Mountain States Legal Foundation General Counsel William E. Trachman  cheered a federal judge’s order halting the Department of Agriculture from proceeding with a post-pandemic farm loan relief program that expressly excludes white farmers and ranchers. MSLF and the Southeastern Legal Foundation challenged the constitutionality of race-based loan relief on equal protection grounds, on behalf of Tennessee farmer Rob Holman and Wyoming rancher Leisl Carpenter. One of those suits, Holman v. Vilsack, bore fruit today when U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson, of the Western District of Tennessee, granted our request for a nationwide halt to the program pending further judicial review.
Trachman issued the following statement in response to the win:  
“What’s it going to take for the Biden-Harris Administration to comply with the Constitution. Now that their discriminatory farming and ranch debt relief has been enjoined by another court as a violation of the equal protection clause, the writing is on the wall. It’s time to treat all of us like Americans, regardless of our skin color.The pandemic didn’t discriminate when it hurt farmers and ranchers last year, and the government shouldn’t discriminate now. Racial segregation was wrong before, it’s wrong now, and will be wrong forever.” 

The Billings City Council has approved placing a $7.1 million mill levy on the November 2 ballot for public safety. A study has found that public safety is a high priority of citizens, concerned about the increase in crime in Billings.
If it passes the increase in mills will be part of a $434 million budget that was also passed by the Billings City Council. The city’s budget has been bolstered this year by COVID relief funds which allocated money to specific needs that then freed up funds for other needs. The budget includes $11.6 million to purchase the Stillwater Building, as well as $80 million for a new westend water treatment plant and $18 million to construct the Inner Belt Loop and Skyline Trail, and an additional $7 million for the airport expansion.
An increase in the public safety funds will allow an additional $800,000 for the police department, in addition to more funding for enforcement of the recently rewritten building codes, the court system with the development of a law and justice center, and more services for mental health and substance abuse. It will also help fund a new division of the fire department that will be dedicated to responding to Emergency Medical Service calls.
If voters approve the proposed 34 mill increase it will add about $100 a year in property taxes on a $200,000 home in Billings.

From the Northern Ag Network

The Bureau of Land Management has released a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for a bison grazing proposal from the American Prairie Reserve on 69,000 acres of BLM grazing allotments in Phillips County.
In November of 2017, the APR submitted a proposal to modify terms and conditions of 18 BLM administered permits, which was revised to 7 grazing permits in September of 2019. APR requested from BLM a change in class of livestock for cattle and bison, changes to the authorized seasons-of-use, construction, reconstruction and/or removal of some fences and adjustments to allotments (such as combining pastures).
In the spring of 2018, the BLM conducted public scoping which included meetings in Northcentral Montana. The BLM received 2,497 submissions which they reviewed and considered in determine the issues to be included in the NEPA analysis.
Now the BLM has come back with their analysis of the proposed action and has found that it conforms with their Resource Management Plans. The bureau has determined the changes will not significantly affect the land, wildlife or human environment.
Jay Bodner, Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association told Northern Ag Network that the announcement of this decision raises a lot of concerns from the livestock industry.
“Certainly, from a resource management standpoint, which we take a lot of pride in our stewardship of our rangelands, we’ve moved away from these kind of grazing practices,” Bodner says. “It seems to be moving our grazing systems back 30 years. So, there’s a lot of concern from just the rangeland health standards.”
“Secondly, it looks like if a livestock producer would have made this proposal, I’m not sure if it would have been met with the same kind of decision that this one is dealing with bison.”
Bodner adds that in previous documents that the BLM had released, they had recognized that with year-round grazing and removal of interior fencing there was a high likelihood of resource damage in those riparian areas. However, in this assessment BLM found no significant impacts.
“One of the challenges we see with this proposal,” Bodner says. “is that if you remove a lot of that infrastructure, to be able to address any kind of resource damage, you basically have to rebuild fence to try to move animals around. So that’s going to create a lot of challenges to address any potential challenges that may arise.”
This has been a controversial topic for 4 years now and Bodner says the MSGA membership will be engaging in the discussion and making public comments.
Sidney, MT rancher and President of the Montana Stockgrowers Jim Steinbeisser commented that, “Our organization has consistently provided comments outlining concerns regarding the impacts a request like this can have on rangeland health, riparian areas and economic impacts to the livestock industry. Today’s release of the draft EA and Finding of No Significant Impact is very impactful to ranchers across the state. This assessment may have a much larger ripple effect moving forward on setting precedent for public land grazing permits.”
“The fences represent a significant monetary investment in improvements, and if this change in grazing management proceeds, BLM must analyze what steps will be taken to address any resource damage”,” continued Steinbeisser. “We feel many of the request changes in the draft have significant resource impacts and have not been fully vetted or analyzed by the BLM.”
Before the Environmental Assessment can be finalized the BLM will conduct a public comment period running from July 1st through August 29th. Comments can be submitted online and a virtual public meeting is planned for Wednesday, July 21 from 1-4pm.
The public may comment on the Draft EA and FONSI by visiting the BLM’s ePlanning website at https://eplanning.blm.gov. Search using the NEPA number: DOI-BLM-MT-L010-2018-0007-EA. Public comments may also be submitted via the U.S. Postal Service addressed to: BLM Malta Field Office; Re: APR Grazing Proposal; 501 South 2nd Street East; Malta, MT 59538.

