Southeastern Montana Update | Sage Grouse, Small Ranchers, and Mid Year

By Fred Wacker, Miles City, Southeastern Region Director

Fred Wacker Montana Cross Four RanchHere in Southeastern Montana, Miles City, surrounding towns and communities are all abuzz with talk of the up-coming 2014 Mid-Year Montana Stockgrowers Convention on June 13 & 14. People are excited to welcome Montana Stockgrowers members, guests, and supporters to Miles City for the 130th convention of Montana’s oldest and most respected agriculture organization. People are excited about the concert, featuring The Bellamy Brothers, who are known to play music that everyone enjoys. The concert, along with the all horse and livestock parade, and the convention, with featured speakers, Montana Governor, Steve Bullock, and President of the NCBA, Bob McCan, has the entire area looking forward to a great convention with lots of fun and something for everyone. Thanks to the business community for all of their financial support, this mid-year convention will be one of the best ever.

Stockgrowers members in Southeastern Montana have voiced support for the new smaller rancher dues structure that was unanimously passed by Montana Stockgrowers Association Board of Directors, and will be offered for adoption to the general membership at the Mid-Year convention. A review of the ag census data clearly shows that there are many more small ranchers in Montana that are not members of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. This new dues structure should allow the Association to have more members, which brings more clout when dealing with important issues.

Most all of Southeastern Montana is in the area involved in the new Sage Grouse plan. The restrictions and rules concerning the average ranch operation are of great concern to all ranchers and landowners in Southeastern Montana. MSGA board members, association members, and other interested parties have appeared at many hearings concerning Sage Grouse, and are keeping a watchful eye on the situation.

The wonderful moisture condition in Southeastern Montana, this spring, has brought green grass, full reservoirs and ponds to most areas. It appears to be the start of a great grazing and haying season, which is so important to all ranchers. The reports of above average snow pack, in the mountains, has everyone along the rivers hoping for an orderly melting of snow in the mountains that will not cause flooding in the area.

2014 brings continued enjoyment of an excellent cattle market. There have been many reports of early interest in contracting calves and yearlings at record prices. If the rains continue, and we have a great corn crop, this could be a record year for Montana ranchers.

As I am in my 3rd year as a board member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, I can assure you that your association has a very dedicated and capable staff, officers, and board members who all work hard for the good of Montana ranchers. It is a pleasure to be a part of this fine organization. Make plans to come to Miles City, and take in the 130th mid-year convention. Hope to see you in Miles City, where the cowboys ride.

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