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MEMBER profile



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IN THIS ISSUE.... PAGE 5 & 6 MFU Sponsors Solar Tour & Ag Technology Seminar

PAGE 7 Sneak Peek of the 2017 Producers Conference

PAGE 8 2017 Arrowpeak Camp theme revealed!

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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT any bills pertaining to new/young producers breaking into the industry. It is a top priority of this organization to help support the next generation when the time comes to take over the family farm without taking on an unserviceable debt load.

We will use the newly adopted 2017 policy book to guide lobbying efforts. If you would like more information on a certain bill, or Montana Farmers Union’s position on a particular piece of legislation, please do not hesitate to call the office. We are here to serve our members. The 2017 policy book is available on the website. Secondly, I am pleased to announce that the final version of “Vocation of the Agricultural Leader” is finished. This publication is the finished product of a multi-year project sponThe 2017 Legislative Session is in full swing! sored in part by MFU. MFU became involved Montana Farmers Union is representing mem- in the project because of support provided bership with two lobbyists, support from the by the Farmers Union Enterprise Board of state office in Great Falls, and the board. Directors who whole-heartedly believed in it from the start. This session we are watching bills pertaining to agri-tourism, the Growth Through Agri- The objectives of the project are three fold. culture (GTA) program and water rights that The first is to affirm the noble and dignified will have an effect on private and public lands. vocation of farming and the work of men We will be pushing for continued funding of and women involved in both agricultural prothe Montana Grain Lab and the Montana Ag- duction and getting food to our tables; secricultural Experiment Stations. In addition ondly, to retrieve the spirit of the vocation we will be following legislation on food safe- that farming is not just an occupation, but an ty and implications of food safety laws, and invitation from the Creator, a calling “to till

Jim Ennis, Executive Director of Catholic Rural Life, presents Pope Francis with a copy of Vocation of the AgriculturalLeader; photo courtesy of Jim Ennis 2

and to keep” the earth, and thirdly to inspire future generations of men and women to see how their faith impacts both their work in agriculture and stewardship of God’s creation. Jim Ennis, Executive Director of Catholic Rural Life, is in the process of putting on workshops about this great project. I want to note that this project was made for “all” faiths. In my many years with Montana Farmers Union this has been by far the most meaningful project I have been involved in. If you are interested in such a workshop please call the office for further information. You will have a whole different outlook on why you chose the great profession of being in agriculture. I personally want to thank Jim Ennis for his great wisdom on this project. My wife Lorrie will be presenting on this subject at the 2017 MFU Women’s Conference. Her passions remain her faith and rural living. For many living in rural Montana they feel connected to the earth and its creator as well. If we understand our role, as given to us by God, it can be a powerful motivator.

MFU HIRES EDUCATION STAFF MFU is pleased to announce the hiring of Violet Green as Youth Education Assistant and Maggie Shane as the Continuing Education Coordinator. Violet and Maggie will make wonderful additions to Montana Farmers Union!

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WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!! Member Fulton Ranch LLC, Broadus

Marty & Barbara Sackman, Fallon Katherine Roy Revocable, Colorado Springs CO Robert & Susan Roods, Billings Steven Stoican, Ryegate Patrick Poynor, Shepherd Howard Herrington, Livingston Robert & Lu An Peterson, Livingston Robert & Jennie Weber, Livingston Circle Heart Land & Livestock, Laurel Kevin & Heather Richeson, Laurel Ross Keith Whitfield, Stanford John R Nelson, Plains Terry & Mary Shumaker, Trout Creek Lowell Olin, Hamilton Wayne Blevins, Charlo Stine & Cory Decker, Chester Dora & Tyler Sealey, Dutton Kara & Tanner Jossi, Great Falls Debra & Kim Haaland, Inverness Gretchen Boyer, Whitefish Jasmine & Ben Lamb, Helena Mary Rochelle, Columbia Falls Charles & Tami Good, Carter Alice & Jared Miller, Gildford Jennifer & Weston Birkeland, Fort Benton Jeri Copenhaver, Helena Maria Valencia, Lewistown Mallory Stefan, Butte Jenna Donahue and Shawn Wheeler, Fairview Jacki Girard, Great Falls Amy Hutton, Corvallis Heather & John Makoski, Great Falls


Recruited by Tayler Kennedy Ron Watts Jesse Fleming James Mathews James Mathews Steven Plaggemeyer Daryl Hansen Daryl Hansen Daryl Hansen Dallas Hagfeldt Jr. Dallas Hagfeldt Jr. Aeric Reilly Sally Miller Sally Miller Bryan Jones Andrew Luedtke 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 MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office MFU Office

In Memoriam

Message from the President Page 2

MFU Members Attend National Convention/ Solar Event Comes to Lewistown   Page 4

The Latest in Ag Technology Seminar in Scobey; Sponsored by MFU ---chapter??   Page 6

MONTANA FARMERS UNION PO BOX 2447 300 RIVER DRIVE NORTH GREAT FALLS MT 59403 PHONE: (406) 452-6406 FAX: (406) 727-8216 Board of Directors:

Register now for the 2017 Producer Conference Page 7 SYAC Select 2017 Arrowpeak Camp Theme Page 8 Member Profile Page 10 LeFurgey’s visit North Dakota as part of FUE program Page 11

Mrs.Norman(Alice) Great Falls W. Norman Sullivan (Past President of Montana Farmers Union) Great Falls

Washington Corner, NFU Page 12 Food Safety Trainings Throughout the State Page 13


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 Kathryn Peterson, Arrowpeak Camp Director & Event Coordinator 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 Copy Editor: Jan Johnson Editor/Designer: Lyndsay Bruno 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.