Presbytery Of Y’stone Of The U/Perfect 10, 180 24th St W, Roofing, $42,500
Tobacco Row Of Billings LLC/Kohlman Construction, 655 Main St, Roofing, $9,700
School District 2/Empire Roofing Inc, 82 N 31st St, Roofing, $260,000
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 850 Daytona Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $625,536
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 882 Daytona Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family, $625,536
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 889 Miami Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $625,536
Billings Sapphire LLC ABCO Billings LLC, 859 Miami Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $417,024
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 879 Miami Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $417,024
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 849 Miami Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $428,7680
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 860 Miami Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family, )$392,610
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4113 Palm Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,610
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4104 Palm Beach Way, New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,610
Fagg Family Properties LLC/Jones Construction, Inc, 222 N 32nd St, $65,000
Shiloh Silver Partners/Saunders Construction Inc., 1027 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Remodel, $250,000
Alice Parker/Morgan Contractors Inc, 3839 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $10,000
Shiloh Silver Screen Partners/Jones Construction, Inc, 1027 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Remodel, $100,000

Residential

Ouzts, Samuel & Kara, 3010 Colton Blvd, Res New Accessory Structure, $8,000
L & L Construction LLC/Lorenz Construction, 3436 Tahoe Dr, Res New Single Family, $257,346
Diverse Construction/Diverse Construction LLC, 2236 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family, $159,432
Mark Dawson/CDH, LLC, 4030 Hyalite Ct, Res New Single Family, $228,123
CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5332 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $333,126
HG Design/HG Designs, 1918 W Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $306,580
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6108 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family, $367,138
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1808 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $253,792
Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc., 2903 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Townhome, $0.00
Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc.2903 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Townhome, $0.00
John Scott/Kay Homebuilders LLC, 4140 Cambridge Dr, Res New Accessory Structure, $30,000
Harwood, Althea, 2135 Windsor Cir N, Res New Accessory Structure, $1,500
Sorenson, Joan F/Ty Nelson Design And Remodel, 4555 Upland Dr, Res New Accessory Structure, $100,000
High Sierra Ii Inc/Infinity Home LLC, 2430 Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $264,184
Rimrock Builders/Rimrock Builders Inc, 2501 Blue Mountain Trl, Res New Single Family, $400,530
Tri B Property Solutions LLC/Kutil Inc, 863 Tierra Dr, Res New Single Family, $375,000
Square Butte Builders/Square Butte Builders LLC, 705 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family $290,000
Boyer Land LLC, 2524 Aspen Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $302,269
Boyer Land LLC/Design Builders, Inc., 2517 Blue Mountain Trl, Res New Single Family, $323,554
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1860 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $141,098

From Northern Ag Network

Beef imports were up 1.5 percent year over year in April but are down 7.0 percent for the January to April period compared to last year.  Year to date beef imports are down 4.0 percent compared to the same period in 2019. U.S. beef imports are projected to decrease in 2021 by 10-13 percent year over year, which will put total beef imports below the 2015 – 2019 average.
In the 2015-2019 period, Australia was the largest source of beef imports, followed by Canada, with New Zealand at number three and Mexico ranked fifth.  Brazil, Nicaragua and Uruguay round out the top seven sources of beef imports.  From 2015-2019, the top seven countries accounted for 98.7 percent of beef imports with the top four accounting for 85.5 percent of total beef imports.  In 2020, beef imports spiked to the highest level since 2015 due the supply chain disruptions resulting from the pandemic.
Thus far in 2021, Canada has been the largest source of beef imports and is up 17.0 percent year over year.  Mexico is the number two source of beef imports for the year to date with imports down 6.0 percent compared to last year.  New Zealand is the third largest source of beef imports in 2021, down 9.9 percent year over year.  Australia is currently the fourth largest source of beef imports, down 48.1 percent from last year.  Australia is experiencing reduced production due to herd liquidation in previous years resulting from drought, wildfires and floods.  Australia is now attempting to rebuild herds, which further reduces beef production and exports in the short run.
Argentina does not make the list of major sources of U.S. beef imports but the country has rebounded sharply in recent years as a beef exporting country.  U.S. imports of beef from Argentina in 2020 were the highest since 2007 but represented less than two percent of total U.S. beef imports.  Recently, the government of Argentina announced a 30 day ban on beef exports from the country, which has disrupted the rebuilding of beef exports from the country and is indicative of the challenges faced by the Argentinian beef industry in recent years.
Global beef trade continues to grow.  Total beef imports by major world importers is expected to increase in 2021 along with increases in total beef exports by major world exporters.  U.S. beef exports and imports take place in the context of a much larger and growing global beef market.

