MT HD 80 - 2018 - Ron Vandevender
We are all concerned with the economic situation within our state and how it effects our families. As we all know agriculture is the main life blood of Montana, and a vivid, agressive approach will lead us to better times. Giving us a stronger economy and create jobs. Yet we have many things which need to be looked at in order to boost this even more. It's easy for us to fall into the so called
traditional mindset of how things have always been thus it must remain that we have tendicies to overlook 1) how these same areas can be expanded and 2) what can we add to the mix to benefit more. In other words we keep all our eggs in 1 or 2 baskets so to speak. Growing up working the family farm, I am well aware of
this train of thought and the dangers involved. We had issues when it was brought up to diversify and break away from the traditional agriculture of the area and
expand. When that age old view was gotten past and other areas looked at, our agriculture boomed and things which were not considered before became major cash crops and helped buffer against weak years in the traditional areas.
  
   My view for the future of Montanas agri business includes such growth in other areas. Some we already have in minor form and need to be expanded. Dry beans, sugar beats, honey and the like. We have vast areas of land in this state which sit untouched which I will be encouraging our ranchers and farmers to put into production. Montana has the land and ability to change the flow of things to where we produce the bulk of our food, import less and benefit our producers, large and small financially as well as the public at large.
 
   Some of this could be more difficult for our larger operations that are geared towards certain products to be able to add large scale investments to make that kind of transformation over a short period. This is where co-ops of smaller producers come into play. It allows us to make a transformation to other products without mass investments and allows these products to be introduced into the market place on a competitive scale and helping those who may not otherwise be able to compete otherwise. Co-ops are great investments which can benefit both in moving products into the market place or purchasing what is needed to keep
our operations running.
 
   I also see for Montana, value added agri based businesses as well. We produce
millions of head of cattle yearly of some of the best beef on the market, with the bulk shipped out of state for processing, then we import back most of what we consume. This is backwards. We need processing plants here, why import $10 lb steaks, when we can process our own, pay less for local meat and export the $10 lb steaks. This is not protectionism, just good sense that we have to thing of Montana first, others second. This in itself would add millions of dollars to the economy here at home. Instead of shipping our wheat out for processing lets
double our money and process it ourself. Better yet let's manufacture the finished products from wheat and export the rest. Which we do to a degree. This would
increase our economy 4x's or better over just exporting the wheat.
 
   My next step is to aggressively push the hemp market. Don't confuse hemp with marijuana(that is covered elsewhere on the sight), they are two different plants entirely. With this plant, paper can be produced without toxic bleach as is needed with wood based paper. It regenerates the soil and removes toxins from the environment. Rope, clothing, cooking oils, a more powerful and cleaner burning biofuel, fiber-board with a better insulation value than lumber which is also cheaper to produce, hempcreate which is stronger than concreate, along with literally 1,000's of other uses, can be economically produced from this plant. Here's
another example. The Canadians have developed a car which will be released on the market in the next year or so, with the body componants made from this plant,
which is lighter and cheaper than fiberglass yet stronger than steal. Their government is also investing heavily in more processing plants just to handle the growth of hemp product demand within the U.S. To give an example of what this plant can mean to the Montana economy and our agricultural businesses, out
of the roughly 60mil acres of agricultural land, if we converted 1% of this for hemp (600,000 acres) we would produce over $43 mil dollars in dry stem tonnage alone
each year. Building processing facilities to separate the different fibers increases this to over $90 mil a year. You could imagine what finished products would net. This is off a low seed producing strain alone. A high seed producer would yield 400 lbs of seed an acres (plus the fiber aspect). Seed run over $11 lb on the market, at just $10 lb this would be $4000 per acres. Creating bio fuel off this kind of acreage we could produce 2.1 mil gal of ethanol each year. These figures don't include small acres operations to co-op.
 
   We also need to work on infrastructure, although it is not an agri based issue, it does effect our ability to move products from the farm and ranch to the market
in a swift and economical manner which is vital to the agricultural industry. A booming vital agricultural industry must in its big picture be based on producing as much as possible in a wide variety of products and include the small
operations as well as the large.
 
   I will be adding much more on the agricultural industry and the issues that effect this industry and our producers as time moves on. Some of these areas will include health care afford ability, and taxes.