Zinke vote a negative consequence to Montana

Dear Editor,

Most voters are unaware that in 2015, Congressman Ryan Zinke voted to rescind Country of Origin labeling of retail beef. This action resulted in a surge of beef imports, contributing to a crash in the cattle market. Prices for feeder calves this fall are 42 percent lower than last year. This amounts to an average of $600 less per calf for the 1.2 million feeder calves Montana ranchers sell annually.

In terms of Montana’s economy, about three quarters of a billion dollars is not available to ranch families to purchase Christmas presents for their kids, a newer car, upgrades on worn-out machinery, or a night out on the town with the spouse. This is money that is not flowing through Montana’s economy and affects everyone.

To put this in perspective, this fall there are a lot of political attack ads accusing Democratic candidates of somehow causing the closure of coalmines, even though it is not plausible that these candidates had any influence or effect on low international coal prices, the actual reason why coal companies have declared bankruptcy. And we should understand that coal mining contributes less to Montana’s economy than does ranching. I don’t know how any other single Congressional vote could have had a greater negative consequence to Montana, as did Mr. Zinke’s rescinding of Country of Origin labeling.

Gilles Stockton

Grass Range

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