MT Stockgrowers’ Update: From Water Courts to Foreign-Owned Land
From water courts to foreign-owned land and questions about mRNA vaccines in cattle. We caught up with Raylee Honeycutt, the Executive Vice President for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, for a legislative update as the Montana Legislature nears the end of the session.
Foreign ownership of farmland in Montana
The Montana Stockgrowers are supporting legislation in the Montana Legislature that would bar foreign adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran from buying critical infrastructure in the state- including farm and ranchland.
Raylee Honeycutt: I think that foreign land ownership from a bigger perspective, especially from those adversarial countries is a national security issue not only from - a military perspective- but also from a food security perspective.
Ag land valuations
One challenge we talked about is the outside organizations and wealthy individuals who are also buying up farmland. On one hand you have foreign billionaires funding enviro groups like the American Prairie Reserve to kick the ranchers off the land. This drives up the price of land for a young family wanting to buy the land to keep it in production agriculture. Add to that wealthy out of staters buying the land for a trophy hunting property. The bottom line is if someone isn't going to keep the land in production agriculture, then they shouldn't get taxed on the land as if it were ag land.
Raylee Honeycutt: Our organization and our members have brought policy forward saying that we have identified this being an issue. We've identified that agricultural land is being bought and taken out of production agriculture, and we need to figure out a way to tax those individuals and have them not get the tax breaks that agricultural lands get.
Honeycutt says 4 bills have been introduced in the last week or so, but that the bills are not yet ready for prime time and still need some more work done.
Handling water rights cases through a state water court: Senate Bill 72
Raylee Honeycutt: Montana Stockgrowers does strongly support this bill. I think it's important to note that we have been going through final decrees and dealing with water rights in our state for over 50 years, and we're starting to see some final decrees rolling out. All of those decrees should be done by 2028-2029. And we need a way for water right users to go to a court and have people that know water law determine their decisions. What's really nice about this bill is there are many people around the state that do like to go to District Court. You will have the option to go to the district court or the water court.
What about mRNA vaccines in cattle?
Raylee Honeycutt: There are no mRNA vaccines being used in cattle. But it's important to note that that's a technology that's been around for decades. So I know with the COVID controversies a lot of questions have been raised, but this is a technology that's been around a long time. What I want to get out to our your listeners and reiterate is that we vaccinate cattle to treat and prevent them from diseases. But regardless of the vaccine technology, we make sure that there are no components of vaccines present in animals before they go to slaughter. So there is a process and a withdrawal period or a digestion period that happens with vaccines to ensure people are safe.
Full audio can be found in the 2nd half of the audio below:
there are no mRNA vaccines being used in cattle. And you know, that's it. But it's important to note, but that's a technology that's been around for decades. So I know with the COVID controversies, a lot of questions have been raised. But this is a technology that's been around a long time. What I want to get out to our your listeners and reiterate is that we vaccinate cattle to treat and prevent them from diseases. But regardless of the vaccine technology, we make sure that there are no components of vaccines present in animals before they go to slaughter. So there is a process and a withdrawal period or a digestion period that happened with vaccines to ensure people are safe