(Great Falls)- Candidates for Montana governor will have the opportunity to state their positions on rural and agriculture issues by virtual primary debate on April 25. Cowles Media Television Network and Northern News Radio Network will air the debates statewide beginning at 7 p.m. All candidates have been invited. Democratic party candidates Whitney Williams and Mike Cooney and Republican candidates Tim Fox and Dr. Al Olszewski have confirmed. We are hoping Greg Gianforte will confirm soon to participate in this important discussion on rural and agriculture issues.
The primary debates are sponsored by Montana Farmers Union, Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana Cattlemen Association and the United States Cattlemen Association.
“We look forward to hearing the candidates’ positions on rural and agriculture issues,” said Walter Schweitzer, President of Montana Farmers Union. “Montana farmers and ranchers are facing some real challenges. Price gouging by multinational meat packers, plunging cattle prices and a loss of markets for all agricultural commodities are just some of the challenges. We need real solutions to help our family farmers and ranchers survive. “
“Agriculture has always been the backbone of Montana’s economy, but our independent producers have been under threat for far too long, “said Jeanie Alderson, a Birney rancher and chair of Northern Plains Resource Council. “Family ranchers have been struggling for decades, and the current pandemic has only made an existing crisis that much worse. We hope to hear how office-seekers will stand up for Montana’s independent ag producers with meaningful actions to encourage and enforce fair market competition. The future of our rural economies is at stake, and we need courage from our prospective leaders.”
“For the past five years, Montana’s cattle ranchers have silently suffered through a depression in cattle prices, the result of an increasingly non-competitive dysfunctional market for cattle, said Gilles Stockton, Montana Cattlemen Association. “Just since 2015, two and a half billion dollars have been extracted ranch families and from the Montana economy as whole. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused cattle prices to crash to even new lows. Too many of Montana’s politicians are seemingly oblivious to the economic struggle faced by rural communities. This coming debate will give voters an idea about which candidates know and care about rural Montana and which do not.”
Candidates for governor issued the following statements regarding the debate:
“I’m delighted to take part in the Farmers Union debate so Montanans can hear our positions on bringing bold, new leadership to Helena,” said Whitney Williams. “Our farm and ranch economy are key to Montana’s future — from our Main Streets all the way to Wall Street. As a businessperson, I look forward to discussing policies Buzz and I will take to Helena to ensure a strong and vibrant ag economy. This pandemic has presented new challenges, and we’ll talk about how we will guide Montana through this health and economic crisis.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with farmers, ranchers and rural communities all across the state for many years during my time in public office here in Montana,” said Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney. “I’m looking forward to having a robust debate about the current challenges and opportunities we’re facing and how as Governor I will be a committed partner in addressing these issues.”
“I’m disappointed that Greg Gianforte is yet again ducking the debate stage, said Tim Fox. “He would rather try and buy the election than discuss his ideas with voters. Montanans deserve to hear candidates’ vision for our state’s future; how they plan to address our greatest challenges. That’s why I look forward to joining Dr. Al on the debate stage, and hope voters will hold Greg Gianforte accountable on Election Day for his unwillingness to speak to voters about his plan for the future.”
“I’m excited to share my story and my vision to promote and protect Montana’s number one economy, said Dr. Al Olszewski.”
The debates will air live on the following Cowles Media television affiliates:
- Great Falls: ABC, FOX and SWX
- Helena: ABC, FOX and SWX (SWX has same signal as Great Falls
- Bozeman/Butte: ABC, FOX and SWX
- Missoula/Kalispell: ABC, FOX and SWX
- Billings: SWX
Northern News Network will air the debates on is KGHL AM790, 94.7FM and network affiliates.