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National Farmers Union Women’s Conference When: March 3-5, 2017 Where: The Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa San Diego, California NFU holds an annual conference aimed at providing women farmers the resources they need to enhance their knowledge of their family farm operation and learn the value of leadership in rural communities and cooperatives. The conference builds on NFU’s experience in offering adult education classes specifically designed for women in agriculture and provides participants with important leadership and management skills, as well as networking opportunities.Visit: for details and to register.

National Farmers Union Convention When: March 5-8 Where: The Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa San Diego, California NFU's 115th Anniversary Convention will gather family farmers and ranchers from across the country, industry professionals and notable speakers at the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego, Calif, in March 2017. The convention provides NFU members and attendees the opportunity to learn, collaborate and grow through thoughtful discussions, breakout sessions and farm tours. We are pleased to offer attendees new learning opportunities this year while maintaining a focus on the issues that matter most to our family farmers and ranchers, such as the economy and defending the farm safety net. The state of the farm economy and the upcoming Farm Bill will be a primary focus for the convention’s keynote speakers and panel discussions, while an agricultural tour day will focus on local agriculture and cooperative learning. Register at: Representing Montana Farmers Union at the NFU National Convention are board delegates: Jan Tusick & William Downs; Eric Bergman,Charlotte Kelly, Maggie Shane, Alan Merrill and youth delegate Cory Kelly. MFU Board Secretary/Treasurer Erik Somerfeld will also be attending as a member of the national policy committee. MFU Staff attending include Membership Director Justin Loch and Communications Director Lyndsay Bruno.


Have you ever thought about installing solar panels on your roof but thought it was cost prohibitive? Would you like to control your future energy costs by investing in clean energy? Find out how community solar works and how you can participate at a free informational seminar Wednesday, Feb 22 at the Community Center at 307 W Watson Street, in Lewistown. The seminar will explain the basics of community solar and introduce the new community solar program planned by Fergus Electric Cooperative. Reg-

istration, coffee and refreshments begin at 4 pm with the presentation at 4:30 pm. There will be a question and answer period at the end of session. Community solar installations are centrally located solar panels to subscribers or in this case, co-op members. Members can purchase the output from the system, with electric credit coming off their FEC electric bill. This public seminar is free with pre-registration by Feb 15. Call MSU Fergus Extension at 535-3919 or email to register. The seminar is sponsored by Central Montana Resource Council, Fergus Electric Cooperative, Montana Farmers Union and MSU Fergus Extension.This event is free and open to the public.

Photo courtesy of Missoula Electric Cooperative.


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The cost of solar is dropping, the industry is growing but Montana doesn’t have the right policies in place to keep up with technology or demand. That is the message Solar Guy will be bringing in a five-stop tour of Montana that kicks off next week. In a new web video launched today, Solar Guy makes the case for change he will be sharing during the tour.

2017 Legislative session.“I think if enough of us get involved we can remove some very big obstacles that restrict energy choices,” he said. “It’s an idea that mobilizes many Montanans because solar can create good jobs, protect our way of life, and power our homes and businesses with affordable, homegrown energy.”

The Montana State Legislature is already considering several bills dealing with net metering, a policy that allows customers who generate their own power to put energy back on the grid and receive credit for excess power. Van Wert is concerned that the bills presented so far are either modest gains or policies that would actively limit energy choices. “A couple bills that came from the interim committee are progress, but I would Montana Farmers Union is a call them baby steps,” says Van proud sponsor of the whistle-stop Wert. “Unfortunately, there are tour. “Montana Farmers Union several more bills that actually is pleased to support efforts to take us backwards, making it more educate the public on alternative expensive and more difficult for forms of energy,” said President Montanans to choose solar.” Last Alan Merrill. “We support a broad September, the Energy and Telebased energy policy to reduce our communications Interim Comdependence on petroleum and mittee forwarded two net meternuclear energy through the de- ing bills for the 2017 session. One velopment of alternative sources bill, HB 52, would grandfather including solar energy.” existing net metered customers against any future changes to the Van Wert, who is the co-owner rate they receive for the power of Harvest Solar, says he took they generate. The other bill, HB on the Solar Guy persona after 34, raises the size limit on net merealizing many Montanans didn’t tered systems from 50kW to 250 have a voice during past legisla- kW for government entities. The tive sessions which failed to break cap would remain at 50kW for all through roadblocks which are privately owned systems. holding the solar industry back. He says the industry can learn While Van Wert is happy to see a from mistakes and intends to mo- proposal to lift the cap for govbilize thousands of Montanans to ernment entities, he believes more encourage the growth of Mon- needs to be done.“Our current tana’s solar industry during the energy system restricts energy “Montanans deserve the freedom to make our own energy choices,” says Brad Van Wert, a solar installer from Bozeman, who recently took on the social media persona of Solar Guy to harness demand for better solar energy policies in Montana. “Just as we harvest our own vegetables, meat or fish, we have the power to harvest our own energy too.”

