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Special for the Missoulian Sunday, April 23, 2000

MPC customers fund $7.8 million in activities

HELENA (AP) - The Montana Power Co. announced last week that electric customers funded nearly $7.8 million in energy-efficient, renewable and low-income energy assistance activities.

The funding comes through the Universal Systems Benefits Charge, which the 1997 Legislature created to ensure continued contributions by electric utilities.

"One of the goals of creating the USBC was to encourage the development of renewable energy resources in Montana," said Dave Johnson, Montana Power's vice president of distribution services.

More than $2.7 million was contributed by Montana Power's largest customers. Most of the money was self-directed by the customers toward energy-saving projects in their own facilities. The rest was allocated to low-income activities.

The remaining $5.1 million went to low-income and residential and commercial customers for a variety of uses, including energy conservation.

Stockgrowers endorse beef checkoff vote

HELENA (AP) - The proposed vote on the national beef checkoff has won unanimous endorsement of the board of directors for the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

The organization is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to "move expeditiously" in validating signatures on the petitions.

MSGA President Keith Bales said the program has increased consumer demand and opened international markets.

All U.S. beef producers pay $1 to the checkoff program each time an animal is sold. The funds support research, education and promotional programs for the beef industry.

By law, any group asking for a beef checkoff vote must gather signatures from 10 percent of the industry, roughly 120,000 producers, in one year. The secretary of agriculture then determines if the signatures are valid and if the vote is warranted.

Nutrition conference kicks off in Bozeman

BOZEMAN (AP) - "What's Right with the Beef Industry" is the theme of the 49th annual Montana Nutrition Conference, which is scheduled in Bozeman on April 25-26.

Organizer John Paterson of Montana State University said the keynote speaker will be Gary Smith of Colorado State University.

The conference will feature menus of soon-to-be-marketed convenience beef products.

There will also be discussions of the economic outlook for the beef industry and international issues affecting meat consumption.

Conference sponsors include the Montana Beef Council, the Montana Feed Association, the Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana State University.

Beef producers can learn about profitability

GREAT FALLS - Montana beef producers interested in learning about increasing profitability on their ranches can attend two upcoming workshops around the state May 23 and 30.

The expanded MarketManager program, an effort between the Montana Grain Growers Association and Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), will be conducting the livestock marketing workshops in 14 locations via interactive video conferencing in conjunction with Montana Beef University. Montana Beef University is the educational component of the Montana Beef Network, initiated in 1997 by MSGA and Montana State University.

Dr. James Mintert of Kansas State University will present the first workshop May 23 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mintert, a livestock economist, will cover factors influencing beef prices on both the national level and here in Montana.

Dr. Harlan Hughes of North Dakota State University will conduct the second workshop May 30 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., focusing on how livestock producers can calculate their costs of production.

The MarketManager workshops will be delivered through the METNET video broadcast system to 14 sites around Montana, inclduing Missoula and Kalispell.

For more information visit the Education and Reference section of the Montana MarketManager Web site at www.montanamarketmanager.org or contact Brian Dennis at (406) 761-4596, or Quinn Holzer at (406) 442-3420.

Youngsters with passion for beef can learn more

HELENA - Young cattlemen and women with an interest in developing leadership skills and learning more about the beef industry are invited to tour Helena and southwestern Montana during the Montana Stockgrowers Association's Young Stockgrower Conference May 18-20.

Although this is the fifth year for the Young Stockgrowers Conference, this is the first time a tour will part of the itinerary. The May 19 kick-off in Helena will include speakers and group discussion on current issues and programs affecting the state's cattle industry.

The program will then hit the road May 19 and 20 with a tour of agriculture in southwestern Montana, including stops at the Butte livestock auction market, the land stewardship award-winning Matador Ranch near Dillon, and a political discussion with Dillon-area state legislators. Gov. Marc Racicot will conclude the meeting May 20 with a dinner at Helena's historic Montana Club.

The conference, chaired by Young Stockgrower alumni Kent Hereim, Judith Gap, and Chris Christensen, Hinsdale, is open to new participants as well as Young Stockgrowner alumni. To be eligible for the conference, applicants must be less than 40 years of age, and members of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

The cost is free to new participants; alumni are asked to pay $50. Applications are due by April 28 and are available by calling the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420.

Ag safety seminars avaliable in May

HELENA - The Montana Ag Safety Program will be holding several safety seminars throughout the state in May. Attendance at a seminar is mandatory for those enrolled in the Montana Ag Safety Program, which entitles participants to a discount on State Fund Workers Compensation premiums.

The meetings will last about an hour and will be led by Les Graham, Manhattan, the ag safety program coordinator, and will stress safe work practices on the farm or ranch. The farm or ranch owner or manager is required to attend, and any employees are also welcome.

Those not currently enrolled in the Montana Ag Safety Program are welcome to attend a safety seminar and complete an enrollment form on site. Any questions about the program can be directed to Les Graham at (406) 284-3502 or (406) 442-3420.

Montana Ag Safety Program seminars in western Montana:

May 8 - Outlaw Inn, Kalispell, 3 p.m.

May 9 - Kwataqnuk Inn, Polson, 10 a.m.

May 9 - Ruby's Reserve Street Inn, Missoula, 2 p.m.

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