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M O N TA N A
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
2016 CONVENTION FOCUSES ON PULSE CROPS, FARM ECONOMY, DRONES & FARM BILL
Friday night reception hosted by Farmers Union Insurance at the Heritage Inn
GREAT FALLS, MT PERMIT NO. 93
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE
Montana Farmers Union held its 101st annual convention in Great Falls at the Best Western Heritage Inn. The weekend was packed with workshops on drones, pulse crops, water rights, pesticide management, keynote speeches by Dr. Joe Outlaw and Eric McElvenny and visits from several elected officials including Governor Steve Bullock, Senator Jon Tester, Congressman Ryan Zinke and Superintendent of Schools Denise Juneau.
FUE Couple Brian & Barb Mothershead and daughter Dalaney
added business panel with Laura Garber of the Montana Poultry Growers Co-op, David Oien with Timeless Seeds and Brianna Ewert, Farm to Institution Coordinator, for Lake County Community Development. “The goal is to improve access to nutritious and fresh foods to our kids, hospitals and other areas,” said Ewert. “This path will lead to expanding markets for our farmers and ranchers.”
known nationwide for their trade marked Black Beluga lentils. Oien talked about the facility, production of his products and the company’s commitment to sustainable agriculture.
On Saturday, Robert Blair who is referred to as the “Unmanned Farmer,” and VP of a drone service company, shared his expertise on ways a farmer can use drone technology to reduce inputs and increase productivity. “There is a Garber talked about the new lot of knowledge on the farm and Dr. Joe Outlaw of Texas A & M poultry processing plant in Ham- we need to harvest that and use painted a realistic picture of the ilton which is housed on her farm. that information and knowledge.” farm economy and gave some ad- “This cooperative is extremely vice concerning the Farm Bill. He valuable for poultry growers,” Blair described the process of encouraged producers to fight for said Garber. “It’s a great way to using drones and what drone Title 1 payments and to work with provide local food to local peo- technology can tell us. “We can elected officials to begin work on ple.” ask ourselves: what can I do difthe Farm Bill as soon as possible. ferently? Did I turn on my corDavid Oien is a third-generation ners too fast when digging out Friday afternoon featured a value farmer. Timeless Seeds became the seed, do I need to slow down when seeding?” CONTINUED PG. 9
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WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!!!
IN THIS ISSUE MFU Sponsors Congressional Debate Page 3
Me m b e r Recr uited by James & Janice Knudsen, Malta Donald & Jacquelyn Hagadone, Poplar John & Agnes Mogan, Hinsdale Paul & Arline Koppenhaver, Terry Carol Larsen, Terry Michael O’Conner, Wolf Point Larry Schwindt, Lewistown Headwater Land LP, Bozeman John Michael, Livingston Sheridan David Kennedy, Three Forks Patricia Hart, Laurel Christopher Jeffrey, Joliet Justin & Jasper Gruel, Joliet Dennis & Marjorie Bower, Hardin Candace Bartelson Schenk, Joliet Terry Watkins, Roundup Jason & Kellie Longtine, Canyon Creek Vern Cheff III, Ronan Vern Cheff Jr., Ronan Dennis & Melvina Krantz Gerald & Kathy Meighen, Hot Springs Charles & Elaine Amestoy, Malta Dick & Patricia Lucier, Frenchtown W Edwin Stahl LLC, Missoula Chuck & Gerry Jennings, Great Falls Mike & Nancy Jensen, Plentywood Deverie Kelley, Deer Lodge Ty & Tami Malek, Highwood Steven & Destri Hilbig, Great Falls
Shane Anderson Del Hansen Del Hansen Ron Watts Ron Watts Jesse Fleming Raleigh Heitzman Dean Derby Daryl Hansen Craig Parker Dallas Hagfeldt Jr. Dallas Hagfeldt Jr. Wes Schwend Melissa Wacker Judd Long Judd Long Todd Crum Andrew Luedtke Andrew Luedtke Andrew Luedtke Andrew Luedtke Cathy Hintz Andre Marcure Andre Marcure Chris Christiaens Jon Redlin Ben Peterson MFU Lodge MFU Camp
Message from the President Page 4 Member Profile: Larsen Family Page 5 & 6 Convention Recap Page 8 & 9
In Memoriam Archie Bishop Conrad/Missoula Mrs. Matt(Louise)Antonich Belt
MONTANA FARMERS UNION PO BOX 2447 300 RIVER DRIVE NORTH GREAT FALLS MT 59403 PHONE: (406) 452-6406 FAX: (406) 727-8216 email@example.com www.montanafarmersunion.com Board of Directors:
Washington Corner Roger Johnson Page 10 Membership News Page 11
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, Youth & Event Coordinator Justin Loch, Membership Director Dave Snuggs, Facility Director
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR CONVENTION VENDORS!
