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GRASS ROOTS F E E D I N G T H E F U T U R E T H R O U G H F A R M E R S U N I O N E D U C AT I O N A P U B L I C AT O N B Y M O N TA N A F A R M E R S U N I O N

CLIMATE CHANGE, FARM BILL & TRADE, ALL HOT TOPICS AT THE 115TH NATIONAL FARMERS UNION CONVENTION

left to right: front row: Jan Tusick, Charlotte Kelly, Maggie Shane, Lyndsay Bruno, left to right: back row: Eric Bergman, Alan Merrill, Erik Somerfeld,Will Downs, Cory Kelly & Justin Loch

liam Downs of Molt and Maggie Montana State University proShane of Floweree and Alan Mer- vided his take on the upcoming rill of Big Sandy. Farm Bill. “My own view on crop insurance is a badly run and very Delegates from 33 states gathered One highlight of the convention expensive program. I believe in a at the annual National Farmers Union Convention in San Di- was a panel on the 2018 Farm Bill. need for a simpler program that is ego this week. Montana Farmers On the panel was Roger Johnson, more precise and more effective Union sent seven delegates to National Farmers Union Presi- with a disaster aid component.” the convention to vote on farm dent, Vincent Smith of Montana policy that will guide legislative State University and Chuck Con- Roger Johnson talked about the and CEO of the experiencePAGE of fighting for the priorities for the next year. Those ner, President 8 PAGE 7 PAGE 5 & 6 Council of Farmer Co- current Farm Bill. “The last time representing Montana include: National 2017 Arrowpeak Sneak Peek of the MFU Sponsors Solar in the 2014 farm bill, every farm Eric Bergman of Fort Shaw, Jan operatives. Camp theme 2017 Producers Tour & Ag Technology Tusick of Polson, Charlotte Kelly revealed! Conference Seminar Economist Vincent Smith of and Cory Kelly of Chester, WilB Y LY N D S AY B R U N O C O M M U N I C AT I O N S D I R E C T O R

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GREAT FALLS, MT PERMIT NO. 93

NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE

IN THIS ISSUE....

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MARCH 2017

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT remind our members that the organization’s stance on an issue or policy is driven by language voted on by membership that is printed in our policy book. The policy of MFU is gone over at our annual convention held in October of each year. Supporting what our members believe drives our testimony. If you want to change policy you must be at the convention during our policy debate consideration and adoption. The MFU policy at this time is very much up-to-date on the current issues. If a bill arises with policy intent that might not be clearly defined by membership to address a piece of legislation, the board of directors have the authority to decide on whether the organization will support the bill or not. Please feel free to call the office to get a clearer understanding of this process if necessary.

the next Farm Bill. We have been providing a voice for family farms for over 100 years and work tirelessly to live up to that promise each and every day!

One bill MFU has sponsored this session is Rooted the agritourism bill, which failed in previous March was a busy month for Montana Farm- sessions. Perseverance has paid off, and with ers Union. Starting with the National Farm- support of the house and the senate it will be ers Union convention, which was held in San signed into law by the governor. Diego California. MFU was well represented with five delegates, one youth delegate and I would like to make one final comment about myself. With that being said the national the up coming Farm Bill and some of the conmembership for a charter was 2,500 mem- versations that I noticed on social media. Why bers. The delegates decided this year to cut do people think that by complaining to one the charter requirement to 1,250 which will another about what they hear about potential mean Montana now, along with the other cuts or even the total abandonment of certain states, will double their delegate size to the programs for the elderly and low-income famNational Convention starting in 2019. The ilies that it will help in any way? Rather than next year’s convention will be held in Kansas just expressing your concerns through social City Missouri. media we encourage you to channel that energy and write, email, or talk to you senators and Another concern at the NFU convention was representatives. Reach out at a town meeting the next Farm Bill and the urgency by which or pick up the phone and be persistent with to start the process. As a major farm organi- your beliefs. By being a member of a farm zation we are concerned about the different advocacy organization like Montana Farmers titles within the bill and potential cuts by the Union you are already taking an important Trump administration. One must remember step in supporting agriculture. I encourage that agriculture returns much more to the you to utilize MFU’s expertise and lobbying overall economy than any government pro- power. We have relationships with legislagram. As with the last Farm Bill, MFU will tors at the state and national level and will again be hosting hearings across the state. We back programs in need of support. You will hope you will attend so we can hear what our have a better chance of being heard if conmembers are wanting in the next bill. gress knows you are a member of a reputable farm organization such as Montana Farmers MFU is actively lobbying in Helena for is- Union. Farm policy is complicated, let us be sues important to our membership. We have your resource as we work to ensure Montana’s acted on countless bills. Once again I want to farmers and ranchers get what they need from