Photo credit:The Solar Guy

choices and stifles opportunity • Thursday, February 2 – 4 pm at Draught Works for jobs and economic growth,” Missoula, MT says Van Wert. “Many customers, especially business owners, farm- • Monday, February 6 – 2 pm at the Celtic Cowboy ers and school districts, would Great Falls, MT invest in larger systems to meet their needs were it not for the ar“It’s time for better policies that bitrary cap.” provide Montanans the freedom The Solar Guy tour will kick off to generate their own energy and Tuesday, January 24 in Bozeman; allow solar businesses to flourthen continue on to Billings, Ka- ish,” says Van Wert. “This tour lispell, and Missoula before wrap- is about bringing Montanans toping up in Great Falls. Each event gether to learn about the next will feature Solar Guy alongside evolution of our energy economy local community members who and the sustainable, good-paying are doing their part to advance jobs that come from building and installing solar.” solar energy in Montana. The full schedule for the tour is as follows: • Tuesday, January 24 – 4 pm at the Bozeman Taproom Bozeman, MT • Wednesday, January 25 – 4 pm at Last Chance Pub and Cider House, Billings, MT • Tuesday, January 31 – 4 pm at Kalispell Brewing Co., Kalispell, MT


For more information on the tour and to view the Solar Guy videos, visit

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MEMBERSHIP NEWS lative specialist in the office. Members in Montana are also represented at the national level by National Farmers Union. The NFU office is located in Washington D.C. and has several staff working on Capitol Hill, representing Farmers Union members.


There’s no doubt that 2016 was a tough year in agriculture for producers with issues like low commodity prices, low cattle prices, input costs, delay in disaster payments, weather disasters and more. One can only hope that 2017 will provide a brighter future and more opportunities for producers and those involved in agriculture. Producers are not alone when things are tough. There are some things that a producer can do to help ease the burden of hard situ ations. Most importantly, join an Ag advocacy group that fits your beliefs and goals. This will help to give you a voice and an outlet to others who may be in the same situation. Networking with others may give you the chance to come up with new ideas that just may help you out and benefit your operation. Most Ag advocacy groups work on a legislative level to help initiate change for the benefit of producers. I encourage all members of their respective groups to pay attention to what’s going on at the legislative level and give your input and ideas so that your voice is heard. Member input and testimony when needed is very powerful and can help provide change. Currently MFU has two lobbyists working for members in Helena along with a legis-

Education is another powerful benefit of joining an Ag advocacy group. Montana Farmers Union provides education on many different levels and all ages ranging from youth to adult. Each year MFU provides education to youth through our camp programs at Arrowpeak. Campers are taught the foundations of Montana Farmers Union and learn leadership skills. MFU also works with youth through Ag Days in various counties teaching them agriculture related activities. Education doesn’t just stop with MFU membership. MFU is a proud sponsor of FFA and 4-H which helps reach thousands of youth at the local and state level. Aside from youth, MFU specializes in educating women. Each year MFU puts on a women’s conference focused on relaxation, networking, leadership, and empowerment. This year’s conference is being held February 10-12 at Chico Hot Springs. For producers of any size, MFU is holding its annual producer’s conference March 2425 in Havre, MT. Workshop topics at this event will include risk management, drones, legislative activity in D.C., future Farm Bill, value added agriculture, pulse crops and more.


tional opportunities. You never know what you might learn that can improve your operation. Cooperation is another key element of Montana Farmers Union. MFU supports and teaches the cooperative model. The cooperative model is taught first at the youth level through camps and school. At camp, the youth actually set-up and run a co-op store during their week at camp. Later college students are able to attend the College of Co-ops in Minneapolis through CHS. In the world of farming and small towns MFU knows that cooperatives can be a vital piece to sustaining. Cooperatives provide an opportunity for members to get better pricing, selection and access to many products that farmers and families depend on. Another benefit is for members to obtain a dividend in profitable times through the co-op which can help out members financially. In closing, I know keeping up and maintaining success in the world of agriculture can be hard during the present times. You are not alone. I encourage you to join Montana Farmers Union. In doing so you are given a voice, support, and opportunities for education to help your operation.