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
-AERO, Helena -Big Sky Equipment, Conrad -Community Food & Ag Coalition, Missoula -Farmers Union Insurance, Great Falls -Lakeside Decoys, Helena -Groundworks Farm, Fort Shaw -Leanne Schillinger-American Solutions for Business/Trellys/Body by Vi -Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, Ronan -Montana Farmers Union, Great Falls -Montana Beef Council, Billings -Montana Cooperative Development Center, Great Falls -Montana Department of Agriculture, Helena
-Montana Department of Labor, Helena -Montana Land Reliance, Helena -Montana Organic Association -Montana Land Reliance -Montana State Grain Lab, Great Falls -My Neighbor in Need, Great Falls -National Center for Appropriate Technology, Butte -NRCS, Bozeman -Bill Woodhouse, Tesla, Power -USDA/NASS/MT FO, Helena
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 Staff Contributors: Justin Loch, Chris Christiaens, Kathryn Peterson & Alan Merrill
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CANDIDATES SQUARE OFF IN DEBATE SPONSORED BY MFU & GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE On October 5 at the College of Great Falls, Montana Farmers Union and the Great Falls Tribune sponsored a congressional debate with candidates Ryan Zinke, Denise Juneau and Rick Breckenridge. Over 300 people filled Heritage Hall and the overflow area. The Tribune’s Rich Ecke was moderator and reporter Peter Johnson was one of the panelists. Other panelists were Rollie Schlepp of Conrad, Montana Farmers Union board member; and Angela Marshall of Missoula, ABCFOX Montana news anchor. The event was live-streamed on video by ABCFOX Montana and STARradio. Candidates debated a wide range of topics including trade, the farm economy, the future of Malmstrom Air Force Base and gun rights. Specific to gun rights was that of a recent action by the Missoula City Council to require background
CHANGES DUE TO SENATE BILL 157 CHRIS CHRISTIAENS L E G I S L AT I V E & S P E C I A L P R O J E C T S
During the 64th Montana Legislative session, Senate Bill 157 was enacted. This bill changed the way the Department of Revenue will deal with the reappraisal cycle. The bill shortened the reappraisal cycle of class three and class four property from the previous six years to two years. A general document guiding the process for all residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural properties is being amended to clarify the 20172018 Montana Agricultural Land Classification Manual. This document will give details as to how these properties will be appraised. The manual was published in September of this year and is available on the Montana Department of Revenue’s website at: revenue. mt.gov or by calling Laurie Lo-
checks for gun purchases. Breckenridge said the action violates the constitution. “They need to review their oath of office,” he said. Juneau said she supports enforcement of gun laws already on the books.