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LEADERSHIP & COOPERATION

MONTANA FARMERS UNION 2017 SUMMER YOUTH CAMPS

Arrowpeak Camp registration opens April 11. of

Visit: montanfarmersunion. com to register! COOPERATION • EDUCATION • LEGISLATION


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MARCH 2017

IN THIS ISSUE

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!! Member

John & Marilyn Benjamin, Havre James Murdock, Whitewater Pat & Barbara Score, Malta Jerry & Carolyn Dusatko, Miles City Barry Fitzgerald, Forsyth Steven & Patricia Thoeny, Rosebud Delynn & Angela Meidinger, Fallon 30 Mile Ranch LLC, Roundup Robert & Robin Ebinger, Livingston Rock Creek Ranch 1 Ltd, Lingle WY Carol Lee Heidecker Estate, Bozeman Michael Short Living Trust, Waco TX Justin & Kristin Klebe, Laurel Jamie Lairos, Hardin Lyle Torske, Hardin Gordon Averill, Dutton Thomas Gollehon, Fairfield Gary & Denise Long, Renton WA Scott & Kim Studiner, Ashland Wiltzen Limited Partnership, Plains David & Shirley Atkins, Missoula Brian Wilson, Missoula Laurence & Diane Pfannes, Dillon Nick & Faith Hill, Havre Luke Henke, Ethridge Cole & Eileen Mannix, Helena Troy Manoukian, Malta David Peter, Circle Eric Peter, Circle Michael Peter, Circle Sarah Rachor, Sidney Timothy & Laura Scheele, Havre Tayla Snapp, Havre Danielle Trammelle, Helena Dustin Clark, Havre Justin Hager, Great Falls

Buying Local is Key to Preserving Rural Communities, Justin Loch Page 4

Recruited by Cindy Schubert Shane Anderson Shane Anderson Ron Watts Ron Watts Ron Watts Ron Watts Tom McKenna Daryl Hansen Daryl Hansen Craig Parker Craig Parker Dallas Hagfeldt Jr. Melissa Wacker Melissa Wacker Mathew Luedtke Mathew Luedtke Art Hoffart Art Hoffart Andrew Luedtke Andre Marcure Andre Marcure Judy Siring MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office

Arrowpeak Camp Registration Info. Page 4 MFU Members Attend National Convention   Page 5 Producer Conference Highlights Important Industry Topics including Farm Bill, Bull Genetics, Pulse Crops & More!   Page 6 My Neighbor in Need Celebrates Milestone, Dave Snuggs Page 7 Serving on National Policy Committee Proves to be Valued Opportunity, Erik Somerfeld; Page 8 Insurance Agents Recognized for Member Recruitment Page 8 Legislative Session Winds Down, Chris Christiaens Page 9

