Ranchers Meet in Billings for 131st Stock-growers Convention
The 131st Montana Stock-growers Association Annual Convention and Trade Show, held Dec. 3-5 at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, drew strong crowds from ranching communities across the state.
The three-day convention featured several speakers to help ranchers learn about innovative tools and technologies available in the industry. Highlights also included nightly NFR viewing and Calcutta auction, live music from Exit 53 and Crazy Mountain Express, over $100,000 in prizes awarded and a trade show with more than 100 exhibitors representing many services across the ranching industry.
Former Navy SEAL and Butte Native, Robert O’Neill highlighted Friday’s Northern Ag Network Lunch, sharing his experience from overseas deployments and lessons of leadership ranchers can utilize in their own businesses. Congressman Ryan Zinke was on hand to address the packed house and to introduce O’Neill.
During Opening General Session, ranchers learned more about protein’s role in global food security from Grady Bishop, Senior Director with Elanco Animal Health. Bishop encouraged ranchers to be more involved in online conversations about our food supply today.
Members had the opportunity to discuss and vote on resolutions that guide policy activity for the Stock-growers Association leading into the 2015 legislative session. Important topics of discussion included Country of Origin Labeling, wildlife and disease management, water law and tax policies.
Convention coverage, photos, videos and information about membership programs can be found on the Montana Stock-growers Association Facebook page or website, mtbeef.org. Be sure to join MSGA for their 2016 Mid-Year meeting, June 9-11 in Great Falls.
The following are highlights in recognitions and awards during the Convention:
Elections were held to fill positions on the Board of Directors due to expiring terms. Charlie Rein of Big Timber was elected to represent South Central ranchers. Kim Peterson of Havre was elected to represent North Central ranchers. Jess Drange of Ismay was elected to represent Southeastern ranchers. Jack Holden of Valier and Wayne Slaght of Ovando were reelected to serve a second term. Outgoing Board members include Jed Evjene of Two Dot representing the South Central district and Leon LaSalle of Havre representing the North Central district.
Lacey Ehlke of Townsend was elected as Chair of the Young Stock-growers committee. She fills the position previously held by Travis Brown of Sand Springs. Tyrel Obrecht of Lewistown was elected as Vice-Chair. Ehlke and Obrecht will represent the Young Stock-growers on the MSGA Board of Directors.
The 2015 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP) was presented to Lon and Vicki Reukauf of Cherry Creek Ranch. The ranch is a commercial cow/calf operation near Town, which exemplifies the qualities of ranchers focused on environmental stewardship, sustainability and conservation. As Montana ESAP winners, Cherry Creek Ranch will compete at the regional level for the national ESAP recognition.
Lila Taylor was recognized as the Ranching Woman of the Year. Lila and her husband, Watty, operate their cow-calf ranch near Kirby. All three of their sons and their spouses, Kirby and Misty, Jay and Cherie, and Peter and Amanda, are involved in ranching in Montana. Alongside her accomplishments as a ranching woman, Lila has been active in leadership roles in the state and her community. Lila has served in the Montana Legislature, on the Board of Public Education, and currently serves on the Montana Board of Livestock, St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors along with numerous other accolades.
12 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 covered included cattle marketing, estate planning, nutrition, reproduction and cattle health.
Montana Ford Stores continued their sponsorship for the seventh year to give one lucky MSGA member a 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup. This year’s winner was Ed Lord. Ed and his wife, Connie, ranch at their ranch near Philipsburg.
For the second year, Montana Massey Ferguson dealers donated a tractor lease, which was raffled on Saturday evening. Fred Wacker of Miles City won the 8-month/200-hour lease on the 130-hp tractor and loader. NutraLix donated a saddle, which went to Lon Reukauf of Terry.
Top Hand Club recognitions were awarded to the North Central Montana Stock-growers from Havre, which received a John Deere Gator from Frontline Ag Solutions, and Leon LaSalle of Havre, who received a trip to San Diego, California for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention.
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, as well as Attorney General Tim Fox were on hand to provide updates and insight on current events.
The Montana Stock-growers Association meets annually to discuss and vote on policy measures, which guide the Association in representing its members on local, state and federal issues. MSGA’s 2016 Mid-Year membership meeting will take place June 9-11 in Great Falls. To learn more about Stock-growers programs or membership, visit mtbeef.org or contact the office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.