Zinke said one has to be very careful when talking constitutional rights. The group also talked indian health care and national defense. In talking about preserving Malmstrom Juneau said: “We need to
protect the base.” The debate was re-broadcast on ABCFOX Montana stations.
to two years and left the six-year reappraisal cycle for forest lands. The information used by the department, and set out in their publications, will be considered to reflect January 1, 2016 cost Agriculture lands will reflect pro- information. Taxpayers may purductivity values as required in chase copies of the rules once adsections 15-7-201 and 15-44-103 opted by contacting the Montana of the MCA. The reappraisal of Department of Revenue Property agricultural land improvements Assessment Division: P.O. Box will consist of field reviews of 8018, Helena, Montana 59604each property to include a deter- 8018. mination of the accuracy of existing information in the CAMA The new appraisal guide and the system and on the property re- 2017-2018 Montana Agricultural cord card. There will also be the Land and Classification Manual observation of condition of the will be used specifically to approperty, a review of the quality praise residential, commercial of construction and depreciation and industrial properties as well assignment. This also includes as agricultural land. The departadding supplementary data which ment is in the process of formuincludes outbuildings. The rule lating the procedures to be used applies to the tax years of January in collection, verification and val2017- December 31, 2018. idation of the cost, sales, income and expense information. Keep Senate Bill 157 calls for the reap- in mind that when sales comparipraisal cycle of agricultural land son models are used the key com-
ponents that will influence value and appropriate level of influence is determined through the use of multiple regression analysis. They may also develop sales comparison models and separate income and expense models for each neighborhood and/or market area.
gan at 444-7905. The adoption of rules will be held November 9 at 2 p.m. in the third floor conference room of the Sam W. Mitchell building in Helena.
The changed process should better reflect values in a more timely manner and protect from large fluctuations in value as occurred over the six-year reappraisal process when values were adjusted over a six-year cycle for implementation. Interested persons should contact their local assessor for more details pertaining to personal property.
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A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT improved upon. Dr. Outlaw went on to compare the current commodities price, the downward spiral, and what if anything they can do with the next Farm Bill that could help agriculture. He did say that some in Washington are considering picking up the discussion in 2017 hoping to have a better Farm Bill in place quicker to help with the current financial situation in agriculture.
The 101st Montana Farmers Union Annual Convention is in the books. What a success! All the feedback was positive and enjoyed by all. Although there were some great speakers, I will concentrate on one topic, which is commodity prices and surviving the downturn. Dr. Joe Outlaw was our guest speaker at the Friday luncheon. Dr. Outlaw is from Texas A & M University and is well known in Washington D.C. His role there is to testify and interact with congress especially the agriculture committee staff to provide feedback on the consequences policy changes can have on agriculture. In other words, they want to hear from him on what is going on in the countryside and how the current Farm Bill is working and how the next Farm Bill could possibly be
2017 WOMEN’S CONFERENCE -FEBRUARY 10-12 -CHICO HOT SPRINGS -REGISTRATION OPENS MID-DECEMBER JOIN THE WOMEN’S COMMITTEE AND HELP PLAN THE EVENT! CONTACT THE MFU OFFICE FOR DETAILS. FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK & TWITTER FOR UPDATES!
Dr. Outlaw talked about the farm crisis of the 80’s and how it relates to today’s conditions. He pulled no punches in saying that we are going towards a trend similar to the 80’s, and will remain there for quite some time. He said some call him Dr. Doom because he’s often the bearer of bad news. This is especially true for someone just getting into farming and ranching who may be wondering why they should go through the trials and tribulations like their parents in the 80’s. My family endured that decade of challenges. It all seemed like a living nightmare at the time. Fortunately we were able to come out the other side. Being a survivor I now know that I can counsel people on how to move forward. First, you must be honest with yourself and your situation. Take action now by sitting down with your banker to discuss your operational needs now and in the future. Banks are now adding to your bottom-line a 20% fail save dollar amount for potential financial failure. Most
importantly do not compare yourself with your neighbors and what they are or aren’t doing. Stay the course with your operation. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Dr. Outlaw speak it is well worth the time. If you can’t catch him in person, he often testifies in front of congress which is televised on CSPAN. He is a realist always providing a big picture view and is a tremendous advocate for agriculture. We also had a presentation by the state FSA. They talked about a variety of direct and guaranteed loans programs. If tough times are plaguing your operation FSA is there with possible ways to help. Most of all don’t panic. I have worked with FSA. In fact, the agency’s programs kept my farm afloat. At the time I worried what my neighbors thought, but soon realized most of them had their own problems, some even worse. Always keep in mind that it is about your operation and your family. They depend on your clear thinking. If needed seek counseling on these matters. The FSA did caution that there will most likely not be enough money for the necessary loans farmers and ranchers will need for future operations. They advise planning ahead to prepare for the next crop year. It will take careful planning with professionals. Time is shorter to recover than it was in the 80’s so I encourage you to act now.