FOLF COURSE BASKET SPONSORSHIP

Daines Organizes Ag Summit in Great Falls; Page 10

Cascade County Conservation District, Great Falls

Class Visits Prove Worthwhile in Teaching MFU Core Values, Maggie Shane Page 10

Folf Tee Sponsorship The Shane Family, Floweree

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MONTANA FARMERS UNION PO BOX 2447 300 RIVER DRIVE NORTH GREAT FALLS MT 59403 PHONE: (406) 452-6406 1-800-234-4071 FAX: (406) 727-8216 mfu@montanafarmersunion.com www.montanafarmersunion.com Board of Directors: Alan Merrill, President Rollie Schlepp, Vice President, Conrad Erik Somerfeld, District 2, Power Bill Courtnage, At-Large director, Geraldine Brett Dailey, District 4, Jordan William Downs, District 5, Molt Ben Peterson, At-Large director, Judith Gap Kelly Rutledge, District 1, Big Sandy Sig Rudie, Fairview, At-Large director Paul Kanning, Distric 5, Flaxville Jan Tusick, District 6, Ronan State Office Staff: Jan Johnson, Office Mgr., Assistant Secretary/ Treasurer Lyndsay Bruno, Communications Director Chris Christiaens, Legislative & Project Specialist Justin Loch, Membership Director Dave Snuggs, Facility Director Violet Green, Youth Education Assistant Maggie Shane, Continuing Education Coordinator Copyright © Montana Farmers Union, 2016. Montana Grassroots is the official publication of the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America, Montana Division. MFU reserves the right to reject any advertisements. Third Class bulk postage paid at Great Falls MT 59401. Membership: $50.00 per year Montana Grassroots is published 10 times each calendar year with two combined issues. Article submissions are requested by the 15th of the month. Advertising space is available. Copy Editor: Jan Johnson Editor/Designer: Lyndsay Bruno


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vegetables, bread and eggs? Or maybe I’m a supporter because I think what my family and farming friends do each day on their operations is “cool” or “neat”. The more I think about being a “supporter of agriculture” the more I think I need to change my focus to truly be a supporter.

JUSTIN LOCH M E M B E R S H I P D I R E C TO R

BUYING LOCAL IS KEY TO THE PRESERVATION OF OUR RURAL COMMUNITIES Well it looks like spring might finally be here. After what seemed like an extremely long, cold winter I must say I have never been more excited to see snow gone and warmer temperatures. With that being said, spring provides a busy time in all parts of agriculture. Ranchers are busy lambing and calving. Farmers are prepping land for seeding and getting equipment ready. Vegetable producers are beginning to get seeds started and beds cleaned up. It’s just a fun, yet busy time that I take pride in watching. It is really during this time that a lot of producers are working on setting up their whole year. A majority of what happens in the spring can seriously determine what will happen come fall and if the farm or ranch will be successful enough to turn a profit. With so much at stake for the producer, that has me thinking about my role as a consumer. I know that I say I am a “supporter of agriculture,” but what does that truly mean? Am I a supporter just because I go to the store and buy meat, fruits,

First let’s look at the producer that plants and harvests vegetables. Maybe next time instead of going to the store and buying the .79 cents can of green beans or corn I should go to the local farmers market or enroll in a community supported agriculture program (CSA) to buy fresh vegetables that the producer worked hard to plant and harvest. Buying from a local producer allows me the opportunity to find out where my food comes from and how it was grown. This should be a priority of consumers, and yet sometimes we care more about the dollar saved. Even more detrimental to agriculture is the potential of someone losing their job and farm from worrying more about money and less about our health. To me what it means to be a true “supporter of agriculture” means buying local. In return our health benefits from consuming fresh, locally grown food.

APRIL 2017

ant that serves local food. This helps support the local farmer, but also allow us, the consumer to know where our food comes from and appreciate the efforts it took to get it from farm to table. The large production grain farmer is just as important to the food system. They too work hard to ensure their grain is of the highest quality and have a lot invested in producing a crop. As you know each major grocery store has their own brand and it typically is offered at a discounted price. While at the grocery store maybe I need to forgo saving a few cents on a loaf of bread and buy the bread that is completely grown from seed, harvested, and baked in Montana. I know that in buying the Montana grown product that I will be supporting a producer that spent countless hours raising a quality crop and in turn I am supporting their livelihood. Who knows, it might have come from my neighbor’s farm.