After 100 years serving the families and businesses of North Dakota and Montana with a full range of banking, trust, investment and insurance services, Beartooth Bank, a division of American Bank Center, is changing its name to Bravera Bank. The new name, along with a new logo, tagline and visual identity, will launch this Fall. The change in brand does not reflect a change in ownership, as Bravera Bank is still employee- and director-owned.   
In recent years, American Bank Center has grown, expanding its network of branches across North Dakota and Montana. Its growth represents a continued investment in the region’s strong future, competitively positioning the bank to serve customers with more resources, a greater geographic reach and a broader promise to new people moving into the area. The new name unifies the current network and creates a consistent banking experience all under one brand: Bravera Bank.
“We are so proud to unite our banks under a new name and brand experience that reflects our bank’s strong future,” says Cill Skabo, American’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Bravera is a distinct and unforgettable name that captures our spirit and helps us stand out and connect with our customers and communities.”
The word Bravera combines “Bravery” and “Truth” for a new name with strong ties to the pioneer spirit and honest values that define the northern plains. The new name will be accompanied by a new logo, look and feel that will touch every part of the bank’s experience, from signage in the branches and the bank’s website to brand communications and advertising.
“The move to the Bravera Bank name is exciting and delivers on our mission of embodying a financial institution that supports the growth of the region’s future. From Bismarck to Billings, Dickinson to Devils Lake, we see tremendous opportunity in helping our customers forge success, under a single, powerful brand name,” says David Ehlis, American Bancor President and CEO.

Yellowstone County News reports that the weekly newspaper bought home three awards from the Montana Newspaper Association’s annual convention, including an award for Evelyn Pyburn, who won first place as “Best Editorial.” The Yellowstone County News moved into a different category of newspapers throughout the state because of an increase in its circulation.
Comments from the judges in the contest wrote about Evelyn Pyburn’s editorial writing skills, “Evelyn Pyburn contrasts the calm of local government in her community with what’s happening for much of the nation. Crisp, easy-to-read writing. Pride in her community is strong.”
In its other awards, Yellowstone County News’ Production Specialist and Graphic Artist Elisa Schlosser was recognized for her skills in the category of Best Ad to Sell and Promote Services.
YCN Submitted a portrait photo from the Carol William’s funeral and gathering where many of the participants were reading the YCN newspaper resulting in a third-place award.
Yellowstone County News was also recognized at the MNA Awards banquet for selling the most statewide Display Ads (out of 63 newspapers) throughout 2020 – the fifth year in a row that YCN has won this award.
Publisher Jonathan McNiven stated, “Our newspaper continues to be recognized for all the hard work that is being put towards making our newspaper the best we can and it shows with the new recognition of these new awards for our staff. Many thanks go out to our great staff who deserve the recognition for all they do to make our hyper-local newspaper a success. I look forward to the day when our newspaper is recognized as the best weekly newspaper in the state. In the meantime, we will focus on the little wins we receive each year.”

A proposed new industrial park at Fort Benton has been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the federal government to provide transportation, water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. The grant is expected to be matched with $1.7 million in local funds, according to an announcement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The project is projected to create 75 jobs and generate $12 million in private investment.
Raimondo said the expenditure of federal funds “will provide critical infrastructure for a new 105-acre industrial park that will support the growth of the local agricultural industry and diversify the regional economy.”
Governor Greg Gianforte said, “Through infrastructure improvements like these, Fort Benton and Chouteau County will boost their thriving agricultural community and attract businesses to locate, bringing more good-paying Montana jobs to the area.”
This project is being proposed by the Bear Paw Economic Development District (EDD).

Most of media is remaining silent on a huge movement sweeping the country regarding gun rights.
States are not only passing strong “Constitutional Carry” laws, but 61 percent of counties are now “Second Amendment sanctuaries”, according to a report in The Epoch Times.
As of June 20, there were 1,930 counties “protected by Second Amendment Sanctuary legislation at either the state or county level.” The count does not include specific cities, townships, boroughs, etc. that has taken action at the local level.
The movement is a grassroots movement from the bottom-up, according to a website called Sanctuary Counties, which notes that becoming a sanctuary county is different from passing Constitutional Carry laws which many states have done, and which has had more media attention. Sanctuary counties or other communities vow not to enforce “new / unconstitutional gun laws.”
Constitutional carry means laws are in place that allow citizen’s to carry a weapon without a permit. Some states have enacted both approaches in support of the Second Amendment which asserts, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
Democrats and gun-control organizations usually oppose such legislation, saying it will increase the number of mass shootings and criminal use of firearms.

