Montana Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE) will be holding its 40th Annual Meeting in the Broso Room of the Big Horn Resort in Billings, MT, on Wednesday, September 7th at 8:00 am. The meeting will conclude prior to the beginning of the 2016 Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture Conference, also being held at the Big Horn Resort in Billings, MT
“We, as members, will always wear red until agriculture is in the black,” said Montana WIFE President, Whitney Klasna, of Lambert, MT. That is why Women Involved in Farm Economics wears red when representing WIFE.
WIFE was founded nationally in 1976 and the Montana Chapter was formed shortly after. Since that time, Montana WIFE has been involved in “everything from education, health care, taxation, the Farm Bill, and several other issues that affect us as ag producers,” she said.
One of their focuses is protecting private property rights. “Several members in Montana have been directly affected by monument designations from the President and overreaching regulations from the Administration and Agencies,” said Klasna. Because of that WIFE is actively trying to change the way the Antiquities Act, the Equal Access to Justice Act, and others is used at the federal level. That means heading back to Washington D.C. to meet with politicians and industry stakeholders. It also means staying involved at the national level of WIFE. “Our Montana Past President Linda Newman has been serving National WIFE President for the past 2 years,” Klasna noted
WIFE is also involved in lobbying for limiting the transfer of bison out of Yellowstone Park to private landowners. “We want to make sure that Montana bison stay classified as livestock and make sure that transfer to private owners is minimized,” said Klasna. “We are very concerned with the American Prairie Reserve and the wildlife classification of bison on Tribal lands.”
Another agricultural aspect that is important to WIFE is ag education. “We understand the benefits of ag education in the schools, all the way up to the high school level,” she said. To make sure that ag education grows throughout the school years, WIFE works with the Ag in Montana Schools organization and helps out with a variety of ag-related classroom material. “We make sure teachers have updated materials to use and relevant ag material they can easily integrate into their curriculum.” she said. And, every year, they host the Montana Ag Calendar contest for children in grades K to 6. Children are encouraged to draw an agriculture scene and winners from each grade level are selected. The winning drawings are published in a calendar each year.
In the next few months, WIFE will be promoting those calendars, attending the 40th Annual National WIFE Convention, setting national policy, heading to Helena for a state Legislative Conference there and going to the national Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. They have also be taken over the responsibility of organizing the annual Women Stepping Forward in Ag Conference. “We're excited about that,” said Klasna. “In the past that conference had been organized by the USDA and the Farm Service Agency. They have now passed the torch onto Montana WIFE and we have been working with other Montana ag organizations to put on this annual conference.”
Women involved in Montana's WIFE program are growing in national influence and respect. To find out more about WIFE, to join, or to offer support, go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/MontanaWIFE or email them at WIFEmontana@gmail.com