I think you are starting to see that there are changes I can make in regards to my consumer decisions and habits to truly make me more of a “supporter of agriculture.” Sure it may cost a little more, but buying local gives me peace of mind knowing that I am helping Next, there’s the rancher who a farmer, rancher, producer and works tirelessly to provide the possible family member or friend highest quality meat products in- survive another day in the tough cluding lamb, chicken, pork, fish profession of agriculture. and beef. We live in a society of convenience and bargains. When I challenge all “supporters or agit comes to food we want it fast, riculture” to think about what this good and cheap. My wife and I truly means to them and make typically go to dinner every Fri- the changes necessary to increase day night. Nine times out ten we their support. If we change our just pick a restaurant that sounds food buying habits together we good. We don’t think about where can change the lives of producers the food comes from. All we care in making each day a little easier about is that it tastes good and is to continue doing what they love reasonably priced. If I’m truly a - helping feed the world. “supporter of agriculture” then we need to change our dining habits at least once a week and make it a point to go to a restaur-

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ARROWPEAK CAMP REGISTRATION OPENS It’s that time of the year again! We are preparing to kick off our 2017 camp season. The Senior Youth Advisory Council (SYAC) has chosen the theme ROOTED for this year’s camp season. We will be focusing on establishing roots in our young campers for MFU and the natural world and continuing to nourish and grow the roots in our teens and seniors. This camp season continues our longstanding cooperative and leadership programs, as well as archery, fly fishing, agriculture, bees and more!! Camp season is rapidly approaching and we are excited to inform you of the camp dates.

Registration opens April 11th!!!

Junior I Camp: June 18th- June 23; Ages 8-11 Registration Deadline is June 4 Teen Camp: June 25th- June 30 Ages 12-15 Registration Deadline is June 11 Junior Camp II: July 9th- July 14; Ages 8-11 Registration Deadline is June 25 Senior Camp: July 16th- July 21 Ages 15-19 Registration Deadline is July 2 Mark your calendars for the 2017 Camp Season! We’ll see you there!!! MFU is hiring counselors for this year’s camp season. To find out more on this opportunity contact Violet Green at the state office.


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Amanda Schaub and Justin Loch were part of the Beginning Farmer Institute program through National Farmers Union.The BFI class completed their program in San Diego.

APRIL 2017

Misty & Scott LeFurgey, MFU’s Farmers Union Enterprise Couple

C O N V E N T I O N C O N T.

organization in the country came to congress with a different farm bill,” said Johnson. “We put the best of all the options in front of everyone, made the most sense, cost the least amount of money and provided the most stability in the market.” Chuck Conner with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives shared his opinion on how to go about advocating for the upcoming Farm Bill. “I think everyone without exception believes we will have fewer resources to write the farm bill,” said Conner. ”If we enter this debate with an apologetic attitude with our budget cutters then liberals and conservatives alike will be energized and they will get the cuts they are after. I don’t think we need to apologize for what we are asking for in Title

Farm Bill panel

1. We are only strong when speak- order portion of the policy dising with a unified voice. We con- cussion. trol our own destiny.” Will Downs, Montana Farmers Union Board of Director and Among other high-level speakers delegate, spoke to the delegation. at the convention was Jim Ennis, “Eighty percent of our wheat is Executive Director of Catholic exported out of our state into difRural Life. Ennis talked about the ferent countries, and a good porconnection between agriculture tion of our meat products,” said and faith. “Farming is a unique Downs. “Trade should be our fovocation. You all hold such a cru- cus in the 2018 Farm Bill.” cial role and not just an economic endeavor. The land is not a blank Montana Farmers Union Presislate or meaningless void, the or- dent Alan Merrill said the expeder of creation is permitted by rience of coming together as a god’s loving design.” national organization and voting on policy is always a good one for The focus of the convention is delegates to experience. “It’s cruthe adoption of policy. The body cial that our members voice their came together to craft policy that concerns and advocate for the iswill lead the next year’s legisla- sues affecting them as producers. tive efforts both at the national We are pleased with the discusand state level. Trade was a topic sion on the 2018 Farm Bill and which was included in the special look forward to working with our

Delegate Will Downs testifies during policy 5

partner states to fight for family farmers.” The 136 delegates from 33 states approved six special orders of business: • Family Farming & Crisis Relief • Family Farming and Farm Bills • Family Farming & Trade Policy • Family Farming & Leading the Way on Climate Change • Family Farming & Expanded Higher Ethanol Blend Utilization • Family Farming & Dairy Policy Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available at www. nfu.org.

left to right: Charlotte Kelly, John Kelly, Cory Kelly and Maggie Shane at evening reception


