Bison, Biotech, & Taxes Headline MFBF Conference


The following is a press release from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation:

Free-range bison, weeds, taxes and genetically modified grain labeling were several of the timely topics covered at the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Summer Conference June 12-14 in Fairmont Hot Springs. The summer conference is the time when members from 11 advisory committees discuss issues and work on policy ideas. The advisory committees range from animal health to forestry and weeds, as well as the MFB Women’s Leadership and Young Farmer and Rancher committees.

Lauri Hanauska-Brown with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, spoke to the Livestock, Sheep and Animal Health Committees on developing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for bison restoration in Montana. Hanauska-Brown presented potential actions, which ranged from not introducing bison to having 1,000 head of free-roaming animals. The issues of concern included fencing, disease monitoring, economic impacts, and interaction with wildlife and humans. MFBF committee members expressed skepticism regarding the sincerity of the MTFWP to take the landowners’ viewpoints into consideration.

Another controversial topic presented by Doug Jones from Growers with Biotechnology to the Wheat, Small Grain and Weed Committees looked at labeling food made with genetically modified grains. Jones said labeling, “is unnecessary, because the majority of grains today have some genetic modification. Ninety-five percent of sugar beets, ninety percent of soybeans, cotton and canola, and eight-five percent of corn is genetically engineers. It has been tested by the US Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration and is safe.”

However, Montana Farm Bureau member Bob Quinn noted in the discussion that he believes consumers have a right to know about all the food they purchase, and a labeling system would do just that.

Other topics discussed included a review of  MFBF’s safety training program, Always Be Careful on the Farm, improving bio-security for your farm, and an update on Montana Farm Bureau’s lawsuit against the Montana Department of Revenue regarding unfairly implemented taxation.

The conference included a Thursday tour of interesting sites in Deer Lodge: the Montana Prison Ranch, the Old Prison and the Powell County High School AG-Ed FFA Animal Science Center. Members found the Prison Farm Dairy especially interesting.

MFBF members at the tour of the Montana State Prison Farm Dairy.

MFBF members at the tour of the Montana State Prison Farm Dairy.

“It was amazing how cows just walked into the milking parlor and stepped over to be in exactly the right spot for milking. The way the cows are monitored closely to check on their milk production and health was impressive. Their cows looked very good,” said Catherine McDowell from Powder River County Farm Bureau.

Theo Yanzick, Carbon-Stillwater County, thought the FFA Farm was fantastic. “Bill Lombardi’s dedication to the farm was amazing, and it’s great high school students are able to work with animals ranging from poultry to sheep, pigs to cows and even horticulture,” Yanzick said. “It’s such a good way for kids who don’t know anything about agriculture, especially livestock and soils, to get exposed to it.”

Montana Farm Bureau President Bob Hanson deemed the conference an outstanding success. “Our members had the opportunity to share their concerns with their committees, and develop some ideas to be used in our policy development process,” Hanson said. “In addition, the tours allowed our members to take a glimpse into the impressive way the dairy is run at the prison farm, and see how the Deer Lodge FFA farm offers hands-on agricultural experience to students.  Our old-fashioned carnival Wednesday evening was a great time and raised money for the MFB Foundation. This entire event was enjoyable for the entire family, and we’re pleased at the high attendance numbers and excellent discussions that took place.”


Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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