Montana Farmers Union is Montana’s oldest farm organization for over 100 years and most importantly advocates in support of family farms and ranches. If you are currently a member we want to say “thank you.” Please Education is presented through- encourage family and friends to out the year by MFU across the join and support MFU. For those state covering many hot issues in out there that are not members, agriculture. Education presented please consider MFU and join for is often free or at very little cost a year and see what we can do to and most of the time open to the help you! public. Please attend these educa-


MFU Board Member Paul Kanning, Daniels County Farmers Union & Madoc Local is hosting an Ag tech seminar in coordination with Nemont fiber, Pro COOP AG CENTER and Daniels County Conservation District, are hosting an Ag Technology Seminar Feb 6, at the Catholic Center in Scobey from 8:30 am - 12:30 with lunch provided. The half-day seminar will feature a fantastic lineup of industry leaders! The lineup includes: • Drones: Robert Blair, Agriculture for Measure, Lewiston ID (same dude who was at convention) • Grain Storage: Dave Ahern, IntelliFarms, Archie MO • Remote Monitoring: Taylor Jones, Ag Sense, Huron SD • Data Management: Corrie Nygaard, Border Plains Eqpt, Williston ND • Ag Apps: Brooke Johns, NRCS, Plentywood MT • Profit Mapping: Chris Heindrich, WinField United, Bismarck ND A big thank you goes out to Paul Kanning for all his hardwork in organizing the technology seminar!

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Robert Blair VP of Agriculture Measure

Barbara Patterson Government Relations Director National Farmers Union Robert Blair is the VP of Agriculture for Measure, Drone as a Service and a fourth generation farmer from north central Idaho managing 1,300 dryland acres of wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas, alfalfa, and cows. The farm is situated on the edge of the rolling hills of the Palouse and not far from his Alma Mater the University of Idaho where he received his B.S. in Agriculture Business. His journey with precision agriculture started in 2003 using a PDA for simple mapping. That evolved into all different types of equipment, including Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) in 2006. Robert is the first farmer to own and use a UAS. His vision and advocacy of these technologies helped him become the Precision Ag Institute’s 2009 International Farmer of the Year.

Jeff Winkler Mountain View Coop/Pulse Specialist - Workshop on pulse crops

As Government Relations Director for National Farmers Union, Barbara Patterson advocates for family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in Congress and the executive branch. Her focus is on trade, livestock, competition, cooperatives, nutrition, and food safety. Prior to her employment with NFU, Patterson worked as a policy associate for New England Farmers Union. Patterson graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and recently graduated with a Master of Science in Agriculture and Nutrition Policy from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Follow us on social media!


Jeff Winkler presenting at a recent MFU event in Fort Benton. 7

Eric R. Sannerud Co-founder& CEO Mighty Axe Hops

Eric R. Sannerud is a farmer, thinker, and entrepreneur. Eric is co-founder and CEO of Mighty Axe Hops, Minnesota’s largest hop farm. His first collection of poetry, Keep Your Eye Out, explores the reality and absolute sweetness of the farming life. Eric is a Minneapolis Saint Paul Business Journal 40 Under 40 and a Minnesota Business Magazine Top 35 young entrepreneurs. Eric is a founding member of the Central Minnesota Young Farmers Coalition, a Udall Scholar, and a Fellow of the Future. Registration opens Feb. 6 & closes March 15. The cost of the conference is $35 for members & $50 for nonmembers. Conference registration includes meals. Rooms are available for an additional $25 per night at the Havre Best Western Plus. Register at

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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

It’s that time of the year again! We are Junior Camp II: July 9th- July 14 preparing to kick off the 2017 camp seaAges 8-11 son. The Senior Youth Advisory Council Registration Deadline is June 25 (SYAC) has chosen the theme ROOTED for this year’s camp season. We will be foSenior Camp: July 16th- July 21 cusing on establishing roots in our young Ages 15-19 campers for MFU and the natural world Registration Deadline is July 2 and continuing to nourish and grow the roots in our teens and seniors. Mark your calendars for the 2017 Camp Season! We’ll see you there!!!



Alan Merrill President, Great Falls

Rollie Schlepp Vice President, Conrad


Erik Somerfeld Secretary/Treasurer

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Kelly Rutledge, District 1 Big Sandy

Sigurd Rudie, District 3 & 4 At Large, Fairview

Paul Kanning, District 3 Flaxville

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Brett Dailey, District 4 Jordan

Bill Courtnage District 1 & 2 At Large Fort Benton

William Downs, District 5 Molt Ben Peterson, District 5 & 6 At Large, Judith Gap

Jan Tusick, District 6 Polson 99

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Cristy Stengrimson and her husband Jeremy farm near Fairfield on the family farm. The farm has been in Jeremy’s family for five generations. Cristy is originally from Monarch and also comes from an agriculture background. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Great Falls. They have been together for 15 years and married for two. Alongside his dad and two brothers Jeremy farms barley and hay and the family also raise cattle. The couple has Cristy’s dad’s cows on share. They calve on the farm and then take the cattle to Monarch for summer pasture. With this comes a lot of time in Monarch, throughout the spring, summer & fall fencing and moving cows to different pastures.