A Big Thank you to our 2016 Capitol Club! -Jeff & Katie Bangs, Inverness -Cascade County Farmers Union -Chouteau County Farmers Union -Brett & Donna Dailey, Jordan -Keith & Sharon Good, Floweree -Karl & Marion Hertel, Moore -Paul Kanning, Flaxville -Alan & Lorrie Merrill, Big Sandy -Beth Murphy, Great Falls -Henry & Vanette Nagamori, Loma -Dean & Trudi Peterson, Judith Gap -Gerald Redlin, Sidney -Jon & Karen Redlin, Lambert -Sigurd & Joyce Rudie, Fairview -Kelly & Kristie Rutledge, Big Sandy -Kelly & Kristie Rutledge, Big Sandy 4
-Rollie & Jennifer Schlepp, Conrad -Lyle & Betty Schwarzrock, Poplar -Dore & Patti Schwinden, Helena -Erik Somerfeld, Power -Jan & Will Tusick, Polson -John & Claire Wendland, Rudyard
Legislative Fund -Lela Didier, Chester -Eric & Amanda Doheny, Dutton -Nancy Jensen, Plentywood -Roger Johnson, Washington, DC -LeRoy Keller, Havre -Charlotte Kelly, Chester -Levi Ostberg, Fairfield
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THE LARSEN FAMILY
2016 Centennial Family
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 J O E L A R S E N / C O N T R I B U TO R
In the fall of 1915 Joe Larsen and his brother Axel worked on a threshing crew in north central Montana. At the end of the threshing season they each bought relinquished homesteads about eight miles north and east of Galata Montana. They then returned to Silverton Oregon for the winter. On March 29 1916 Joseph Martin Larsen and his wife Lovisa Hatteberg Larsen stepped off the train at Galata and went to their farm to begin their first year of farming. Lovisa was an accomplished gardener but having come from a virtual garden of Eden in Silverton it took her some time to adjust to the harsher dry climate at Galata. Joe was very knowledgeable in construction and a gifted wood worker. He built numerous buildings on the farm and was sought out to construct buildings on many of the neighboring farms, many of these buildings still stand today. Joe also worked on threshing crews for many years to raise more income.
th The Larsen Farm was recognized as a centennial family at the Member’s Banquet
enough money to farm for the year but they came back anyway. Somehow they made it and through the years added more ground to the farm and their last two children Joyce and LouAnn.
farm land as they could and more grain storage bins. They also bought a ranch in the Sweetrass Hills. Along with a cow calf herd they ran a feedlot there to use the excess hay from the large hayfields on the ranch, and feed Joe developed trouble with his barley raised on the farm to fatback and the jostling of running ten steers. The ranch was all paid the tractor was quite painful so by off, but after about 20 years of the age of 12 Quinten was doing running two operations that far the bulk of the tractor driving. As from each other Quinten decided a young adult Quinten also had a to only farm and sold the ranch. band of Columbia sheep for a They had six children, Cathy, BetIn 1919 the crops were very poor number of years and grazed them ty, Rita, Ann, Tammie, and Joe on the farm and in the area so in the Browning area part of the who all helped on the farm and there was little income from the year. It was in the Browning area ranch. farm and no work to be found. that he met a young lady from St They were about broke so Joe Paul named Julia who was work- Their son Joe was interested in and Lovisa went back to Silverton ing at Glacier National Park. A farming and after earning a Bach where Joe knew he could get a job romance began and the two were elor’s degree in Ag Business at for the winter in a saw mill. By married and they began to take MSU in 1981 he returned to the this time, they had children, two over the farm. As Joe and Lovisa farm and started buying ground year-old Alvina and Quinten who retired part of the farm was given from his parents. Quinten and had been born on the farm in to each of their four children. Julia also gave each of their chilFebruary of ‘19. By spring it was Quinten and Julia lived on the dren some acreage of the farm. doubtful that they had enough original farmstead and added Joe and his wife Barb have lived
and worked on the farm in a house that Grandpa Joe and Quinten built to house a displaced family from world war II. They raise hard red winter and hard red spring wheat, feed and. malt barley, durum, and both green and yellow field peas. Our two children Eric and Sarah helped work on the farm as they grew up. We continue to add and rent more ground and have changed to a no till system of summer fallow. Eric is married to Carlie and they have a daughter Raeya. Sarah is married to Chase Anders and they have a daughter Gracelyn and a son Mclean. Both Eric and Chase help at busy times on the farm as their jobs allow. The Larsens have been working on a succession plan in C O N T I N U E D N E X T PA G E
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L A R S E N C O N T.