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APRIL 2017

MFU HOLDS PRODUCER CONFERENCE IN HAVRE

“There is a lot of pressure on the hill for congress to get going on B Y LY N D S AY B R U N O C O M M U N I C AT I O N S D I R E C T O R this Farm Bill,” said Barbara. “In earnest from what I am hearing For a second consecutive year the house will probably start writMontana Farmers Union held the ing some things down this sumProducer Conference in Havre mer and I think they would like March 24-25 at the Best West- to have parts of a bill particularly ern Plus. The conference at- for the big ticket items by the end tracted producers from all over of the year. I think this might be the highline who came to attend ambitious considering there is workshops on the Farm Bill, some attempt to separate out the pulse crops, bull genetics, drone dairy and cotton.” technology in agriculture, farm lending and the challenges and Barbara encouraged attendees to successes of a starting a hops get involved with the Farm Bill production. The event was in co- process. “Build a relationship ordination with MSU Northern with your member of Congress,” Collegiate Stockgrowers and their said Barbara. “Let them know fundraiser Beef N’ Brews. what is important to you and be Farm Credit Services kicked off active in Farmers Union. The orthe conference with a presen- ganization offers great advocacy tation by Jennifer Dees, Shaud for members.” Schwarzbach and Courtney Helmers. They talked risk man- Following discussion on the Farm agement, ways to secure funding Bill was a presentation on pulse for an operation and basic finan- crops by Jeff Winkler with Mouncial management. Next up was tain View Co-op. “When first Chad Murnin, owner of Bar Star considering planting pulses, think Cattle. Chad and his wife Steph- field selection and examine the anie run a Purebred Polled and chemical history by sampling the Horned Hereford and commer- soil,” said Jeff. He said as a rule cial cow operation outside Loma. the majority of pulses don’t grow Chad talked about his breeding that tall so an even ground does program and what makes it suc- help the crop ripen. Currently cessful. He advised attendees on the United States is #1 in pulse what they should look for when crops and some producers have selecting a bull, how to define a been growing the crops for years, breeding program how to market however for others the prospect the product. “Buy your genetics of pulse crops is new. from someone with a set program and from someone you can trust,” Robert Blair, referred to as the said Chad. “Stay away from sin- unmanned farmer, was the first gle trait selection and traits that farmer to use drones in his farmdon’t suit your herd. Those are ing practices. Robert talked about things to avoid when developing trying the use of drone technola breeding program that will suc- ogy and precision agriculture with ceed. Also, market your product crop insurance. “Well if I am usto the best of your ability; if it is ing the technology and I am less superior make sure to market it as of an insurance risk why should such.” I be paying the same premium as those who aren’t using the techSaturday opened with an over- nology?” said Robert. “I am getview of what to expect in the next ting conservation out of it which Farm Bill by Barbara Patterson includes less pesticide and more with National Farmers Union.

left to right:Violet Green,Youth Education Assistant, Barbara Patterson, National Farmers Union; Robert Blair, speaker; Justin Loch, Membership Director; Alan Merrill, President and Eric Sannerud, speaker

Membership Director Justin Loch with MSU Northern Collegiate Stockgrowers

Chad Murnin with Bar Star Cattle Co. talks about genetics and bull acquisition

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APRIL 2017

MY NEIGHBOR IN NEED CELEBRATES MILESTONE

Need, we would simply just be a website. I want to thank our sponsors, community partners, volunteers and most of all the caring individuals and organizations who every day wake up and make the choice to help a neighbor in need. Their compassion and dedication is without measure.”

