nystrom said his family has been ranching for generations and the biggest changes he has noticed have not been climate change but improvements in science. He added that ranchers currently have better vaccines, better breeding and a number of other improvements to increase efficiency in their cattle. Maxwell said that most farmers are used to having to adjust to different weather conditions, but the effects of climate change will be different than what they have been used to.

www.havredailynews.com they are planting and what time of year they are planting. “They know that something is going on,” she said. A number of progressive farmers are chanigng their techniques, Hedges said. “It’s not a political debate … it’s science,” she added. Conrad Nystrom, a rancher in the Bear Paw Mountains, said that he has been ranching for most of his life and was raised on his family’s ranch. He said that over the years he has been ranching he has experienced dry seasons and wet seasons, a number of years with droughts and floods, but the changes are not out-of-character for where he is. “I don’t really know if I can blame it on climate change for sure,” he said. The biggest things which impact ranching, he said, are the droughts and the cold weather. When a year has good rainfall, the cattle have good green grass to graze on and producers are growing good strong crops, but if a year is in a drought, the risk of wildfire goes up and the cattle do not have a lot to forage. During a drought, ranchers have to cut back on the number of cattle they run and not much hay is produced, and when it’s

■ See Changing weather Page 6 Havre Daily News/File photo Young winter wheat grows in north-central Montana in 2015. Experts say climate change is changing growing conditions in the Golden Triangle of Montana, but farmers are adapting to the changes and still producing good crops.

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Producers dealing with changing weather on the Hi-Line Derek Hann dshann@havredailynews.com Local farmers and ranchers have had to deal with drier weather and shifting weather patterns in recent years, but some are at odds with scientists about whether climate change is the cause. Both sides agree that producers have to adapt to what the weather brings each year and still produce their crops and livestock. Montana State University Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science Professor Bruce D. Maxwell said that the large majority of scientists agree that the presence of greenhouse gasses has contributed to climate change. “I don’t think there is much question about that,” he said. “Even if there was — whatever is causing it, we’d better be preparing for it, especially those who are on the front lines of weather, and that’s agriculture.” Local producers have a similar opinion about what they have to do. Kremlin area farmer Ryan McCormick said that people have collected enough scientific data to support the existence of climate change, but the need to adapt agricultural operations cannot be pinpointed to one specific thing. “Climate change is interesting,” he said. “People want to make out like farmers think that it’s some death-defying thing. But to be frank with you, I mean, that’s kind of our job, to change with the times.” He added that weather is something that is constantly changing within the agricultural community and producers always have to attempt to adapt. Some producers in other states, such as North Dakota, have already started changing over their crop production to producing more corn and soybeans. If the weather is warming up, then producers need to start planting more warm-season crops, if the weather is cooling down, they need to start planting more colder season crops, he said. “I think that climate change is natural and it’s been happening since the last ice age,” he said. “… We just deal with it as it comes.” Montana Environmental Information Center Deputy Director Anne Hedges said that climate change is a problem, not only for agricultural markets but everywhere around the world. She added that instead of people arguing if the data is accurate or if climate change is real, people need to be more focused on finding a solution. “It doesn’t cost much to deal with it,” she said. “The consequences of dealing with climate change can lead to a lot of improvements. It’s not outlandish.” Denying climate change won’t work in the long term, she added. A number of producers have already started to change the way they are doing business, changing how Havre Daily News/File photo Hay stands in a field in Hill County. Local farmers say they have had to adjust in some recent years to having wetter springs and falls and drier summers than they are used to.

