Fall is the time each year that we gather in our various groups and organizations to discuss what we have accomplished over the past year and our goals for the year ahead.  November 14th – 17th the MT Farm Bureau Federation will get together in Missoula to do just that.  I spoke with Alena Standley, Western Montana Regional Manager about this year’s convention.  Here is an excerpt of the interview:


Randy:  Why is the convention in Missoula this year?

Alena: The board gets to decide, and we just thought maybe to mix it up this year. We've already contracted to go back to Billings next year, but I'm excited to see how it goes in Missoula. One really fun thing is we get to have the cattle show back in Missoula, and for anyone that drives down North Reserve Street, if you've got pens of cattle on the side, that's pretty exciting. So, I'm excited to be back there because we get to put agriculture front and center in a very busy spot and in a part of the world that maybe doesn't see that every day. So that's one really cool opportunity of being in that part of the world.

Randy: What are some of the things we can expect at the convention?

Alena: We always try to see how we going to meet the member’s needs, really, how are we going to engage them, what's going to attract them. And so, speakers are always a big deal. We try to bring in some really great speakers, one on advocacy. How do you tell your story about agriculture and why it's important to you? Leadership is huge with Farm Bureau and in fact, I always say our best and brightest leaders come to the convention, so we need to serve them and also build them up as better leaders. And then just to showcase some of the folks in the industry that are doing a fantastic job. So, one of the guys I'm really excited about is Jordan Levy, and he is an expert on cattle feeding and cattle management. And he comes from that big area in Colorado where there's a lot of cattle on feed. So, what an opportunity to talk to someone that knows the business, the ins and outs, and is willing to have a conversation in fact, his presentation is called Bringing Feeders and Producers to the Table. Let's talk about what we think the future looks like.

Randy: Policy is something you guys will talk about and you will come up with some things that you take to the American Farm Bureau. Touch on that, if you would.

Alena: So, we just got done with our Annual County meetings. Every county Farm Bureau in the state had a meeting. And a huge part of that is to discuss policy. It has to come from the grassroots county level for it to be discussed at the state convention. I love that part of Farm Bureau. I like that it's kind of a sacred part of how we do things. It's never top down, it's bottom up. So, lots of issues. Water is going to be big again. I don't know if there's ever a year that it isn’t. We're looking at Waters of the US coming back to the table. Exempt wells are still a discussion. There's so many things going on right now. Just stateside. Those will need to be discussed and our members need to decide what is Farm Bureau's policy, because then when it comes up in the legislature, which we're confident it will, we need to have united front on those issues. So water always, livestock grazing, droughts been a big deal. So what do we do to protect our producers when they're in the situation of a drought and what plans are in place? A lot of issues and predator species issues. Grizzly bears. Oh my goodness, you've seen the articles. We've got grizzly bears walking through people's front yards and if we're discussing our kids being out there. So lots of things with predators, wolves, grizzly bears. And just how do we protect farmers and ranchers as they do their best to put food on the table?

Randy: Since the midterm elections are about a week before your convention, do you think that will impact the discussion?

Alena: I absolutely think it is. We're nonpartisan, but we invite elected officials to come and share their message with Farm Bureau. It definitely could be interesting to see how those elections turn out and then the conversation at the convention. We really hope that some of the folks, we like to say boots under the table, some of the folks that understand where our people are coming from get into office and they can speak on behalf of Montana's farmers and ranchers. If they don't understand the issues we're facing from the grassroots level and from where we're coming from, it's really hard to expect them to speak on it or vote in a way that would help us out. So that's part of Farm Bureau's mission is to help them understand where we're coming from.

You can hear the entire interview here:

To learn more about Montana Farm Bureau Federation click here.

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