Ag focus of political tour

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Reporter

Texas Congressman Mike Conaway, who spent Monday in Central Montana, answers a question during a small gathering at Bos Terra.

Photo by Doreen Heintz

Montana’s lone Congressman Ryan Zinke came to Bos Terra, a fieldlot east of Hobson, and brought six-term Texas Congressman Mike Conaway with him. The purpose of the meeting was to meet with farmers and ranchers about their agricultural concerns. Conaway is chairman of the House of Representatives agriculture committee. Conaway said it is his job as chair of the ag committee to work on the 2018 farm bill.

“Right now producers are having the three worst years since the depression,” Conaway told a small group of ranchers and business people from Central Montana. “We will see a much different farm bill than in the past, but with so many variables I have no idea what it will look like.”

Conaway suggested some of the variables include the amount of money that will be available for farmers, who is elected President and what party controls the House of Representatives. The current farm bill expires on September 30, 2018.

During a question and answer period after a brief introduction by both congressmen, members of the audience expressed concerns over a variety of issues from sage grouse to better use of the public lands, to the Trans Pacific Partnership (a new trade agreement) and to the volatility of the futures’ markets.

Conaway is hopeful that the Trans Pacific Partnership would be helpful to Montana ag producers, but he does not see the new trade agreement passing anytime soon.

“Neither Trump or Hillary are speaking of it favorably right now,” he said, “but we need exports.”

The TPP would be a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States. Most importantly, the TPP includes the selling of wheat to the Asian Pacific buyers. It is estimated that almost 80 percent of Montana’s wheat is exported.

Following the session with the public, Zinke and Conaway were given a tour of Bos Terra by owner Robert Peterson.

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