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Producers reminded of new livestock loss payment requirements Press release HELENA — Montana’s Livestock Loss Board pays livestock owners for verified livestock losses due to wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions. Senate Bill 133 was passed during Montana’s 2019 legislative session and requires a livestock owner to be current on their per-capita fees in order to receive a payment from the State for their loss. A portion of the text of SB133 bill is as follows: (b) Before the board may issue a reimbursement for losses to a livestock producer eligible for coverage for losses, the

department of revenue shall certify that the livestock producer has paid per capita fees as required by 15-24-921. Except for a tribal member or tribal entity participating in an authorized agreement pursuant to 2-15-3113, a livestock producer may not receive a reimbursement for losses until the producer has paid any delinquent percapita fees. Anyone owning livestock is annually required to pay per-capita fees. While not all livestock are covered for loss, there is still a requirement to pay fees on cattle, sheep, goats, horses, mules, swine, poultry, bees, llamas, alpacas, bison, domestic

ungulates, ostriches, rheas and emus. Percapita fees help fund the Department of Livestock activities such as monitoring animal health, preventing and investigating livestock theft and managing predators. Montana’s Department of Revenue collects per-capita fees for the Department of Livestock. If you have not paid your fees, contact them at 406-444-6900 or visit their website at: https://mtrevenue.gov/%20 property/property-types/livestock . More information on per-capita fees can also be found on the Department of Livestock’s website at: http://liv.mt.gov/ Centralized-Services/Per-Capita-Fees or

by calling 406-444-4993. People who suspect their livestock loss is due to wolves, grizzly bears or mountain lions should call USDA Wildlife Services at 406-657-6464 to request an investigation. The Livestock Loss Board can only pay claims for confirmed or probable death loss verified by USDA Wildlife Services. The mission of the DOL 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 department, visit http://www.liv.mt.gov .

Registration open for USDA 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum From U.S. Department of Agriuculture WASHINGTON — Registration is now open for the 96th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, the largest annual meeting and premiere event of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two-day Forum will take place Feb. 20-21 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The 2020 Forum, themed “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture,” will feature more than 30 sessions covering topics such as innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, frontiers in conservation, and the science of food safety. In addition, USDA chief economist will unveil the department’s outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade in 2020 and discuss the U.S. farm income situation. An exhibit hall will showcase resources from USDA agencies and private organizations.

The 2020 Forum’s program will be announced at the beginning of November. USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum began in 1923 to distribute and interpret national forecasts to farmers in the field. The goal was to provide the information developed through economic forecasting to farmers so they had the tools to read market signals and avoid producing beyond demand. Since then, the forum has developed into a unique platform where key stakeholders from the agricultural sector in the United States and around the world come together every year to discuss current and emerging topics and trends in the sector. On average, 1,600 people attend the forum each year. The Agricultural Outlook Forum, which is organized by USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist together with other USDA agencies, is independent of commercial inter-

ests and aims to facilitate information sharing among stakeholders and generate the transparency that leads to well-functioning open markets. T h e U S DA Fu t u re Le a d e rs i n Agriculture Program selects undergraduate and graduate students in agriculturerelated studies for a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. During their visit, students will attend the Outlook Forum and take part in a USDA briefing, discuss career opportunities with agriculture leaders in academia, government and industry, and tour the nation’s capital. Winners receive free registration, transportation and lodging. For more information about this realworld training experience in agribusiness, scientific research, and agricultural policy, people may apply for the Future Leaders in Agriculture Program. More information is available at https://www.usda.gov/oce/

fo r u m / F L A / 2 0 2 0 _ U S DA _ AO F _ F u t u r e _ Le a d e rs _ i n _ A g r i c u l t u re _ Pro g ra m _ Application.pdf . As part of the Agricultural Outlook Forum, USDA offers a pre-forum field trip for early arrivals. The 2020 pre-forum trip will focus on urban agriculture. It will feature a local urban farm enterprise and a visit with scientists who conduct research on microgreens, locally adapted fruit varieties and other urban farming topics at USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. A nominal fee covers transportation and a boxed lunch. Visit the Agricultural Outlook Forum website  at https://www.usda.gov/oce/ forum/index.htm to register, reserve discounted room rates, join the pre-forum field trip, or apply for the USDA Future Leaders in Agriculture Program. Follow the conversation at #AgOutlook on USDA’s  Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


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