DOJ: News Release

Montana Attorney General Testifies at Landmark Agriculture Hearing with Cabinet Secretaries

Bullock: “If we value keeping ‘family’ in family farming and ranching,” status quo is not an option

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock joined cabinet secretaries, the Colorado governor and major national players on the keynote panel of a workshop in Colorado today on competition and regulatory issues in the livestock industry.

“There are core values each of us share. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, Stockgrower or Cattlemen’s, R-CALF or NCBA – I’ve never heard a rancher say they didn’t want their children to have the viable option to carry on the family business,” Bullock testified. “So, if nothing else, ensuring that family farming and ranching is viable for today’s and tomorrow’s producers should be the shared focal point as we move forward.”

Bullock was joined in the roundtable discussion by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Congresswoman Betsy Markey, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. and other top agriculture and antitrust officials.

In his testimony (full testimony below and online, Bullock outlined the need for immediate action:

  • Over the last 30 years, Montana has lost on average over 150 ranches a year.
  • As of 2007, the average Montana rancher was 58 years old.
  • Only half of Montana producers have the farm or ranch as their primary source of income.
  • And 20 of Montana’s 56 counties are experiencing long-term population decline. Every one of those waning counties is significantly dependent on agriculture.

Today’s summit is the fourth in a series of workshops being held nationally this year to discuss the vulnerability of agricultural producers and the nation’s consumers to anticompetitive conduct. Bullock also testified at the first hearing in March which focused on crops.

Bullock, who has led national antitrust efforts among attorneys general, has made agriculture protection a priority for his administration. Agriculture is Montana’s largest industry, with crop and livestock production valued at nearly $3 billion annually.

The workshop was held at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Other panels included representatives from producer and industry organizations and academics in the field, as well as Giles Stockton, a rancher from Grass Range, Montana.

Thousands of ranchers from across the nation attended Friday’s workshop. More information and an agenda of today’s hearing are available online.

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