Hello members, below are the legislative positions of Montana Farmers Union after week two of the 67th Legislative session. We have completed our first member advocacy ambassador training on how and when to contact your legislator. In case you missed this webinar it is available on our website at montanafarmersunion.com. There will be legislative issues and bills that will affect your operation and life in rural Montana. You may want to weigh in on these issues and provide testimony of potential bills. Please visit montanafarmersunion.com for current legislature information and potential bills of impact. There are pending bills involving farms, food production, taxes, health care and education.
MFU Priority and Supported Bills for the 67th Legislative session
- LC0371 — Generally revise certain labeling laws: Country of Origin Placarding bill. This bill will require a placard identifying the Country-of-Origin to be placed near beef and pork products in retail locations. This bill is being worked through legal. This is a top priority bill for MFU, working with Rep. Frank Smith, Rep. Willis Curdy, and Sen. Tom Jacobsen.
- LC1562 – Generally revise laws related to equipment repair: This bill would provide that the manufacturers of electronics enabled equipment provide farmers and ranchers, as well as independent repair shops, the tools necessary to repair their own equipment. The bill is getting finalized and we expect it to be introduced shortly. This bill is a top priority for MFU. We are working with Rep. Katie Sullivan, Sen. Mark Sweeny, and Rep. Willis Curdy on this bill.
- Product of USA resolution: Resolution to provide a “Product of the USA” label for beef and pork born raised and processed in the United States. This will align with the current federal mandate enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. We have secured sponsors for the resolution and have the bill getting into the drafting process. This resolution is a top priority for MFU. We are working with Sen. Ellie Boldman and Rep. Willis Curdy on this resolution.
- LC1424 — Appropriate funds for doubling SNAP dollars: The Double SNAP Dollars program allows for Montanans who face food insecurity to afford more local fruit and vegetables. State investment would not only provide stability for current operating sites (participating farmers markets and farm share markets), but also allow the program to improve food security for vulnerable families and improve health outcomes. Montana Farmers Union supports this bill because it will boost local food systems and prevent food insecurity among vulnerable Montanans. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Andrea Olson.
- LC0662 – Commercial Property-Assessed Capital Enhancements Programs: This bill creates a financing program that would allow Montana producers to make energy efficiency upgrades to their property. Montana Farmers Union supports this bill because it encourages energy conservation practices and creates more jobs. This bill will be sponsored by Sen. Mary McNally.
- LC1256 – Soil Health Study: This bill would dedicate an interim committee to study the viability of a comprehensive soil health program in the State of Montana. This Soil Health Study bill will help guide/educate an interim committee on soil health measures in order to develop policy recommendations to both the state and federal decision makers. Montana Farmers Union supports this bill because it will allow stakeholders within the state to develop a plan of possibilities that will work for Montana. This Bill is sponsored by Sen. Pat Flowers.
Bills that MFU supported last week:
- SB 26 – Clarify use of tribal agreements for livestock producers within reservations. This bill was sponsored Sen. Butch Gillespie and heard in Senate Agriculture on Jan. 12 and passed unanimously out of the Senate Ag committee on Jan. 14. This bill is to make sure that those who have livestock loss, and use tribal land to run their cattle, they will not be exempt from the livestock loss program and the language is more inclusive.
- SB 27 – Allow multiplier reimbursement for loss of livestock. This bill is sponsored by Sen. Butch Gillespie. This bill was heard on Jan. 12 in Senate Agriculture and passed unanimously out of the Senate Ag committee on Jan. 14.
- HB 93 – Expand materials certified under noxious weed seed free program. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Walsh and was heard on Jan. 14 in House Agriculture and MFU supported this bill.
- HB 94 – Expand loan types in Montana Farmer Loan Repayment Assistance Program. HB 94 is a fixer bill for this loan fund that will now accurately reflect the real picture of student loans that includes both private and federal student loans. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Walsh and was heard on Jan. 14 in House Agriculture. MFU supported this bill.
Bills of interest this past week:
- SB 58 – Provide fund transfer for livestock losses. This bill was heard on Jan. 14 in the Senate Agriculture committee and passed out of committee unanimously on Jan. 14.
Bills of interest in this week:
- HB 142 – Generally revise hemp laws: This bill is sponsored by Rep. Josh Kassmier. This bill will be heard on Jan. 19 in the House Agriculture committee and revises the definitions of hemp to be more in line with the federal definitions.
Contact us with questions and to volunteer with our legislative efforts!
- Kim Mangold, Government Relations Affairs Director: email@example.com, 459-6341
- President Walter Schweitzer: firstname.lastname@example.org, 799-3782
- Rachel Prevost, Lobbyist: email@example.com, 478-2306
- Lyndsay Bruno, Communications Director: firstname.lastname@example.org, 788-8777
Visit our website at montanafarmersunion.com to keep up with all the legislative action, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for legislative news and updates!
Please join us Wednesdays at 12 p.m. for a legislative webinar update presented by Kim Mangold and Rachel Prevost.