bor in Need has completed almost 9,000 need fulfillments. “Today we celebrate the power of kindness and generosity that is alive in our backyard! And today, we once again demonstrate that it does not take a lot to do a lot,” Snuggs said. “What started out as the simple idea of anonymous giving has grown into a movement encompassing other social services needed by members of the community including www.mystudentinneed.org, the free Pet Food Pantry and the Give What You Can Community Thrift Store.” In five years, My Neighbor in Need has received over 11,000 requests for help and has fulfilled 81% of those requests. “I originally The website myyneighborineed.org is a revo- hoped that we would be able to fulfill about lutionary and proprietary website system that 200 needs per year. I never thought that we provides local citizens a way to ask for help would fulfill 1,800 needs each year! On avfrom their community and a way for the com- erage, we fulfill about eight needs each day,” munity to give back celebrated their five year Snuggs said. “Although the website has been anniversary on March 20. Created by Montana instrumental in connecting those in need with Farmers Union Facility Director Dave Snuggs, those willing to help, without the community and launched on March 20, 2012, My Neigh- supporting the mission of My Neighbor in BY DAVE SNUGGS FOUNDER/MY NEIGHBOR IN NEED

The website was developed by Tom Penwell of Tom’s Web Designs. It allows for anyone to ask for help with a specific need whether the need is for themselves or for someone else in their community by simply going to the website and completing the Request a Need form and clicking submit. If a person does not have access to the website to complete the form, they may call (406) 750-2542 and the form can be completed over the phone. In addition, the Request for a Need form can be completed inside the My Neighbor in Need office located inside Times Square at 525 Central Ave – Downtown Great Falls. My Neighbor in Need/My Student in Need is a 501c3, tax exempt, non-profit organization. Operational costs are underwritten by sponsorship from Montana Farmers Union, contributions from our Partners in Dignity, and general donations from individuals.

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efficient water usage, so those talks are starting right now. Over all ask yourself what do you want the technology to do and then set those goals.” The afternoon included a tour of the Northern Ag Research Center where center director Darrin Boss talked about the cattle and crop studies being conducted at the center. Following the tour Eric Sannerud, CEO of Mighty Ax Hops in Minnesota, talked about his operation and shared some insight on what it takes to start a new business. At the conclusion of the conference attendees used their creative side at the Paint and Pour Party. Montana Farmers Union wants to thank the MSU Collegiate Stockgrowers for their involvement with the conference and all the phenomenal speakers who made the event a success!

My Neighbor in Need Staff celebrate 5 years of serving the community! 7


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APRIL 2017

SERVING ON POLICY COMMITTEE PRESENTS UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY BY ERIK SOMERFELD N AT I O N A L P O L I C Y C O M M I T T E E C H A I R M A N M F U B O A R D S E C R E TA RY / T R E A S U R E R

Each year NFU President Roger Johnson appoints a committee of Farmers Union leaders from across the country who are tasked with taking a comprehensive look at the national policy and suggesting revisions for the membership to consider adopting. I had the privilege of being chosen to serve as chairman of the committee. Whether you are conventional or organic, large or small, or are concerned about hunger in America, the Farm Bill through its different titles touch all aspects of agriculture. Montana is very dependent on solid trade policy that boosts American exports while protecting domestic producers. Making sure that our trading partners are living up to their end of the deals is very important. Serving on the national policy committee means a lot of behind the scenes work to preprepare for policy adoption at the national convention. Once I was appointed as chairman, I spoke with national staff and the committee about the areas they would be most familiar with based on what type of farming or ranching they do. We also spoke agriculture in general and what areas of concern were happening at that time. This discussion was prior to the election. At that time the biggest issue was the decline of the farm economy and

NFU President Roger Johnson and policy committee chairman Erik Somerfeld moderate policy consideration at The National Farmers Union Annual Convention in San Diego.

reduced lending to farmers. We met again in mid-December. This time we added trade and immigration to the list of concerns. These concerns helped to schedule groups to come before the committee in January to give presentations on their areas of expertise. Presenters included: staff from the Senate and House Agriculture Committee; the USDA who spoke on the Farm Bill; the United States Trade Representative(USTR)who spoke about trade; CoBank who talked about ag lending and an immigration specialist who discussed changes to immigration policy and its effects

on agriculture. We were also given the task by President Johnson to eliminate duplication of policy, reduce unnecessary narrative or editorializing, and to eliminate obsolete language. Serving as chairman of the policy committee offers a unique opportunity to partner with NFU staff and membership to craft and fine tune agriculture policy that will guide the organization for the next year. It was a pleasure to serve on the committee and represent Montana.

