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Breaking News: MSU Announces Cameron Endowed Chair – Beef Physiology

It was confirmed that Dr. Tim DelCurto has verbally accepted to join the staff at Montana State University's College of Agriculture. Dr. DelCcurto's position as the Endowed Chair in Beef Physiology will be a tenure-track faculty position at the Associate or Full Professor level in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences at Montana State University. The appointment will be 60% Research, 30% Teaching, and 10% Service funded by the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station and the College of Agriculture,  with emphasis on fundamentals of systems physiology of beef cattle production in Montana and the region.     Dr. Patrick Hatfield, Department Head of Animal and Ranges Sciences says, "I look forward to Tim joining our faculty in the fall.  Tim has over 20 years of experience in research and teaching.  He is a nationally recognized leader in the area of beef cattle and grazing livestock research.  Tim is an outstanding team player with the leadership skills to help move our beef research and teaching program to the next level." DelCurto currently serves as the Program Head & Director of the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center-Union Station, with a specialty in Range beef cattle nutrition and management.   MSU alumna Nancy Cameron made a $3.5 million gift to the MSU Foundation to endow the faculty research chair, three scholarship funds and a business professorship at MSU. Cameron is descended from a pioneering ranching family with a 125-year history in the state. The family ranch was southwest of Great Falls.   “Nancy Cameron’s gift provided important, initial funds for a dedicated faculty researcher focusing on cattle production in Montana,” said John Grande, chairman of the Montana Stockgrowers Research, Education and Endowment Foundation.  “As a group, we want to help bolster this generous gift by raising additional support for dedicated graduate fellowships.  Our state needs faculty and graduate students to lead industry-driven projects that directly benefit the Montana livestock industry.”   The Montana Stockgrowers Association Research, Education and Endowment Foundation and the MSU Alumni Foundation also worked together to raise $1 million for graduate student fellowships in animal and range sciences. The fellowships, which will cover tuition and other fees for graduate students, will enhance with the newly established Nancy Cameron Faculty Chair in animal and range sciences, supporting research tied to the livestock industry.     Source:  Montana State University and Northern Ag Network Photo courtesy of Montana NRCS & Oregon State University

MSU Extension Warns Livestock Owners to be Aware of Toxic Plant

From MSU News Service   BOZEMAN - A native wildflower with a foreboding name is abundant on Montana rangelands this spring. Death camas (Zigadenus spp.), a plant that resembles wild onion, has caused at least four cattle deaths in Yellowstone County so far this year. “Montana livestock owners may want to take extra precautions and adjust when and how pastures with death camas are grazed this year,” said Jeff Mosley, Montana State University  Extension  range management specialist. Death camas is highly toxic to cattle, sheep and horses during spring, especially the underground onion-like bulb. When soils are moist, livestock can pull the bulb out of the ground and ingest it. Death camas greens-up early, making it more accessible and palatable than other plants in early spring, contributing to livestock eating toxic amounts.  “Toxicity is less likely if livestock turn-out can be delayed to allow other forage to grow more,” said Mosley. “Toxic levels of ingestion commonly occur in pastures where grass is in short supply.” There is no treatment for death camas poisoning. The only way to avoid it is to minimize the concentration of the toxin in an animal’s diet. Livestock need to eat as little death camas, and as much grass, as possible. “Death camas poisoning can be minimized by making sure livestock grazing intensity is light to moderate on rangeland with death camas,” Mosley said. “Also, animals in high body condition are better able to tolerate death camas toxins. Livestock owners should be especially concerned about death camas if livestock are in low body condition coming out of winter.” The concentration of toxins in death camas and other plants varies with weather. “This year appears to be a year when growing conditions have caused death camas to be more toxic and more abundant than usual. Livestock owners should try to avoid spring grazing this year in pastures where death camas is abundant,” said Mosley. Death camas usually must dominate livestock diets to reach a lethal dose. But sub-lethal doses of death camas have subtle and significant negative effects, decreasing animal weight gain and milk production and inhibiting reproduction, according to Mosley. Some evidence indicates that death camas is more toxic to livestock during cool, stormy weather. “The chemical structure of the toxins in death camas becomes more toxic when the barometer drops, increasing chances of livestock poisoning even when livestock don’t eat very much death camas,” warned Mosley. Other evidence indicates that genetic resistance to toxic plant poisoning varies. “Livestock owners should be cautious with death camas if they have purchased livestock from outside their herd,” Mosley said. “Livestock new to the area likely have less genetic resistance to the death camas that is growing on their rangeland.” Death camas is difficult to control with herbicides. Dicamba and 2, 4-D can be effective when applied in early spring when plants have three-six leaves and before flowering stalks appear. For more information or questions, contact a local MSU Extension agent or visit . 

MGGA: TPP Good for Montana Agriculture

  Op-Ed by Montana Grain Growers Association   Montana agriculture has benefited greatly from having strong relationships with our overseas trading partners. Ease of trade is vital to farmers in this great state, and exports are essential to a strong agricultural economy. Wheat is the most export-dependent grain commodity in the United States, and the number one agricultural export from Montana. With Southeast Asia being a key area of growth, Montana is especially poised to benefit from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The USDA projects wheat imports by key Southeast Asian markets to increase by nearly 50% by 2025. Australia currently has free trade agreements with virtually the entire region. Without TPP, Australia will be the sole preferential supplier in those growing markets.    A level playing field is an absolute necessity; even a 5% tariff at current prices puts U.S. supplies at $12-$15 per ton higher compared to Australia, Canada, and the Black Sea. TPP allows Japan, an important Montana trading partner, to create new tariff-rate quotas for wheat and wheat products, and eliminate existing tariffs for processed products such as cookies and crackers. Additionally, Malaysia and Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on wheat and wheat products. TPP makes significant progress in non-tariff provisions as well, including biotechnology, sanitary-phytosanitary requirements, and environmental and worker protections. TPP is fundamentally different from past bilateral trade agreements, in that it is a platform that should expand in future years. The expansion of TPP would benefit wheat and other ag commodities significantly, especially as populations and economies continue to grow in the Pacific Rim.    A good example of what happens to agriculture when the United States falls behind on trade agreements is Colombia. While a U.S. agreement with them was stalled, Canada passed their own trade pact and it completely decimated U.S. market share, with long-term average U.S. wheat exports falling from over 55% down to 27%. It is vital to Montana grain producers to both maintain and expand market access, and free trade agreements provide that framework.   TPP will boost demand for U.S. farm products among nearly 500 million consumers in 11 countries across the Asia-Pacific region; end harmful tariffs which decrease U.S. competitiveness; and establish high-standard trade rules, which will allow the U.S. to become a leader in market-driven and science-based avenues of trade, directly improving the U.S. food and agriculture industry.    With over 12,000 Montana jobs supported by agricultural exports, and $1.6 billion in agricultural export value to the state, TPP will benefit not only wheat farmers, but every person throughout the extensive supply chain. From the implement dealer to the country elevator manager to the longshoreman loading vessels at the port, this 21st century trade agreement guarantees huge benefits to Montana agriculture. Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS: Wheatfield east of Great Falls