Montana Stockgrowers Association Convention brings ranchers to Billings | TSLN.com

Montana Stockgrowers Association Convention brings ranchers to Billings

The 130th Montana Stockgrowers Association Convention and Trade Show, held at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings, December 11-13, drew strong crowds from ranching communities across the state.

The three-day convention featured a large number of speakers to help ranchers learn more about available management tools, as well as outlook on the current status of cattle markets, industry trends, environmental and wildlife issues. Governor Steve Bullock highlighted Opening General Session with a supportive message for Montana's ranching communities. Members had the opportunity to discuss and vote on resolutions that guide policy activity for the association leading into the 2015 legislative session.

Saturday's Grand Finale Banquet featured almost $100,000 in prizes thanks to generous sponsors and included live music from Wylie and the Wild West. The annual Cattle Directory auction raised record amounts thanks to strong support from seedstock, commercial and industry partners.

Convention coverage, photos, videos and information about membership programs can be found on the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook page or website, mtbeef.org. Be sure to join MSGA for their Mid-Year event, held in Bozeman in early June.

Following are highlights:

Elections were held to fill positions on the Board of Directors due to expiring terms. Gene Curry of Valier was elected as President and Bryan Mussard as first Vice President. Fred Wacker of Miles City was elected to the position of second Vice President and Jess Drange of Ismay will fill his position as Director representing Southeastern Montana. Race King of Dillon was elected to represent the Western District. Outgoing Board members include President Tucker Hughes of Stanford and Western District representative Ray Marxer of Twin Bridges.

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Travis Brown of Sand Springs was elected as Chairman of the Young Stockgrowers committee. He fills the position previously held by Lacey Sutherlin of Stevensville. Lacey Ehlke of Townsend was elected as Vice-Chair. Brown and Ehlke will represent the Young Stockgrowers on the MSGA Board of Directors.

The 2014 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP) was presented to Jed and Annie Evjene of the American Fork Ranch. The American Fork is a commercial cow/calf operation near Two Dot, that exemplifies environmental stewardship, sustainability and conservation. As Montana ESAP winners, the American Fork will compete at the regional level for the national ESAP recognition.

Bev Fryer of White Sulfur Springs was recognized as the Ranching Woman of the Year. Fryer and her husband, Ed, raise cattle at the Castle Mountain Ranch, where Bev takes charge of calving more than 300 heifers each spring and training horses, alongside raising a family. Bev is active in area youth and CattleWomen's activities, ranch rodeos, and guides hunters looking for elk each year.

16 Cattlemen's College workshops offered attendees several great opportunities for interactive learning about the tools available to improve management and record keeping on their ranches. Topics included cattle marketing, estate planning, nutrition, reproduction, cattle health, and leadership training.

Montana Ford Stores continued their sponsorship for the sixth year to give one lucky MSGA member a 2014 Ford Super Duty pickup. This year's winner was Paula Bischoff. Paula and her husband, Gary, ranch at the 99 Bar Cattle Company near Alzada.

Montana Massey Ferguson dealers donated a tractor lease, which was raffled on Saturday evening. Tom and Lilian Ostendorf of Powderville won the 8-month/200-hour lease on the 130-hp tractor and loader. NutraLix donated a saddle, which went to Sam Obrecht of Turner.

Top Hand recognitions were awarded to Southeastern Montana Livestock Association from Miles City, which received a John Deere Gator from Frontline Ag, and Kyle Middlemist of Dixon, who received a paid trip to San Antonio, Texas for the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention.

Attendees received encouraging and informative messages from many speakers throughout the 3-day convention. Governor Steve Bullock addressed the crowd during Friday's Opening General Session and was very encouraging about supporting Montana's ranching industry, natural resources and continued opportunities for trade and marketing of cattle and beef products. Greg Hanes, Assistant Vice President of International Marketing with U.S. Meat Export Federation, provided attendees with a great overview of international marketing opportunities for U.S. beef and insight on how Checkoff dollars contribute to promotion in those markets. Lois Olmstead gave attendees encouragement and motivation during Saturday's Inspirational breakfast.

Policy meetings offered opportunity for attendees to hear updates on several issues affecting ranches, environmental and agricultural policy issues in the state. Representatives from Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Department of Livestock, Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association were on hand to provide updates and insight on current events. Topics of high interest included sage grouse, CSKT Water Compact, Department of Livestock, markets and animal health.

–Montana Stockgrowers Association