Mont. Farm Bureau members celebrate Ag Week
March 20, 2015
More than 40 Montana Farm Bureau members descended on Helena for the MFBF Counties Calling on the Capitol March 17-19. The group had the opportunity to visit with Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, as well as with officials at the Montana State Fund, the Montana Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources. They celebrated Ag Day by co-hosting lunch with other agricultural organizations featuring Montana products on March 18. The MFBF Women's Leadership Committee served breakfast to legislators March 19 in the Capitol Rotunda.
During their visit with the governor, they discussed the Montana Sage Grouse Management Plan, the CSKT water compact, the Montana budget including the Department of Livestock, and free-roaming bison. The visit with the Stand Fund covered information on how the State Fund works and how agricultural safety training can save money as well as lives.
Attorney General Fox addressed the group regarding his opposition to the controversial Environmental Protection Association (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. "I just presented testimony during a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. about WOTUS and EPA's overreach. WOTUS is not just a clarification of the law, it's a takeover of our state's citizens' rights of their water," Fox said. "When it comes to agriculture, I will be there for you when it counts."
This was the first time Lorena Erickson, Ravalli County Farm Bureau, and Lisa McFarland, Yellowstone County Farm Bureau, had attended a Calling on the Capitol.
"This meeting provided me with a better understanding of the CSKT water compact," noted Erikson. "That issue is a huge concern for our area. In addition, I thought our visit with the governor went well, and I certainly enjoyed becoming better acquainted with our Farm Bureau leaders."
McFarland found the House and Senate Floor Sessions interesting. "It was fascinating to watch the process of legislators on the Floor voting," said McFarland, president of the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau. "It was great that we had several opportunities to visit with many of our local legislators. You don't always have a good opportunity to do that. They weren't in a hurry and were happy to talk about the issues." McFarland was joined by her daughter, Kamydn, a first-grade student, who especially liked the Ag Week activities and lunch at the Montana Historical Society.
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This was Darcia Patten's second time at the Legislature this year. She attended the MFBF Council of Presidents in February. "I believe too many people take what farmers and ranchers do for granted. I'm proud of what we do in agriculture, and I believe it's very important our lawmakers hear directly from us," said Patten, president of the Powder River/Carter County Farm Bureau. "At our Calling on the Capitol, I believe they heard what we wanted them to hear. Meeting your legislators in Helena makes you think harder when going to the polling booth."
Patten praised Farm Bureau for providing this experience for members. "You need a voice in the Legislature, and Farm Bureau provides a great way to have that voice. Farm Bureau opens doors."
Lillian Ostendorf, a Custer/Fallon County Farm Bureau member as well as the western representative for the American Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee, echoed Patten's sentiments. "Even if it's difficult to get away from your ranch, it's so valuable to come up to the Legislature. What we do in agriculture affects everyone. This is a great way to address lawmakers across the state, let them know we appreciate what they do and educate them about agricultural issues."