Montana Stockgrowers Association Meets in Billings for Annual Convention

November 16, 2021

The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s (MSGA) Annual Convention is underway in Billings. And this week MSGA members from across Big Sky Country are discussing important issues, setting policy for coming year, taking in the trade show and networking with other cattle producers.

John Grande is the MSGA First Vice President from Martinsdale and says two of the biggest issues impacting cattle producers here of late are packer capacity and market transparency.

"Obviously, that's been big this whole last year," said Grande. "At the local level, it's huge. We've had lots of money available on the state level and federal funding available to increase parking capacity in Montana. We've had a lot of these smaller plants that are upping their capacity. We have one fairly major new plant that's up and running and another possibility on the drawing board. So, that's going on a national level. Lots and lots of capacity on the drawing board. We'll see how much of it actually gets built up, but some of it definitely will, and that can be a game changer."

He says the whole idea is to decrease the market discrepancy between what ranchers like him receive on sale day and what consumers are having to pay at the meat case.

"There's some pretty simple math there," said Grande. "So, when we have more cattle to sell than what the packers can harvest in a five day workweek, the market goes down. When the packers need to go out and chase cattle to keep their lines running, the market goes up. Hopefully, it seems like we're in that transition. We harvested a lot of cattle last week with an increase in prices, so that's moving in the right direction. But more capacity is key."

Predator control is also a top priority of the MSGA and its membership, he says. Especially with the increase in grizzly bear numbers in the Greater Yellowstone Area which includes Montana.

"Well, it really is because it's a recovered species, and there's no reason why it should continue to be on the endangered species list," said Grande. "The previous administration tried to delist the grizzly and now with with lawsuits it's still endangered and we still have to work with that. We had some good ideas at how to manage the grizzly better, but that's mostly been looked at in these recovery zones along the front and closer to Yellowstone Park. And meanwhile, the bears are moving all over the state. We're all going to have them. Right now, Fish, Wildlife and Parks has a comment period open about relocating problem grizzlies. That's a real issue. And people should go online and comment if they get the chance because where we relocate these bears to is critical."

Source: Montana Ag Network & Western Ag Network