Montana Public Radio

livestock

 


This story is part of a series on lasting ways Montana is adapting to the pandemic. It’s funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Montana’s cattle ranchers hard. Midwest meat plants shuttered because of disease outbreaks, upending the traditional supply chain and leaving ranchers with animals they might not be able to sell. The burgeoning local food systems may play more of a role going forward. 

Last week’s Graying Pains story explored the challenges of family farm succession as Montana’s agricultural demographic ages, and a program designed to connect up-and-coming farmers in Montana. This week’s installment explores the same issue — and a community college proposal to address it — near the state’s eastern border.

Not everyone who is interested in agriculture grows up on a farm, and without the skills and experience, finding your way into a family farm operation as a new producer is difficult.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue (center) in Missoula to announce new USFS priorities June 12, 2020. Behind him: Chuck Roady, GM of F.H. Stoltze, Rep. Gianforte, USDA Undersecretary James Hubbard, Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, RMEF Pres. Kyle Weaver
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

*UPDATED 06/13 

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary visited Missoula Friday to announce a blueprint to prioritize work for the U.S Forest Service.

Supporters say it will modernize the agency and cut unnecessary red tape. Opponents, however, counter it will undermine the nation’s laws aimed at protecting the environment.


A federal agency agreed to temporarily limit how and where it kills wildlife that threaten livestock in Montana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reached the settlement in federal court with WildEarth Guardians May 14.


While economists warn of potential meat shortages in grocery stores this month, livestock producers are struggling to find ways of getting their animals to market for a fair price. Many ranchers in Montana are seeking out more local options and hoping for reforms in the industry. Yellowstone Public Radio’s Rachel Cramer shared her reporting with Nicky Ouellet.

Electric fencing can be an effective tool for protecting livestock such as chickens, goats and young cattle.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Grizzly bears are repopulating areas of Montana that haven’t seen them for decades, creating more conflict between livestock, people and bears. Some ranchers are learning they need to do something that doesn’t come naturally — change how they live on the land.

As bears were hibernating in their dens this winter, the Blackfeet Stockgrowers Association held a meeting in Choteau to provide a space for ranchers like Mark Hitchcock to talk about working alongside the growing number of grizzly bears on the Rocky Mountain Front.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced Monday that an elk herd in the Bangtail Mountains has tested negative for brucellosis. State wildlife managers recently completed the two-year project aimed at understanding the risk and spread of the disease in wildlife and livestock.

A landowner advocacy group in Montana filed a complaint this week against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks saying that the department has not thoroughly explored the consequences of allowing free-roaming wild bison in the state.

Herford cattle.
USDA

A Wyoming rancher was awarded nearly $340,000 last month after disputing wildlife managers’ initial offer to pay for several livestock killed by grizzlies and wolves. 

While the large payout is unusual, Montana ranchers say it’s calling attention to funding issues for livestock losses on this side of the border.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks this week released a document nearly eight years in the making that outlines how bison could be restored in the state as publicly managed wildlife. 

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