Governor Gianforte Holds Roundtable with Ag Leaders

by Colter Brown

HELENA, Mont. – To mark Montana Agriculture Day, Governor Greg Gianforte today convened a roundtable discussion with ag leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

“Agriculture is Montana’s number one industry, and we’re committed to being a good partner to producers as they drive our economy, strengthen our communities, and feed the world,” Gov. Gianforte said. “With farmers and ranchers in mind, we delivered Montanans the largest tax cut in state history, and with farmers and ranchers in mind, we’re investing in value-added ag, keeping land in production, and pushing back against federal overreach that threatens family-run operations.”

The roundtable, first held in 2021, has become an annual tradition for Gov. Gianforte and Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras during Montana Ag Week.

Over a dozen industry partners joined the governor at the roundtable today, praising his focus on tax relief as once-in-a-generation inflation impacts the industry.

“The biggest issue we’re facing is input costs – they’re just eating us up,” Montana Stockgrowers Association President John Grande said. “How can state government help? By reducing red tape, by making it cheaper to do business, and by decreasing our business equipment taxes, and you’re doing that.”

Several leaders, including Grande, highlighted the benefit of the governor raising the business equipment tax exemption from $300,000 to $1,000,000 to offset rising input costs. Reforming this tax to reduce the burden on agricultural producers has been a top priority of the governor’s since taking office.

“We’re facing extraordinary costs when it comes to equipment,” said Nathan Keane, President of the Montana Grain Growers Association. “Raising the business equipment tax exemption is a huge benefit to farmers.”

The group also raised concerns about federal overreach, including the Biden administration authorizing the American Prairie Reserve (APR) to graze bison on federal and state land and issuing a vague, burdensome Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

In December, Gov. Gianforte appealed a judge’s decision greenlighting the American Prairie Reserve to graze bison in northeast Montana, and in January, Gov. Gianforte urged the president to delay implementation of his WOTUS rule.

Dave Scott of the Montana Wool Growers Association also mentioned the state’s petition to delist the grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, citing the species’ delisting as a top priority for wool growers.

“I know you’ve had a big part in that, and we thank you for that. We need to keep pushing that ball forward,” Scott said.

Scott also noted the increase of meat processing capacity in the state.

“I can remember even three or four years ago there was nowhere to go to get your lamb processed,” Scott said. “In the last year or so, it’s tremendously improved.”

Last August, Gov. Gianforte announced that meat processed in facilities inspected by the Montana Department of Livestock had more than doubled in the last fiscal year.

During the roundtable, the governor also thanked the group for their input as the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation conducted a comprehensive review of water management and administration over the interim.

“You don’t get production without water, and we need to get these bills across the finish line,” Gov. Gianforte said, referring to HB 114 and SB 72 which are currently before the legislature.

Participants in today’s roundtable discussion included leaders from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Agricultural Business Association, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, the Montana Wool Growers Association, Montana Seed Trade Association, and the Montana Cattlemen’s Association, as well as the Montana Departments of Agriculture and Livestock.

The governor kicked off Montana Agriculture Week on Monday by celebrating Montana Meat Day, encouraging all Montanans to mark the day with some world-class beef, chicken, lamb, or pork from Montana ranchers.

Later that afternoon, the governor promoted Montana’s grain-to-glass brewery industry with a visit to the Missouri River Brewing Company.


Office of the Governor

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