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WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2016 – Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept more than 504,000 acres that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas, while providing important conservation benefits.

USDA will accept more than 2,100 offers totaling more than 504,000 acres across 34 states. Over 70 percent of the acres are from beginning farmers, veterans and underserved producers. About two-thirds of the acres are in counties with the highest threat for conversion. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the acres are in wildlife priority areas and nearly three-fourths of the acres will have a wildlife-focused conservation plan as part of the operation.  

Announced during the Annual Meeting, Nov. 18-19, Northern Plains Resource Council members elected the following officers to the Board of Directors for 2017.

Chair Kate French of Bozeman; Vice Chair Becky Mitchell of Billings; Secretary Ed Gulick of Billings; Treasurer Jeanie Alderson of Birney; Assistant Secretary Cindy Webber of Big Timber; Assistant Treasurer Deb Muth of Red Lodge; at-large Board members Janet McMillan of Greenough, Walter Archer of Olive, Morgan Pett of Miles City, and Alaina Buffalo Spirit of Lame Deer.

Despite popular myths, grazing cattle is a necessary part of maintaining the ecosystem, Nicolette Hahn Niman told about 175 people gathered Nov. 18-19 for Northern Plains Resource Council’s 45th Annual Meeting in Billings.

“Overall, we must maintain grazing as a necessary force for positive environmental impacts,” she said in her keynote speech. “If you raise cattle, and other grazing animals, well, they’re actually a necessary part of our ecosystem.”

Hahn Niman said one of the myths about cattle is how much water is needed to produces a pound of beef. 

Billings, Mont. - Speaking to about 1,200 ranchers who attended one of six meetings held November 10-15 in the Dakotas, R-CALF USA gained support for a plan it wants President-elect Donald Trump to implement during his first 100 days in office. Herman Schumacher, the group's co-founder and a South Dakota cattle feeder, organized the meetings along with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota. The South Dakota meetings were held in Aberdeen, Platte, Huron, Fort Pierre and Herreid. The last meeting was held in Mandan, North Dakota.

The largest turnout was Aberdeen, where more than 400 cattle producers watched R-CALF USA's presentation, "Making the U.S. Cattle Industry Great Again," and listened as Kim Ulmer, owner of Livestock-R-Us and co-owner of Huron Continental Marketing, explained why the cattle futures market is no longer a viable risk management tool for ranchers. Attendees stayed an additional hour to ask questions and learn more about the plan to fix the industry's broken markets.

Inspirational speakers shared their thought on leadership and advocacy today during the 97th Montana Farm Bureau Annual Convention in downtown Billings. The morning kicked off with Vance Crowe, director of millennial engagement for Monsanto, explaining one needs to not only tell their story, but realize new ideas are coming along that will change the conversation about agriculture.

“A mountain has grown up between the famers and the urban public with the result being a fear among consumers that is spreading,” Crowe explained. “Everything around us is built on the backbone of agriculture. However, never in the history of humanity has there been a larger shift of people than over the past 100 years for agrarian to urban. A lot of people don’t understand agriculture and they don’t understand about weeds or blight. This means people involved agriculture need to outcompete pseudoscience. You need to let the public know that you are a farmer and you do care. Once you can show shared values, people will listen to you.”