FARMERS UNION INSURANCE AGENTS RECOGNIZED FOR MEMBER RECRUITMENT In March At the Farmers Union Insurance Annual Meeting in Great Falls, Montana Farmers Union recognized several agents for member recruitment. “We are grateful for our partnership with Farmers Union Insurance and very appreciative of the agents’ membership recruitment efforts,” said MFU Membership Director Justin Loch. “Their efforts certainly deserved to be recognized.” Justin Loch accepted awards for Gordon Elings and Andrew Luedtke.(not pictured)

left to right: BlayneWatts(accepting for Ron Watts for most new members recruited); MFU Membership Director Justin Loch accepting awards for Gordon Elings & Andrew Luedtke, Andre Marcure and Craig Parker. 8


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APRIL 2017

2017 LEGISLATURE WINDS DOWN

bill is carried by Representative Garner and Senator Lew Jones and is scheduled for hearing in the House this week. This is an act revising Highway Funding Laws, Revising laws concerning the deposit and expenditure of highway revenue, establishing a highway restrictive account, increasing the fuel tax and Special fuel tax; providing that the new revenue must fund highway projects, local road projects, and highway patrol functions. It provides for a local government road match program, requires a performance audit of the department of transportation and requires the department to publish a website showing projects funded with the increased revenue, providing a statutory appropriation amending several sections and providing an effective date. The bill directs the disposition of funds and breaks down the amounts of the taxes collected to be distributed annually to the various projects and entities. The bill also describes who pays the department the tax BY CHRIS CHRISTIAENS in an amount equal to 35 cents per gallon of P R O J E C T & L E G I S L AT I V E gasoline distributed by the distributor within SPECIALIST the state and upon which the gasoline tax has The Montana Legislature is working toward not been paid by any other distributor. This is an early date for completion of the session, a an increase from 27 cents to 35 cents per galdate that maybe around Easter weekend. This lon. The same amount is paid by the distribuwould leave some 15 days more or less avail- tor for each gallon of special fuel up from 27 able and already approved by the legislature ž cents and 4 cents for each gallon of aviafor funding the current session. HB 2 bet- tion fuel, other than fuel sold to the federal ter known as the budget bill has passed the defense fuel supply center. House and is in the hands of the Senate Finance & Claims Committee. The chair of this There are fees for temporary permits—duracommittee is Senator Lew Jones of Conrad. tion of those temporary permits and those Generally there is money added in the Senate engaged in agriculture will want to make sure and then a conference committee is appointed they comply when used in moving agriculto deal with the bill after it is not accepted by tural products. Current law is found in the the House. There will be intense lobbying for MCA, Section 15-70-456 with the new bill those entities who are for or against cuts or changing the fees collected going to the highadditional money for their interests. way restricted account rather than state special revenue in current law. For a look at the HB342 the bill introduced by Representative bill in its current version, go to the legislative Fitzgerald for Montana Farmers Union has website of http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billpassed both houses of the legislature and HB473. The website will also give you a status has been sent to enrolling and will proceed of hearing and other action. to the Governor for his signature within the next week. The bill adds agritouism to the list MFU has been following the Food and Agriof Montana recreational activities in which culture Bills. The funding of this bill is not participants assume the liability for inherent complete as of this date and we will be workrisks of those activities. The bill as drafted ing with the Senate and Finance committee went through both House and Senate without for action. amendment and passed with strong votes in both houses. There are a number of taxation bills moving forward that we follow as per policy adopted A bill that many have been calling about is at the 2016 annual convention. HB473 best known as the Fuel Tax bill. This 99

NRCS ISSUES WARNING ON INVASIVE SPECIES B Y P AT R I C K H E N S L E I G H N AT U R A L R E S O U R C E S C O N S E R V AT I O N S E R V I C E S