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Jeremy's dad also has cattle that go out to summer pasture in Monarch. “Working with my family and on my dad’s ranch is also a big part of our life,” said Cristy. The Stengrimson’s have five children. Cristy stays at home and helps out on the farm when time allows while also raising the kids. Cristy says when summer time comes and the kids are home everyone pitches in. “It’s busy at times, Jeremy has a really close family, our neighbors are our family, we all help each other, it’s a group effort living and working on a farm/ranch.”

dan’s experience at camp was a great one! She learned a lot about leadership, Farmers Union and just had fun! We definitely plan on sending her back this summer!”

Cristy says she is hoping the farm can continue to stay in the family for generations to come, and perhaps one day one of her kids will continue the tradition.

When asked about the key to Cristy says the agriculture indus- maintaining a successful family try can be a challenging one to live farm she shared first-hand adand work in with rising input costs vice. “It takes a lot of hard work, and low future prices. “There will starting out with not much equity. always be some type of drought, For those taking over, make sure hail damage, or weather condition everyone has similar goals and a that could threaten or destroy a clear picture of where the farm crop,” said Cristy. “You just have or ranch is heading.” to ride out the storm sometimes.” Cristy says one thing she never On the flip slide she says the re- takes for granted are the sunrises wards outweigh the challenges. and sunsets. “You can’t get any Cristy and Jeremy’s daughter Jor- “Living on a farm the kids learn better than life on the farm. It’s a dan attended Arrowpeak Camp to work hard for what they want. very magical place to grow up, we this year. The camp experience It’s rewarding for them to help are blessed.” was the family’s first introduction take care of the cows and calves. to Montana Farmers Union. “Jor- They love it!”

“The farm is a big part of the kid’s lives,” said Cristy.

Jeremy & Cristy were married in August of 2014 10

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ly involved with the financing and the lobbying effort in support of COOL. Congress buckled to the threats from Mexico and Canada and refused to put labeling of Montana raised beef in place. Obviously this had an effect on all U.S. raised beef and we are now in the position of once again taking up this agenda.


Montana Farmers Union has long been a proponent of a clear and defined label of beef, known to most as COOL. This issue is still important to Montana cattle producers with our organization, and other Farmers Union states deep-

We are happy to join the United States Cattlemen’s Association for advocating for a clear and defined label for beef. As a producer, we in Montana can and should be proud of the beef we breed, raise and send to slaughter to be graced on the tables of American consumers.

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There are goals set by the USCA and include a team to advocate with the Food Safety Inspection Service and the new administration to move labeling to assure all Americans will know where their beef has been raised and can be assured of its safety before purchasing and feeding their families. All 50 states need to be joined in collaboration to get behind and push for this important label of our beef.

Letters can be written to retailers, media and others to get behind this important issue urging members of Congress and the USDA to move forward in adopting this long sought information on a label that consumers can read and A petition has been set up and understand before purchasing can be signed by going to https:// and feeding their family. It’s an isw w w. ch a n g e. o r g / p / f i s - a m e r i - sue important to all producers of cans-want-labeled-beef. livestock in the U.S. and time to join the effort.

LEFURGEY’S VISIT NORTH DAKOTA FOR FUE PROGRAM Scott and Misty LeFurgey are the 2017 Farmers Union Enterprise couple. Scott and Misty farm alongside Scott’s parents near Fort Benton. As part of the FUE leadership program they recently attended a training with other FUE couples in North Dakota. On the first day they did a DiSC profile which is a personal assessment tool. The second day of the trip the couples learned more about the FUE program and then attended the North Dakota Farmers Union State Convention. Misty says the program is very valuable. “We are learning what it takes to be a leader in Farmers Union and also in the community we live,” said Misty. “We learned about our personality and how to work easier with other personalities.” Misty said another great aspect of the program is discovering the diversity of agriculture. She said there are differences and similarities in the couples participating in the program, both of which they are learning from. “There are some differences. We all farm different types of things. There are some who raise livestock and a small amount of grains, some do both and then some of us do small grains, but we all raise different commodities. Some of the wives have little to do with the farm and some of us have a lot to do with the farm. Some of the similarities are that we are all small family farms and we all want to be leaders. We all work with our families. We all seem to have some of the struggles and worries as young farmers.” Each year Montana Farmers Union selects a couple to participate in

2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION Montana Farmers Union has hired two lobbyists to represnt MFU in Helena. They are Levi Ostberg and Eric Bergman. Levi and Eric attend hearings, testify on behalf of Montana Farmers Union, gather and track bill action. Montana Farmers Union sends out weekly legislative updates electronically or by hard copy if requested.If you are interested in receiving these updates, email lbr uno@montanafar mersunion or call the state office at 4526406.You can also follow the session and track bills by visiting by using the free online service LAWS(LegislativeAutomated Workflow System). Visit for details on how to access the system and for the legislative calendar. Follow us on Facebook,(@ M F U f a r m e r s ) Tw i t t e r ( @ M F U farmers) & Instagram(mfumt) for updates!

the program. The FUE leadership program includes couples from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The participating couples receive hands-on training on issues important to National Farmers Union such as advocacy and leadership. A continuation of the program is to attend the National Farmers Union Convention in San Diego and complete their year at the MFU state convention in October.