Commercial
City Of Billings (Airport)/Elcon Corporation, 1901 Terminal Cir, Installation Of Three Electric Car Chargers At The Airport, Com Addition, $50,000
1943 Main Street LLC/Adan’s Construction LLC, 1943 Main St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $31,000
J E M LLC/Adan’s Construction LLC, 4005 1st Ave S, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $67,000
Van Binsbergen, Greg & Carla/Jones Construction, Inc, 1411 38th St W, Com Footing/Foundation, $110,000
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 864 Daytona Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $417,024
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 869 Miami Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $417,024
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 874 Daytona Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $312,768
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 863 Daytona Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,768
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4102 Cocoa Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,610
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4110 Cocoa Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,610
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4112 Palm Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $240,000
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4111 Cocoa Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,610
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4103 Cocoa Beach Way, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $392,610
NA/McCall Development, 1624 St George Blvd, Com New Townhome Shell, $584,064
Wal-Mart Real Estate Business/Pettus Plumbing And Piping Inc, 2525 King Ave W, Com Remodel, $402,000
Daleco LLC/Chinook Billings, 1503 13th St W, Com Remodel, $10,000
Thomas & Tate Holdings LLC/Empire Roofing Inc, 1145 Central Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $19,000
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1687 St George Blvd, Com New Other, $490,234
McCall Development/ McCall Development, 6165 Farmstead Ave, Com New Townhome Shell, $467,252
Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc., 6440 Signal Peak Ave, Com New Townhome Shell, $305,827
Jacquelyn Hughes/B & W Builders, 1690 Rimrock Rd, Com Remodel, $67,500

Residential

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1695 St George Blvd, Res New Accessory Structure, $40,000
McCall Homes/McCall Development,1687 St George Blvd, Res New Accessory Structure, $40,000
Robert Lively ,6309 Ridge Stone Dr S, Res New Single Family, $300,000
Tri B Property Solutions LLC/Kutil Inc, 975 Siesta Ave, Res New Single Family, $252,737
Diverse Construction/ Diverse Construction LLC, 487 Winged Foot Dr, Res New Single Family, $301,545
Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4714 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $271,962
Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4717 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $295,800
Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4639 Elk Ridge Trl, Res New Single Family, $324,498
Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 402 Montecito Ave, Res New Single Family, $432,000
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1757 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $139,936
Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 3026 Forbes Blvd, Res New Single Family, $403,000
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1751 St George Blvd Res New Single Family $140,798
NA/McCall Development, 51624 St George Blvd, Res New Townhome, $58,407
NA/McCall Development, 61624 St George Blvd, Res New Townhome, $58,407
NA/McCall Development, 71624 St George Blvd, Res New Townhome, $58,407
NA/McCall Development, 81624 St George Blvd, Res New Townhome, $58,407
Billings Sapphire LLC/ABCO Billings LLC, 4107 Palm Beach Way, Res New Two Family, $261,740
Carroll, Nicholas R & Morgan A/Miner Construction Inc, 4403 Jansma Ave, Res New Accessory Structure, $41,472
Infinity Home/ Infinity Home LLC, 1031 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $226,848
Infinity Home/ Infinity Home LLC, 7014 Shiny Penny Way, Res New Single Family, $282,384
South Pine Design / South Pine Design, 2252 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family, $301,314
Lorenz Construction LLC Lorenz Construction, 1310 Jean Ave, Res New Single Family, $216,223
CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5426 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $316,471
Emineth Custom Homes Inc Emineth Custom Homes, 4214 Woodgrove Dr, Res New Single Family $381,899
Legacy LLC/CDH, LLCs, 710 52nd St W, Res New Single Family, $224,586
CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5215 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $315,045
CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5301 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $276,921
Kercher, Elissa R Perchall LLC, 4313 Smohawk Trl, Res New Single Family, $367,365
Design Builders Design Builders, Inc., 2518 Blue Mountain Trl Res New Single Family, $294,582
Kienitz, Timothy & Lisa Wells Built Inc., 6116 Autumnwood Dr, Res New Townhome, $385,618
McCall Development McCall Development, 16165 Farmstead Ave Res New Townhome, $58,407
McCall Development McCall Development, 26165 Farmstead Ave, Res New Single Family, $58,407
McCall Development McCall Development, 36165 Farmstead Ave, Res New Townhome, $58,407
McCall Development McCall Development, 46165 Farmstead Ave, $58,407
Magnus Land Development LLC, 6440Signal Peak Ave, Res New Townhome, $38,228
Magnus Land Development LLC, 6440 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Townhome, $38,228
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1687 St George Blvd, Res New Townhome, $61,280
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1687 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $61,280
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1687 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $61,280
McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1687 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $61,280