By Rachel Cone and Nicole Rolf, Montana Farm Bureau Federation

The 2023 Montana Legislative Session is picking up momentum. Along with advocating on over a dozen bills, we celebrated National Ag Week here in Helena and had the opportunity to teach the 2023 ACE participants about the Montana Legislature.

The 2021 Legislature provided incentives for employers to invest in their employees through the Montana Trades, Education and Training Tax Credit (M-TEC). This tax credit covers 50% of education and training expenses for an employer of an eligible trade and can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment. HB 245 Revise tax credit for trades education and training sponsored by Sue Vinton (R) HD 56 builds on the success of M-TEC by expanding to more trades such as agricultural, mining, food manufacturing and several other trades. We believe this expansion of the eligible trade professions is critical for Montana agriculture by providing farms and ranchers a great incentive to provide training and education to agricultural workers.

We also supported SJ 14 Resolution opposing bison introduction at Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge sponsored by Mike Lang (R) SD 17 which would state the Montana Legislature’s opposition to bison being introduced to the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge (CMR). The CMR spans nearly 1 million acres in land from six Montana counties and is surrounded by private property, BLM land and state land trust. Introduction of bison to the CMR is risky without a detailed plan and would have a direct impact on CMR’s rangeland and would increase the risk of transmission of disease between bison, wildlife and livestock. We also advocated for HJ 11 Joint resolution relating to Environmental, Social, and Governmental regulation sponsored by Steve Gist (R) HD 25 to urge Congress to push back on environmental social governance (ESG) polices for credit scores. ESGs provide a framework for stakeholders to understand how an organization is managing risks related to environmental, social and governance factors. Using non-financial factors such as ESGs, which have no domestic or global standard, to evaluate investment opportunities can have a negative impact on our free-market system due to their subjective nature and can vary in every situation.

Front Range County Farm Bureau member and Choteau rancher, Karli Johnson, traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Karli testified in regard to HR. 1419 to direct the Secretary of the Interior to issue a new rule removing the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population of grizzly bears from the Federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife sponsored by Rep. Matt Rosendale (R). In her written testimony, the owner of Sevens Livestock explained how their ranch has had to change their livestock management strategies including changing to flood irrigation, changing their heifer calving date, not raising sheep, erecting a Grizzly Bear fence at more than $6,000 out-of-pocket and being extremely cautious when spraying noxious weeds and fixing fence.


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