FUE couples: (left to right) Scott & Misty LeFurgey; Dwight and Lisa McMillan; Scott and Amber Kolousek.


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of Corn-Based Ethanol." The study, prepared by ICF, compares the environmental impact of corn ethanol and gasoline, emphasizIn January, the U.S. Department ing the benefits of the former. of Agriculture (USDA) published a report on the lifecycle According to the report, in 2014, greenhouse gas emissions of corn ethanol's greenhouse gas corn ethanol. National Farmers (GHG) emissions provided a 43 Union (NFU) was pleased with percent reduction in greenhouse the results of the report, which gas emissions when compared to emphasize the environmental conventional gasoline. With anbenefits of corn ethanol and un- ticipated engineering efficiencies, derscores the importance of the the value is expected to approach Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). 50 percent by 2022. Unfortunately, the news isn't so rosy for other agricultural sec- Furthermore, when farmers emtors. As U.S. dairy producers con- ploy a variety of conservation tinue to struggle in a weakened practices including no-till, cover farm economy, NFU's Board of crops, nitrogen inhibitors, and Directors released a resolution precision fertilizer applications, calling on legislators to provide corn ethanol provides GHG reassistance to struggling producers ductions of up to 76 percent and refund Dairy Margin Protec- when used in lieu of conventional tion Program (DMPP) premiums. gasoline. Looking ahead to the incoming administration, NFU hopes that These values project a greater other agricultural issues will be positive environmental impact considered as well. Although the from the use of corn-based ethaSecretary of Agriculture has yet nol than previous studies. ICF atto be named at the time of pub- tributes this largely to the methlication, NFU is looking forward ods by which increases in ethanol to collaborating with President- production have been achieved. elect Donald Trump's choices to The anticipated land use change lead trade, energy, labor, and the to meet growing demand has environment to ensure that fu- been less significant than initially ture policy takes into account the predicted, as have the associated needs and interests of the agri- emissions. Instead, intensification cultural community. on existing cropland has had a greater role in meeting increased USDA Corn Ethanol Report demand. Published NFU is pleased to see the reThe U.S. Department of Agricul- sults of USDA's report provide ture (USDA) published a report further evidence of the environtitled "A Life-Cycle Analysis of mental benefits of corn ethanol, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions particularly when coupled with RO G E R J O H N S O N N AT I O N A L F A R M E R S U N I O N

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conservation practices. The findings of this study underscore the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard and other biofuels policies that encourage the agricultural community's involvement in mitigating climate change. NFU Board Asks Congress to Assist Dairy Producers

as expected. The USDA provided initial relief to the dairy sector in recent months through purchases of surplus cheese, but the modest price rebounds have not been enough to stem the amount of producers draining their capital reserves or going out of business.

Although NFU ultimately would like to see Congress improve the As a weak farm economy contin- long-term safety net in the Farm ues to harm all U.S. farmers, the Bill, in the interim, short term redairy sector is in particular peril. lief will be necessary to protect a Multi-year price lows have made sector reeling from low prices and it challenging for dairy produc- business closures. ers to break even, a financial situation that, unless rectified, will President-Elect Trump Fills force many family farmers out of Cabinet Positions business. The President-elect proposed To compound the matter, the Robert Lighthizer as the chief neDairy Margin Protection Program gotiator for the U.S. Trade Rep(DMPP) has failed to provide the resentative (USTR). An attorney necessary safety net to keep pro- by trade, Lighthizer has primarily ducers afloat. represented the American steel industry during his four-decade NFU has consistently asked Con- career. He also served as deputy gress to implement greater sup- trade representative during Ronports for dairy producers, and ald Reagan’s presidency. If conexpressed disappointment when firmed, Lighthizer will negotiate direct assistance was not included international trade deals and repin the stopgap funding last month. resent the United States in global In December, NFU again sought trade policy organizations. relief for dairy farmers when its Board of Directors released a NFU is pleased that Lighthizer resolution calling on legislators to plans to withdraw from the Transprovide the U.S. Department of Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Agriculture (USDA) the author- looks forward to working with ity to provide direct assistance to the trade nominee on refocusstruggling producers and refund ing our nation’s trade negotiation DMPP premiums. objectives to promote fair trade policies that advance the interests The resolution notes that dairy of American family farmers and prices have fallen by more than 40 ranchers. percent in just the past two years, and that DMPP has not performed 12

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Andrew Puzder has been named Secretary of Labor, a position integral to regulating the national job market, abating unemployment rates, improving working conditions, and ensuring employment-related benefits. Puzder is currently the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, whose subsidiaries number Hardees and Carl's Jr. Like Lighthizer, Puzder has a legal background, and served as a lawyer before his time in the restaurant industry.

General of Oklahoma. As Attorney General, Pruitt has opposed several EPA measures, including the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule. NFU hopes that Pruitt will uphold the RFS as part of his environmental policy plan, and looks forward to working with the nominee on additional policies that will include the agricultural community in establishing climate resilience.

