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Montana Ag Network: April 3rd Report – Farm Bill coverage, legislative conferences

Wednesday’s report comes from Washington, D.C. where ranchers are gathering to advocate for the livestock industry this week.

Montana Ag Network will have more on the national Cattlemen’s beef Association legislative conference.

MTN News recently spoke with Collin Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Peterson acknowledged the tough winter for Montana farmers and ranchers.

“Fortunately, we got the farm bill done and most of these problems that are being created by this weather and by the bad winter are basically covered in that farm bill,” he said. “People need to go into the FSA office, NRCS office and make sure they’re aware of all the programs and whatever.”

He said the farm bill will not cover damages for flooding that occurred in states like Nebraska and South Dakota this past month.

“The South didn’t have crop insurance and they had a different kind of a situation, so they’re not covered by the farm bill,” Peterson added. “The other problem we’re having is getting the bill implemented as quick as we can. It’s going slow and we’re putting the heat on them. But you know, they’re not moving too fast.”

While Montana’s dairy industry is small compared to the national average, Peterson has urged Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue to make implementing the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program and its provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill a high priority to provide assistance to the nation’s dairy farmers.

“Tell those dairy farmers to not sell out,” Peterson said. “This program, once it gets up and running, is going to save them. So, I’m just trying to keep people from going out of business. We’re not going to be able to sign up till June, but it’s going to go back to the first year for producers to file on.”

Also this week in Washington, cattlemen and women gathered for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Spring Legislative Conference.

Attendees are  advocating for the livestock industry on multiple levels, according to Jennifer Houston, the President of NCBA.

“While we’re out in the countryside making a living whether you are calving in Montana, getting your hay up and cattle out to grass, NCBA is a voice in DC,” said Houston. “Our staff and volunteer leaders are here in the nation’s capitol everyday trying to be sure that you can stay in business from year to year. Whether it’s visiting Congressional offices, business with agencies, or even the White House, they’re looking out for us whether it’s on trade whether it’s on tax reform Waters of the U.S., Endangered Species Act and so much more.”

Baker, Montana rancher Wanda Pinnow is a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and also serves as President of the American National Cattlewomen.

Pinnow will discuss several issues this week, but one at the top of her list is how the USDA and FDA will regulate alternative cell-based proteins.

Pinnow said she will sit on meetings with the NCBA and USDA for Montana and bring home what she learns.

“I will go back home, inform our executives and fellow ranchers on what USDA and FDA’s plans are to regulate the alternative proteins. I will give my point of view and feelings on the matter and how the agencies should handle the plans,” she said.

The NCBA Spring Legislative Conference will conclude Thursday afternoon with an address from Greg Doud, the Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.

-Reported by Lane Nordlund/MTN News

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