hopes that the farm can continue in the hands of a fourth generation and beyond. Each of the three generations so far have been very involved in the local community as leaders in church, school, and organizations such as scouting and 4-H, and also been active with cooperatives in our area, those being the Galata co-op service station and the union elevator at Galata. However, times have changed and those two enterprises no longer exist. Both Eric and Sarah attended and helped put on Farmers Union day-camps and overnight camps. Quinten and Julia were Farmers Union to the bone. Joe Larsen reflects over the years and says a few things that stand out in the form of changes are the first being water. “Water at first was hauled with a team of horses and also collected off roofs from rain for household use and cattle,” said Joe. “Later it was hauled by truck and now it is delivered by underground pipe. Those first two generations had to be ultra-frugal with how they used a gallon of water and sometimes couldn’t be too fussy about how pure it was. We remain conservative and conscientious of how we use water.” Secondly, Joe and his dad talk about the overall increased efficiency of farm operations. He says it takes a lot less time to cover one acre in farming operations like summer fallow, seeding, or harvesting than it did in previous years. Joe quoting his dad Quinten: “I want to tell you something, we’ve covered more acres in this one day than I could do in a week when I was your age and we’ve done more acres today than your grandfather would have done in a whole year when he started farming.”
The next generation: Left to right: Gracelyn & Mclean Anders, Raeya Larsen
Thank you to our 2016 Convention Sponsors!!! -2J’s Fresh Market, Great Falls -Ameriprise-David Milkovich, Great Falls -Burlington Northern Santa Fe -Central Montana Radio, Great Falls -CHS Inc., St. Paul, MN -Farmers Union Industries, Redwood Falls, MN -Farmers Union Insurance, Great Falls -First Interstate Bank, Great Falls -KFBB, Great Falls -KRTV, Great Falls -Malteurop, Great Falls -Mountain View Co-op, Black Eagle -Montana Electric Cooperatives Association, Great Falls -Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, Great Falls -Northern Ag Network, Billings -Northwest Farm Credit Services, Great Falls -RBC Wealth Management-Steve Yanuszka & Amy Strom, Great Falls -Stockman Bank, Stanford -Tintina Resources Inc., White Sulphur Springs
The early days of farming
According to Joe another significant factor is the amount of hard physical labor needed to get the job done. “The earlier generations had to cope with extreme heat and dust, it is really mind boggling and though we do work hard long hours there really is no comparison.” Although farm operations have changed significantly, and for the better said Joe, there are still some challenges facing farmers today. “The cost of producing a bushel and the price we get for that bushel are terribly close and sometimes a negative number, and of course the weather.