NFU hopes that, pending con- The Washington Corner can also firmation, Puzder will imple- be found at ment labor policies that ensure the physical safety and economic wellbeing of farmers and farmworkers, as well as federal immi- THOMAS TO SERVE AS gration reform that guarantees an DIRECTOR OF adequate labor force for a grow- MONTANA ing economy. Former Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has been tapped as the incoming Secretary of Energy. Before his tenure as Governor, Perry held several political positions in Texas, including Representative in the state legislature, Lieutenant Governor, and Agriculture Commissioner. For nearly a year, Perry has also served on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners. Given Perry's background in agriculture, NFU is hopeful he will prioritize the needs of farmers and rural communities. In particular, NFU anticipates his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), as it not only supports the economic interests of farmers, but it also establishes energy sovereignty and mitigates climate change. Trump also nominated Scott Pruitt as Administrator the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In his legal career, Pruitt specialized in constitutional law, contracts, insurance law, labor law, and litigation and appeals. He has served in the Oklahoma Senate, and is currently the Attorney


Ben Thomas, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture worker, will serve as the new director of the Montana Department of Agriculture come March. Thomas replaces former director Ron de Yong. Most recently Thomas was the Deputy Under Secretary for the Marketing and Regulatory Programs Mission Area at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He served as the Chief of Staff for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Mission Area, which encompasses the Farm Service Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service, and Risk Management Agency.Ben graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He received his Juris Doctor from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and his LL.M in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

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IT’S SCHOLARSHIP TIME! Headquarters Local of Cascade County Farmers Union One $500 scholarship.Visit or contact the MFU state office for criteria Application deadline is March 1. The Chouteau County Farmers Union Montana Farmers Union Scholarships

One $500 scholarship.Visit or contact Two $500 scholarships are made the MFU state office for criteria. available through the special ef- Application deadline is March 1. forts of the Education Committee and Montana Farmers Union. The Flathead The winner must be a high school County-Wide graduate planning to attend a uni- Local Farmers Union versity, college, community college or college of technology in One $500 scholarship. Visit monor out of state; the scholarship or contact must be used the year it is award- the MFU state office for criteria. ed; and Montana Farmers Union Application deadline is March 1. family membership dues must be Bud Daniels Memorial current. Scholarship

IAward criteria includes: • Scholastic Achievement • School Involvement • Community Involvement • MFU Membership • Farmers Union Involvement • Essay

All scholarship applications must be sent to and approved by the Montana Farmers Union Education Committee. The Application deadline is March 1. County Scholarships: The Cascade County Farmers Union offers a $500 scholarship. Visit or contact the MFU state office for criteria. The application deadline is March 1.


Daniels had a life-long devotion to improving the lives of rural Americans. He served as Montana Farmers Union president from 1989-1993 and was National Farmers Union vice president in 1992. The Montana Farmers Union will present a $500 scholarship in memory of Bud Daniels made available through the efforts of the Education Committee and MFU. Visit for qualifications or contact the state office. John Korsbeck Memorial Scholarship John Korsbeck earned the Torchbearer Award. Korsbeck was a Farmers Union Insurance agent from 1976-2005, and proudly served his country in Vietnam. Visit the website for qualifications or contact Kathryn Peterson at the MFU state office or a t : k p e t e r s o n @ m o n t a n f a r m e

V O L U M E 2 7


Fresh produce farmers will receive training and help developing their on-farm food safety Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) plans in three locations in Montana in March. The OnFarm Food Safety GAP Workshops will guide participants through the plan writing process. The trainings will be held March 2-3 in Billings, March 6-7 in Corvallis and March 9-10 in Kalispell.

farm. Others who will benefit from this on-farm food safety training include produce buyers who will learn about food safety measures and educators who can benefit by gaining an understanding of potential on-farm food safety risks to help produce growers identify and address them. The workshop is free for vegetable, fruit and nut crop producers. For non-produce farmers, educators and others taking the course, there is a $25 fee to cover the cost of course materials and lunch on both training days. To register go to: http://lccdc., then select “Training Events” from the drop-down menu then select the location option for the workshop you would like to attend.

The workshops are designed for fresh produce growers, especially those who are exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Rule. However, • Billings - March 2 & 3 at the Billings Food Bank the workshop will be useful to all fresh produce growers, as well • Corvallis - March 6 & 7 at the Corvallis Experiment Staas buyers of fresh produce, and tion educators working with growers • Kalispell - March 9 & 10 at of fresh produce. the Flathead Valley Community College Over 85% of past farmer participants completed a draft food safety plan while attending this Day one will begin at 9:30 am and training in 2016. “The purpose end at 4 pm. Day two will begin of the workshop is to provide at 9 am and end at 2 pm. tools and guidance so growers can write a food safety plan that This workshop is funded by a works for their farm,” said Jon- USDA Specialty Crop Block da Crosby, one of the workshop Grant and is sponsored by the leaders. The workshops will be Montana Food and Agriculture co-led by Nancy Matheson, Da- Development Network. vid Wise and Crosby. For more information contact Farmer participants will leave the Jonda Crosby at 406-227-9161 or . workshop with: • A draft Food Safety Plan for your farm. • Insight into the food safety risks on your farm and ways FOOD SAFETY to mitigate them. • The ability to implement new TRAININGS food safety measures and as- B Y J A N T U S I C K sure your buyers that food M I S S I O N M O U N TA I N F O O D ENTERPRISE CENTER safety is a p riority on your

