BILLINGS – The Montana Farm Bureau Federation held its 99th annual meeting in Billings last week, which is a series of educational workshops, renowned speakers, and networking opportunities.
The foundation of MFBF comes from member delegates that ensure the group’s policy book is in line with modern agriculture and issues that impact agriculture.
“These policies started at the county level,” said Stevensville rancher and MFBF President Hans McPherson. “These are things that concerned them in their home county. Some of them are statewide issues. Some of them just concerned their own home county but they bring them to the state convention to discuss them and vote on them as a delegate body. That’s what makes our policy book to guide our lobbyists in our efforts in Helena and in Washington, D.C.”
It’s difficult for farmers and ranchers to take time away from their businesses which is why MFBF is a voice for them in Helena and Washington, D.C. Each legislative session brings different issues that the group works on.
“There’s some water legislation as always and we’re looking to protect senior water rights for our members,” said MFBF Executive Vice President John Youngberg. “There are some bills on OSHA that we’ll be tracking closely. Also, on a fire preparedness fee that we’re looking at. As always, making sure that our member’s interests are reflected in all legislation.”
The policy set by family farmers and ranchers that make up the MFBF has shaped Montana over the past century. February 13, 2019 marks the group’s 100th birthday and with that comes a rich and vibrant history.
“It is an interesting story for our birthday and the date the legislation was passed that allowed us to organize,” said John Youngberg. “It seems odd because you know that a non-governmental organization would have to have legislation to do that. The truth is, in 1919 we just finished World War One. Anytime people were organizing or held large meetings, there was the threat of Bolshevism. So, our first agents had to go out and get permission from the War Department in order to hold large meetings. So, it’s a different time but an interesting part of our history.”
As MFBF looks back on the past 100 years, they are also looking to the next 100.
“The young people we’re investing in have a lot of talent and we are putting our resources and our money into the Young Farmer and Rancher Program,” said Hans McPherson. “Those folks are our future and I tell you I feel really confident that our future is in great hands.”
With the 99th annual MFBF Convention now in the books. The organization will look at celebrating their 100 years as a grassroots policy organization for Montana farmers and ranchers.
They will hold centennial celebration events over the next year. A special 100th Birthday event will be held at the State Capitol in Helena on February 13, 2019.
-Lane Nordlund reporting for MTN News