The Larsen Farm
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A.W. Baack Farm celebrates centennial
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Ron Jaraczeski accepts retirement plaque for years of service
Jeff & Katie Bangs present check with proceeds from 5K on the Farm
A.W. Baack Farm celebrates centennial
Officers: left to right: John Wendland, Ben Peterson, Rollie Schlepp, Erik Somerfeld, Jan Tusick, William Downs, Jeff Bangs & Roger Johnson, NFU President
Jim Parker and Alan Merrill announced that the 2016 Ralph Parker Memorial Golf Tournament raised $5,000 to go to Montana State University for scholarships for co-op curriculum. Eric McElvenny,Tara Rios, Jaxson Parkinson, Cory Kelly, Kathryn Peterson, Nicole HartfordHilbig,Wyatt Wientjes
Leif Bergman at the youth luncheon
A.U. Bishop Ranch celebrates centennial 8
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C O N V E N T I O N C O N T.
Blair also talked about the next Farm Bill and how it needs to better address the use of drone technology including a break for producers who incorporate the technology to reduce risk. Next was a panel on pulse including representatives BNSF, CHS, the Montana Advisory Committee, the Dry Pea & Lentil Council, researcher from Montana University.
keting side of yellow peas is easier and the value is high. If you get a little braver try lentils, perhaps chickpeas. The risk is greater with chickpeas, but so is the reward.” However he warns chickpeas will require almost daily monitoring and spraying - up to three times a year which can be a significant cost.
crops from Pulse USA Ron de Yong, Director of the Monand a tana Department of Agriculture, State moderated the panel. “As far as the pulse crop market there is so much opportunity for producers Kim Murray, Chair of the Mon- to profit,” said de Yong. “If we tap tana Pulse Advisory Committee into the ingredient market there is says the largest market of pulse a lot of potential and the future is crops is the ingredient market bright.” right here in the United States. “As millennials in this country The highlight each year of Saturstart to increase their consump- day’s youth luncheon is recognition and support the market it will tion of MFU’s youth leaders who make a tremendous difference in have exceeded expectations and consumption and demand,” said excelled in MFU youth programs. Murray. The Torchbearer Award was givMontana is the number one pro- en to three recipients: Tara Rios ducer of pulse crops, but many of Geraldine, daughter of Marc producers are just dipping into & Lisa Rios; Cory Kelly of Chesthe market. Murray’s recommen- ter, son of Edward & Charlotte dation to producers is to start Kelly and Alexandra Poindexter with yellow peas. He cautions that of Geraldine, daughter of Kristy if a producer is a grain farmer, Poindexter, who was unable to atthe key to success is being very tend. familiar with their chemical regimen to reduce risk. “One of the Four Montana Farmers Union jureasons why I recommend start- nior youth received the Mildred ing with yellow peas as the mar- Stoltz Scholarship Award. The re-
Attendees took home a custom fall arrangement
cipients were: Will Anderson of Great Falls, son of James Anderson & Julie Kuykendall; Jaxson Parkinson of Power, son of Sara Linder-Parkinson and Corey Parkinson; Nicole Hartford-Hilbig of Great Falls, daughter of Steve Hilbig & Destri Hartford- Hilbig, and Wyatt Wientjes of Molt, son of John and Rebecca Wientjes. Jim Parker and Alan Merrill announced that the 2016 Ralph Parker Memorial Golf Tournament raised $5,000 to go to Montana State University for scholarships for co-op curriculum students. Retired marine and triathlete Eric McElvenny delivered an inspiring and courageous keynote address at Saturday’s luncheon. McElvenny shared his story of going from having his right leg amputated below the knee after being wounded on his third tour in Afghanistan to competing in a triathlon in Hawaii. “The power of a positive attitude can get you through anything,” said McElvenny. Also at the luncheon, Jeff and Katie Bangs presented President Alan Merrill with a check for $600, proceeds from the 5K on the Farm race the couple hosted on the family farm in September.
