Montana Farm Bureau Nicole Rolf Gives Exciting News For Montana Agriculture
National AG Week
We have been celebrating a lot of agriculture events this week in Helena with lots of events taking place throughout Helena and across the state. One of the fun things that we get to do every session is have a big lunch in the Rotunda together with other agriculture organizations. The Department of AG is the main host of it, and lots of their attached committees and boards and lots of organizations participate. So it's a great way to interact with the legislature and also interact with other agriculture organizations and just celebrate the good things that we do in this state with agriculture.
Governor Greg Gianforte
The Governor also hosted a roundtable where he invited a large variety of agriculture groups to come and visit with him and talk to him about what all is important to specific organizations or different committees. Our president, Cyndi Johnson, was able to participate in that, and it was a very good discussion, very diverse, because all the different committees and many different groups were represented there.
Million Dollar Moisture!
Senate Bill 295- Grizzly Bear
Senator Gillespie's Grizzly Bear management bill that has passed through the Senate and is now over on the House side. This is a bill that addresses how grizzly bears are managed and also talks about how the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will make plans and start preparing and be ready for full state management when the grizzly bear is finally delisted off of the endangered species list. It's a very good bill and very forward thinking. It's important because as the US Fish and Wildlife Service starts looking at delisting the species, they're going to be looking at the states and our laws that are in place and also rules that will manage the species to make sure that we are going to manage them. We have great confidence in the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and their ability to manage the species. This law is actually created largely in the same way as Senate Bill 200 was several sessions ago that manage the way we handle wolves when wolves were delisted. Lots of support from wide variety of advocates. There was opposition from some conservation groups or wildlife groups that have concerns that this is going to be basically open season on grizzly bears. I would push back against that and say that's not the case. We're still going to be managing the species to make sure that they do not have a situation where they have to be put back onto the list. We're going to manage them to continue conserving the species, but also give farmers and ranchers some tools to protect our livestock and also for all Montanans to be able to protect our human safety, which is a really important aspect that we can't forget in this conversation.
Karli Johnson- Choteau Rancher
On that same note, Karli Johnson, who's a rancher from Choteau is going to be testifying before the US House Natural Resource Committee on Thursday morning (3-23-2023) about grizzly bears. There is a bill in Congress that would delist the northern population of grizzly bears, which is right where Karli and her family ranch. She's got a great story to tell about all of the proactive work that they've been doing to protect themselves and protect their livestock against the species. But also, she can share how their hands are tied, when the species continues to be on the endangered species list. She's going to share about all of the good work that Montana is doing and how we are ready to manage the species.
We don't need federal oversight any longer and the population is recovered.
So we're very pleased that she will be representing Montana on a very important platform and we'll be able to convey her firsthand experience and expertise with members of Congress.
House Bill 2- Budget Bill
The budget process is very extensive. They start the session with a lot of legislators broken down into certain sections of the budget. They review every piece of the budget, are able to make changes, additions, deletions. They really dig into every agency's budget and look for ways to improve it or strengthen it in some way. Then when it all comes together, there's another review and then it finally moves on to the floor as a complete package. So that's known as House Bill two, and it is on the House floor today, which is Wednesday, March 22nd. A lot of the time, as we move through the session, the policy bills can tend to move pretty quickly, towards the end, if the budget isn't through its full vetting process and through its approval that can hold up the process. This is a little earlier than we saw it come out last session, so that in combination with the fact that there were close to 300 bills scheduled for hearing this week, which is pretty much double from our average earlier in the session. I think it really shows that the legislature is moving quickly in the second half and is determined to get through
GOD is an amazing artist!
Senate Bill 506- Endowment Bill
It was heard in Senate tax this week and it will make permanent the endowment tax credit. This is an important tax credit for many organizations and nonprofits because it really provides a very targeted and beneficial incentive for folks to give endowments to organizations. These endowments fund everything from scholarships to programing through youth programs, even community funds and lots of things that benefit all of us across the state. It's a provision that's been in law since the 90’s, but has had a six year sunset on it. So there's been several sessions where our organization and many others have supported the extension of that tax credit, and this bill will actually make it permanent. There were no opponents to the bill over the years, and there's also been many benefits to having it in place over the years. There's an effort now to make it permanent, remove the sunset and actually double the credit.
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