Montana Governor Gianforte’s Letter to USDA

HELENA, MT (STL.News) Governor Greg Gianforte urged Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to resolve anticipated delays in the approval of export certificates for Montana livestock.

“In the face of severe drought affecting the northwestern United States, our producers are experiencing a shortage of forage leading to significant early marketing of cows and calves,” Gov. Gianforte wrote in a letter to Sec. Vilsack. “Unfortunately, sellers are now anticipating a three-to-four-day processing time for export certificates due to a retirement in the USDA-VS Endorsement Office in Idaho and a lack of experience in the Washington state office.”

“This is a substantial, burdensome increase in processing time from the same-day endorsements many of our exporters are accustomed to,” the governor continued.

The governor outlined the burdens these anticipated export delays would place on Montana producers, including additional feed costs for producers and increased opportunity for disease events.

“Additionally, cattle in Montana are often sold through livestock commission companies with sales on a tight schedule.  If cattle are required to remain at a facility from prior sales, that will limit the facility’s capacity to hold incoming animals, increase yard fees, and further increase the cost of exportation.”

To resolve the anticipated delays and reduce this burden on Montana ranchers, the governor is requesting that all export certificates be endorsed in less than 24-hours following receipt of appropriate documentation.  When processing times are longer than 24-hours, the governor is requesting USDA offer Montana ranchers extended hours at an endorsement office in the Pacific Time Zone.

On July 1, the governor declared a statewide drought emergency in Montana to make available all necessary state government resources to mitigate the impacts of drought on producers.

He has repeatedly urged Secretary Vilsack to declare all Montana counties as drought disaster areas, as well as open up all of Montana’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage for emergency haying and grazing.

Gov. Gianforte’s full letter to Secretary Vilsack can be viewed here.