the Saturday evening Members’ banquet. Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union, spoke. He addressed the Farm Bill and talked trade and corporate consolidation. Election results for new officers was announced at Saturday’s luncheon with the installation of officers Saturday evening. They are: Rollie Schlepp, Vice President; William Downs, District 5; Erik Somerfeld, District 2; Jan Tusick, District 6; Ben Peterson, District 5 & 6 At-Large, John Wendland as Doorkeeper and Jeff Bangs as Conductor. Delegates were also selected to represent MFU at the National Farmers Union Annual Convention in March. Representing the board will be: Jan Tusick, William Downs and Erik Somerfeld. Representing membership will be Eric Bergman, Barb Mothershead and Charlotte Kelly. The night concluded with the Centennial Farm & Ranch honors. Three families were honored: the A.U. Bishop Ranch, A.W. Baack Centennial Farm and the Larsen Farm. We want to thank all the gracious speakers, panelists, youth leaders and members who traveled great distances to attend the event!
The convention concluded with
A floral class taught by Rebecca Knotts of Wildwood Floral
Pr 1 2 S Tr R S Pa
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the past few decades, federal enforcement actions pertaining to RO G E R J O H N S O N antitrust have waned, especially N AT I O N A L F A R M E R S U N I O N where companies argue that largNFU continues to stand against er, combined businesses can offer the recent onslaught of mega- lower prices,” Johnson told memmergers in agriculture. NFU tes- bers of the committee. “But when tified before the Senate Judiciary competition is limited, there are Committee in late September to no long-term safeguards against let Congress know that farm- future price hikes.” ers are getting squeezed on all sides, and that consolidation has Since February of this year, increated less competition in the dustry megadeals have been anmarketplace, causing input pric- nounced between Syngenta and es to increase and innovation to ChemChina, Dow Chemical and decrease. NFU also continues to DuPont, and Bayer and Monpush Congress for adequate sup- santo. According to market data, port for family farmers and ranch- these deals would result in a comers during this period of very low bined three companies controlcommodity prices. While cost of ling more than 80 percent market production remains high for pro- share of the U.S. corn seed sales ducers, the prices they are receiv- and 70 percent of the global pesing for their products continue to ticide market. slide. The USDA announced in October that it would be making Johnson used the example of more than $7 billion in ARC and the availability of choices for his PLC payments to provide some farm in Turtle Lake, North Daassistance to farmers and ranch- kota, to illustrate the effects of ers. NFU is calling for additional more consolidation. “Availability measures to be taken by Congress of canola traits in Turtle Lake ofto allow the USDA to address the fers an important picture of what problem adequately. As we move further consolidation could bring. towards the writing of the 2018 Currently, Dow offers five canola Farm Bill, Senator Debbie Sta- traits, DuPont offers three traits. benow (D-Mich.) has introduced A reduction of one or two traits is legislation that will help bridge significant, and the existing comthe divide between the food con- petition would disappear. The sumer and the farmer with the Bayer acquisition of Monsanto provides a similar example with Urban Agriculture Act of 2016. cotton. This acquisition would NFU Stands Against Ag Con- re-join two cotton brands which DOJ ordered separated 10 years solidation: ago when Monsanto acquired NFU President Roger Johnson Deltapine. This would certainly joined a panel of corporate exec- be to the detriment of cotton utives and advocacy group lead- farmers across the south.” ers to testify before members of the Senate Judiciary Commit- Johnson noted that the nation’s tee about the alarming trend of antitrust laws had clearly failed consolidation in agriculture.“In farmers and consumers, and of-
fered three recommendations for Congress:
comprehensive safety net package in the next Farm Bill in a way that more accurately reflects true 1.Greater Congressional over- costs of production. sight of food system antitrust matters through hearings and lis- Dairy Industry In Need of tening sessions. Support 2.Congress should prevent consolidation that results in a few U.S. dairy producers are facing firms controlling a substantial the business-crippling burden of portion of market share of a sec- multi-year price lows. Milk prictor. es have dropped by more than 3.In the case of foreign invest- 40 percent in the past two years, ment in the U.S., additional leg- and the Dairy Margin Protection islation is required to clarify Program (DMPP) has not providexemptions from FSIA in the in- ed the safety net needed to cope stance of commercial activities with this decline. As a result, adin order to level the playing field. ditional avenues for direct assis“A robust agricultural economy is tance must be explored to help key to a stable and secure nation. struggling dairy farmers. Increased consolidation in the sector puts family farmers and NFU put together an emergency their communities in jeopardy,” dairy committee in July to adhe concluded. dress shortcomings of the DMPP and work with Congress and the USDA Issues Safety Net Pay- USDA to propose meaningful adments justments to the dairy farm safety net. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in early In September, NFU asked ConOctober that it would be making gress to allow the USDA to either more than $7 billion in safety net respond to the crisis through price payments to many of the 1.7 mil- support activities or to refund lion farms enrolled in either the 2015 DMPP premiums, which toAgriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) taled $73 million. And in October, or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) several lawmakers offered their programs. The payments will pro- support, echoing NFU’s request vide needed assistance to farms for Congress to provide USDA that are facing severe strife amid the necessary scope to provide the current economic downturn. assistance to the dairy sector. In a letter to the Senate AppropriaNFU looks forward to continued tions Committee, the lawmakers engagement with the USDA as also asked for funds for the Nathey assist producers struggling tional Agricultural Statistics Serduring this challenging environ- vice to complete a state dairy feed ment. The organization will also costs survey. continue to promote the importance of a strong farm safety net, Washington Corner can be found by and will work with Congress to visiting nfu.org/corner/. encourage improvements to the 10
V O L U M E 2 7
BY JUSTIN LOCH M E M B E R S H I P D I R E C TO R
Agriculture is a tough profession for anyone to be involved in and be successful. There are so many odds and variables stacked against a producer. Commodity prices, weather, soil health, input costs, equipment costs, access to land and capital. The list goes on. But there are some things that producers can do, especially new and beginning farmers. Get involved in Montana Farmers Union and take advantage of its programs. A lot of times these programs come at little or no cost to the member. Education is one area a
producer can learn and help im- focused on just them. prove their operation and lessen the impact of some of the road In March, MFU will hold the anblocks they may potentially face. nual Young Producer Conference in Havre, MT. MFU’s annual convention, recently held in October, is a great ex- Th Young Producer Conference ample of the depth of education is not limited to young producopportunities the organization ers, but is open to anyone with has to offer. Attending the event an interest in agriculture. This is a great way to network with day and a half conference is full other producers, speakers, and of speakers, education, food, and vendors. Most importantly con- entertainment. It will focus on vention is a time for members to popular areas in agriculture such come together and work to shape as finance, succession planning, policy that MFU uses to repre- technology, livestock, leadership, sent our membership. It’s policy and much more. MFU encourages derived and shaped by members all members and supporters of at convention that becomes the agriculture to attend. cornerstone of MFU’s work for the next year. At the national level National Farmers Union has a couple proWith convention behind us we grams for producers including now shift focus to the annual the Beginning Farmer Institute, women’s conference in February of which I am involved in. The at Chico Hot Springs. This is a program consists of three weekgreat opportunity for women to ends of classes. It’s focused on a network and attend workshops wide-range of topics relevant to related to women in agriculture. all types of producers. Our first I encourage all women in sup- class met in September during the port of agriculture to attend this NFU Fly-In. Our next trip will be event as it is truly focused on giv- to Salinas California in Noveming women a weekend away and ber. Lastly we complete the prothe opportunity for them to be gram at the national convention in comfortable in an environment San Diego in March. I encourage
all new and beginning farmers to apply. This is a wonderful learning experience. You will make lifelong friends and learn about different types of agriculture. It’s well worth taking the time to fill out the application and the cost is minimal. At the National Farmers Union Convention producers from all over the U.S. come together to address common issues and work on policy. If selected as a delegate by your respective state it’s a chance to have your voice heard. NFU also does a great job providing educational workshops and tours during the convention. For a MFU member these are just some of the programs and opportunities that are available. I encourage all members to get involved at the state and even national level. If you are interested in finding out more about ways you can get involved with MFU please feel free to call me anytime There is something for everyone, no matter your age or experience.
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