GOP Candidates for Western U.S. House Seat talk ag, rural issues

GOP Candidates for Western U.S. House Seat talk ag, rural issues

More competition for fairer prices in agriculture and country of origin labeling are things GOP candidates for Montana’s Western U.S. House seat said they favor, although they differed on the routes to get there.
Despite their different approaches, the candidates all spoke to the importance of agriculture in Montana and to the health of the country.

Western District U.S. House GOP primary candidates Mitch Heuer, Matt Jette, Al “Doc” Olszewski, and Mary Todd shared their thoughts about the topics, as well as other rural and ag-related issues during a debate Friday in Whitefish. Ryan Zinke did not attend.

Zinke and Matt Rosendale were the only two candidates who opted not to participate in the four-part series of debates that featured democratic and republican candidates for Montana’s two House seats. The debates were co-sponsored by Montana Farmers Union, United States Cattlemen’s Association, Montana Cattlemen’s Association and the Northern Plains Resource Council.

“I appreciate the candidates who took the time out of their busy campaign schedules to come and talk about issues important to ag and Montana’s rural communities,” Schweitzer said, adding Zinke’s and Rosendale’s lack of participation is frustrating.

Giving voters chance to hear where candidates stand on issues “is critically important to our democracy,” Schweitzer added.

The GOP candidates for the Western District differed on many issues, including what they would prioritize in the Farm Bill, which is set to receive an overhaul next year.

Putting a stop to foreign countries buying farm land, as well as ending the purchase of fertilizer from overseas were two things Todd said she would prioritize.

Heuer shared his thoughts on encouraging small businesses and farmers with low interest loans on a sliding scale.

Jette said farmers and ranchers must be at the table when discussions take place around the complex issues, and that farmers’ livelihoods must be safeguarded against market competitions.

Removing food stamps from the Farm Bill would be Olszewski’s preference, but he acknowledged that is unlikely. More attainable goals would be to increase work requirements for food stamps and reduce the marriage penalty for food stamps. He added that he would prefer if the USDA has less authority over Montana farmers and said he would like to see the 2015 Clean Water Rule removed. He also said the federal government should pay fairly for producer livestock losses due to predators who are protected.  

Recordings of all the debates can be found at

“I think we have a good slate of candidates running on both sides of the aisle, and I think that they spoke to the issues well,” Schweitzer said. “I didn’t agree with all their answers, but again, they made me think. And that’s what’s important here.”

Press Information:
MFU President Walter Schweitzer: 406-799-3782
Montana Farmers Union has worked more than 100 years for family farms, ranches, and rural communities. MFU supports its members through: Strong education programs for both youth and adults, by advocating member-driven policies and legislation at the state and federal level, and cooperation through producer-owned co-ops.


2023 Montana Farmers Union Annual Convention

October 27, 2023 - October 28, 2023
Heritage Inn, Great Falls MT