F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 7

Ongoing Certified Food Protection Manager Trainings: Visit: publichealth/FCSS/RetailFood/ foodmanagertrainings Feb. 6 - Wholesale Success: a program designed to help small and mid-acreage fruit and vegetable farmers with one of the biggest challenges they face: growing their business! This class will give farmers the tools they need to ensure their produce is of the highest quality possible, manage crucial food safety risks, and develop and nurture relationships with customers. • Holiday Inn Downtown, 200 S. Pattee St. Missoula, MT • 8:00 am - 4:00 pm • Free for specialty crop producers; $100 for all others • Register and find details at: https://lccdc.ecenterdirect. com/events/336

• Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, 2310 University Way Bldg 2, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT • $150 • Register at: Feb. 22-24 - Preventive Controls Qualified Individual Training: Instructor Claude Smith will lead this 3 day training. Successful completion of the course certifies the graduate as a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual, who can prepare the required Food Safety Plan for your facility. Background in or significant knowledge of food safety required for attendees.

Contact Mr. Smith for more information: 406-994-3812. • Great Falls College, MSU Room B133 Feb. 7 - Hazard Analysis Criti- • See registration link for costcal Control Point (HACCP): reduced cost for specialty Work with Certified HACCP crop users trainer, Claude Smith, to un- • Register and find details derstand and create a HACCP a t : h t t p s : / / w w w. e i s e v e r y plan for your food business. w h e r e. c o m / e h o m e / i n d e x . • Holiday Inn Downtown, 200 php?eventid=220957& S. Pattee St., Missoula, MT • Free for specialty crop producers; $100 for all others • Register and find details at: https://lccdc.ecenterdirect. com/events/343 Feb. 21-22 - Better Process Control School (BPCS): Better Process Control Schools (BPCS) provide practical applications of requirements of both FDA and USDA. The two-day course includes the following subjects: Applicable Regulations, Microbiology of Thermally Processed Foods, Acidified Foods, Food Container Handling, Food Plant Sanitation, Records for Product Protection, Principles of Thermal Processing, Instrumentation and Equipment and Closures for Glass Containers.


V O L U M E 2 7

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Anaconda Stefanie Thompson 563.5991 Belgrade Craig Parker 388.6774 Billings Jim Mathews 656.2323 Billings Steve Plaggemeyer 294.9491 Billings Judd Long 252.9391 Bozeman Dean Derby 556.0893 Bozeman Trent Leintz 551.2163 Bozeman Art Hoffart 586.6230 Bridger Wesley Schwend 662.3930 Chester R. Gordon Elings 759.5065 Choteau Mathew Luedtke 466.5146 Circle Kaylen Lehner 485-3303 Conrad R. Gordon Elings 271.7047 Dillon Judy Siring 683.2365 Dutton Matt Luedtke Agency 476.3444 Fairfield Matt Luedtke Agency 467.3444 Fort Benton Robert Nelson 622.5053 Glasgow Del Hansen 228.2284 Great Falls Eric Hinebauch 453.8413 Great Falls Aeric Reilly 570-5853 Great Falls Faith Cardwell 268.0077 Great Falls Scott Walsh 761.2087 Great Falls Jeff Thill 452.7283 Hamilton Bryan Jones 363.6583 Hardin Melissa Wacker 665.1867

Havre Cindy Schubert 265.2693 Havre Susie LaSalle 265.3346 Helena Todd Crum 443.4630 Kalispell Randy Bloom 257.1252 Kalispell Charles Monroe 756.7720 Laurel Dallas Hagfeldt, Jr. 628.6649 Laurel Jeff Seborg 628.6649 Lewistown Tom McKenna 538.8736 Lewistown Raleigh Heitzman 538.8736 Libby Colleen Wood 293.6228 Livingston Daryl Hansen 222.7151 Malta Shane Anderson 654.1589 Miles City Tayler Kennedy 874.2560 Miles City Ron Watts 874.1804 Missoula Brad Bowman 721.2540 Missoula Pam Jacobsen 721.0599 Missoula Andre Marcure 543.7184 Plains Sally Miller 826.4633 Plentywood JR Johnson 765.2051 Ronan Andrew Luedtke 676.0173 Ryegate Audrey Stoican 568.2336 Sidney Cathy Hintz 488.8326 Terry Blayne Watts 635.5782 Thompson Falls Sally Miller 827.3221 Whitefish Rial Gunlikson 862.4700 Wolf Point Jesse Fleming 653.2200

Montana Farmers Union February Grassroots Edition  
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