GREAT FALLS — United States Senator Steve Daines offered a roundtable discussion for agriculture industry leaders to express their suggestions and concerns for the upcoming Farm Bill debate.
“We've got a list of specific policy items that we want to make sure are included in the next Farm Bill. This is going to make the next farm bill much better than the last one,” said Senator Daines.
Torgerson’s LLC of Great Falls hosted the roundtable and it was all hands on deck from CEO, Brion Torgerson to gather input that's sent to Washington D.C.
Here is a roll call of who attended and who they represented:
- Steve Sheffels – Secretary, Montana Grain Growers Association
- Keith Horton – North American Commercial Manager, Sustainable Oils
- Rich Roth – North Central Board Member, Montana Stockgrowers Association
- Katelin Standley – North Central Montana Regional Agronomy Manager, Anheuser-Busch
“At the end of the day. The nation, our nation is only secure if it's able to feed itself. Food security is national security,” expressed Daines.
A significant point of contention from the panelists was WOTUS – “Waters of the United States.”
At the end of December 2022, the Army and the EPA issued a press release stating that the definitions of WOTUS would be up for revision. The 141-page revision proposal that provides regulatory measures for navigable waters in the United States. With Montana having an arid climate that has been ridden with drought within the last decade, Senator Daines has thoughts that this puts a tighter leash on Montana agriculture.
“This is the heavy hand of the federal government putting it around the necks of producers here in Montana that want to come in and regulate every dry ditch and puddle. It's ridiculous. It is a threat to our way of life here in Montana. It's a threat to our number one economic driver. It's agriculture. We've got to push back on this.”
Sustainable Oils was in attendance and as the Senator actively took notes throughout the discussion, Camelina's production caught his eye. Sustainable Oils has been doing extensive research in the renewable diesel area. Senator Daines found that when markets vary for cover crops adding one more tool to the box for producers to generate revenue is essential.
“Camelina is one more example of a crop like with South Pulse crops that came into Montana years ago. We're now among the top post-crop producers in the United States as rotation crops go. So, this is one more tool, for our farmers here in Montana. I think it's got a bright future.”
The discussion went further with all panelists bringing up other points of contention especially surrounding crop insurance. Cover crop farmers in Montana have been plagued with grasshoppers, drought, and everything in between. Coverage to protect an investment is vital to small and large operations' survival. In other reports from MTN News, at Senator Tester’s Farm Bill Tour, we spoke with producers who have shared that they have lost upwards of 95% of a crop to grasshoppers in bad years. Crop insurance only covered 75% of the lost crop. Some instances are more severe than others, but for producers who have felt strife with an ever-changing climate, not being able to feel confident in one’s crop insurance can cause mistrust in a system.
Rich Rother, a Board Member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association touched on inflated costs across the entire industry from fuel to parts for equipment. Inflation has been the talk of 2022 and into 2023, but Roth made a statement that taxes are still too high.
“It’s a disgrace to be taxed that much.”
It goes across the entire industry for hard-working agricultural producers who are plagued by misfortune year in and year out.
Other concerns of the Bureau of Land Management’s oversight of private lands and how it requires private landowners to manage access points for government officials. More importantly, those private landowners must control reservoirs and waterways that require more resources for a private owner to control.
Senator Daines interjected and finished his thoughts on the BLM, “…it will depend on the 2024 election. I’ll leave it at that.”
Lastly, Katelin Standley, a representative from Anheuser-Busch touched on marketing for United States agriculture. Each panelist, including the Senator, believes that agriculture is the lifeblood of a nation, but Standley believes marketing to buy USA-grown products should be implemented.
Brion Torgerson, CEO of Torgerson’s LLC rounded off the hour-long conversation by speaking on the values of the traditional Montana farmer. That the state's changing demographic has led to others not understanding the values of what it means to be a part of Montana agriculture.
“When we have people moving in Montana that know nothing about AG. They're coming here for our values, but they don't know where our values were born, and they were born in AG. The more that we can come together, get our voice out there, and help the general public understand who we are and what we do as a collective group, I think that's important.”
Senator Daines seconded that statement saying, “…There's a lack of common sense in Washington. You hear common sense when we spend time in a roundtable as we did here in Great Falls today.”
The upcoming Farm Bill debate won’t begin until the latter half of 2023.
To view the revised proposal on WOTUS – “Waters of the United States”, click here.
To read more on Sustainable Oils work on Camelina production, click here.
For more resources on the topics discussed visit the links below:
Bureau of Land Management - https://www.blm.gov/
USDA FSA Aid Homepage - https://www.fsa.usda.gov/
NRCS USDA Homepage - https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/
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