An invasive species is on the move and may be headed for Montana. Palmer amaranth, a giant pigweed, is known to have spread to at least 28 states, including Minnesota and South Dakota, but has not yet been reported in Montana. To prevent its spread into Montana, landowners are encouraged to check their fields to ensure the invasive weed is not present. Palmer amaranth is spreading through contaminated seed, hay and feed purchases, and custom combining or other mobile farm equipment. It is native to the desert Southwest and northern Mexico and has spread throughout the southern, eastern and midwestern parts of United States. It was recently found as a contaminant in conservation plantings in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio but is listed as a noxious weed only in Delaware, Minnesota and Ohio. It was a known contaminant in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) seed mixes but pollinator, wildlife habitat and cover crop plantings may also been contaminated. Producers with recent conservation plantings should check their fields to ensure this invasive weed is not present. Identification Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri S. Watson) is one of a number of pigweeds that are problem weeds in crops throughout the United States. Pigweeds are warm-season annuals, grow quickly and aggressively, compete well with crops, reproduce by seed, are frost sensitive and have a high percentage of hard seed. It has caused severe yield losses up to 91 percent in corn and 79 percent in soybeans. Palmer amaranth can grow to a height of 1 to 8 feet and has one reddish central stem that is smooth. For general information on Palamer Amaranth information and how to prevent the spread of this species contact your state or local NRCS office.


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A MESSAGE FROM SENATOR STEVE DAINES

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With agriculture playing such a critical role in the lives of thousands of Montana families, I would like to invite you to join me at my Montana Ag Summit on May 31-June 1.

Montana farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to feed not only the U.S., but the world. They The summit, which will be taking place in are the reason agriculture is Montana’s num- Great Falls at the Montana ExpoPark, will ber one economic driver. include keynote speakers such as U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the U.S. Senate In February, I had a chance to sit down with Ag Committee, United Grain’s President and President Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture CEO Augusto Bassanini, Northwest Farm Nominee, Governor Sonny Perdue, where I Credit Services CEO Phil DiPofi, and other heard firsthand his commitment to strength- leaders in agriculture. Key topics that will be ening agriculture for future generations. Dur- covered during the summit include strengthing our meeting, we discussed Montana’s agri- ening international relationships for Montana culture priorities including the importance of agriculture, showcasing technological adexpanding access to foreign markets, assuring vancements, promoting the next generation Montana agriculture doesn’t face discrimina- of farmers and ranchers, and discussing the tion in labeling decisions, completing a new challenges of federal policies and regulations and effective farm bill by the end of FY18 Montanans face today. and addressing opportunities to improve forest management. I look forward to working To register for the summit, please visit www. closely with Governor Perdue to grow Mon- agsummitmontana.com. tana’s agriculture industry and create goodpaying jobs around the state.

LESSON ON COOPERATIVES PROMOTES MFU’S EDUCATION INITIATVES been traveling to schools in the local area giv- Big Sandy- 3rd& 5th graders, White Sulphur ing a cooperative presentation teaching youth Springs- 5th, 7th, & 8th grader and Benton about what a co-op is and how to be a coop- Lake- 2nd- 5th graders. erative person. If you are interested in having MFU do a preOur presentation typically lasts between 45 sentation at your local school or have any minutes to 1 hour. We show a PowerPoint, questions on this program please feel free watch a short video, have the kids participate contact me at the state office. in different interactive cooperative games, and talk about the different types of co-ops found not only in their local communities, but ANNUAL CONVENTION also around the state and country. We spend the last 10 minutes or so promoting our sum- PLANNING UNDERWAY! mer youth camps and answering any questions The MFU Annual Convention is scheduled they had regarding our visit with them. for Oct. 20-21 in Great Falls. We want to thank the following people who have volunWe have currently visited four schools in our teered to serve on the committee. area including Belt, Conrad, Roy, and Big Sandy. We plan to have at least two more visits Meet your 2017 convention committee: by the end of March including White Sulphur BY MAGGIE SHANE C O N T I N U I N G E D U C AT I O N Springs and Benton Lake. Paul Kanning, Rollie Schlepp, Dr. Mary Burrows, Laura Garber, Jan Tusick, Kelly RutBack in January, Montana Farmers Union re- By the end of March we will have presented ledge, Brent Sachet, Violet Green and Maggie established their educational visits to schools our co-op lesson to:Belt- 2nd & 3rd graders, Shane. Event details to follow! around the state. Violet Green and I have Conrad- 3rd graders, Roy- 7th& 8th graders,

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