E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


My Billings Education

(Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Gary Gollehon posted this piece yesterday on the www.reclaimruralamerica.org forum.

Just returned from a Meeting in Billings, hosted by MSU Billings, called "Passport to Success--Linking the World" an International Business Conference.

The Conference started on Thursday morning, with openings by Dr. Ronald P. Sexton, Chancellor from MSU Billings and Dr. Joe Michels, Dean of the College of Business.

There were 3 breakout sessions: Montana Grain Production in a Global Economy; Energy for Montana's Future and Telehealth, Medicine Goes The Distance.

I attended the Montana Grain Production. At the table were Earl Bricker of Montana Farm Bureau, Richard Owen of Montana Grain Growers, Gary Broyles of Montana Grain Growers and Erik Iverson, Chief of Staff to Denny Rehberg.

I guess I was expecting a few other farm organizaitons and maybe a con-stance on G.E. grains, since the audience was filled with students from Billings and Bozeman colleges, but the conversation was pretty much one-sided, in favor of G.M.O's and how we must educate the European countries who are so against it. One comment was that the Europeans are so far behind us in technology that they will agree when they understand what we know! Wow, what a statement. I personally think the Europeans are dedicated to their own agriculture and they have found a good way to protect it from foreign control (something we (the U.S.) are far behind in!), by saying no to "GMO's or GE" wheats, much as they are saying no to our beef for similar reasons.

Another comment was "Think positive, the negatives take care of themselves!" I think we got a whole bunch of positives that should be reclassified negatives that ain't takin' care of themselves, because they were proposed by a bunch of "experts" that have gotten themselves so far removed from the real world that they don't even realize what is happening out there.

At noon, the luncheon speakers were from Canada, Robert Frazier, Chairman of the Executive Board of Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance; and from Mexico, Sergio soto, Economic Counselor, Trade & NAFTA Office, Embassy of Mexico, Washington D.C. The gentleman from Canada told how a company in Alberta does all of the Grizzly logos for the University of Montana at Missoula and how they are striving to capitalize on other markets like that in Montana! Great for Alberta, not good for Montana! As I sat there, I wondered how many companies were offered the job in Montana borders, but were refused, because of the bang for the buck of the money exchange. Also ran through my mind the thought of how many taxes these Canadian companies pay to our State and our Nation as our State Budget is in the toilet and our National Balance of Trade is at over a billion dollars a day defecit!!

During the conference, I visited with with a College official who said that next year the conference needed to recruit more Canadian speakers. My thought were to get a few of the Mom and Pop Business owners in the State that had closed in the last ten years and have them get up and give a message to those eager, young students who were being filled full of hype about niche markets and foreign imports!

The Mexican spoke in very broken English, about how their country also liked trading with the USA and he encouraged American investment in Mexico, American development in Mexico and to buy Mexican products to stimulate the Mexican economy! My thoughts were running again as I wondered how much money the U.S. of A. has loaned Mexico and other Latin American countries, and how much of that has been paid back??? Wanted to ask him that question, but he probably would have answered it the same way as he answered my question about a recent article that I had read that stated that "U.S. Farmers have driven Mexican livestock and grain farmers out of business, by importing below cost of production goods into Mexico" This was a January 23, 2003 article and I have asked several "experts", but no one including the Mexican gentleman could give me an answer. The Mexican answer was, " I do not understand what you are talking about!" No comprende I guess!! My theory on this statement is that I think our government is subsidizing big business to sell at below cost into Mexico to break their middle class, much as they are doing the same to our middle class, only by using the "Trade Agreements that are so beneficial to the middle class of America" by purchasing cheap, below-cost-of-production foreign goods, instead of buying American made goods, which generate local and State Taxes! But this is only my theory and I am not "an expert!"

In the afternoon, there was more Sessions: The effects of Free Trade Agreements on Cattle Producers; International Finance; and Using the Internet to Reach Learners Around the Globe. I attended the Cattle Producers meeting, not because I have cattle, but I can relate to some of their waste product and I figured the International Finance wasn't for me, since I have some Canadian Currency and my bank says they won't take it, the store won't take it, the bum on skid row doesn't want it, so I scratch my head and wonder why they don't want their money, but we will take all of their production and flood our markets with it! The Internet aspect looked interesting, but opted for the livestock.

The Livestock Session, "The Effects of Free Trade Agreements on Cattle Producers" was very interesting. The panel consisted of an introductory presentation by Todd Drennan, Group Leader for Dairy, Livestock & Poultry--Foreign Agriculture Services, Washington D.C. The talks had a time limit and personally wished he would have foregone his to given to a couple of the other speakers, but the bureaucracy rules! The panelists consisted of Sergio Soto, one of the speakers at lunch; Darren Chase, Manager of Strategic Information Services Unit, Alberta, Food & Rural Development from Edmonton, Alberta; Bob Hanson, Vice President of the Montana Farm Bureau, cattle rancher from White Sulphur Springs, Montana; Dennis McDonald, Chairman, R-Calf USA Trade Committee from Melville, Montana; and Tom McDonnell, Director of the Natural Resources and Policy, American Sheep Institute from Wheatland, Colorado.

The panel had their opinions, a few of which I did not think were very helpful to explain my demise in the agricultural world. Welcoming the imports into the livestock channels of the U.S. was encouraged by all but two panelists, Tom McDonnell and Dennis McDonald!

Mr. Drennan, who although he deals with Dairy and Livestock and Poultry, I doubt if he has ever had any "barnyard moss" of any kind on that 3-piece suit or those wing tipped shoes, but he says that NAFTA is a success, world beef is expected to rise, the U.S. cannot supply all of it's own beef needs, where he showed graphs showing foreign beef imports increasing in the mid-eighties (about the time of our infamous NAFTA, GATT, etc) and I think he failed to mention that probably was about the time beef started to decline, price-wise, maybe due to foreign imports. It made me wonder why he didn't mention, if beef profits went down, wouldn't that create less of a desire to raise the product??? It seems to work that way for me on the wheat side of things, but we were to be able to let this be discussed in the questions and answers!!!! (Talk is pretty cheap at this point). Mr. Drennan also pointed out that Australia could become the number 1 exporter of beef in the world! Wow, this is great, but who is paying the taxes to Helena and D.C. as we decline in exports world-wide? Remember folks it takes profit to pay taxes in order to keep our State and Nation with their head above water and at the present not much is sticking out!

Probably, any of you reading this article, can assume that I, personally was disappointed with the College, and to further irritate me, I went to the Friday morning session and listened to Arnie Sherman, the Executive Director of the Montana World Trade Center, who his bio states that he has maintained continuous relationships with top diplomatic, political and commercial leaders of emerging markets around the world. He was appointed Executivbe Director of the Montana World Trade Center and Adjunct Professor of the School of Business Administration at The University of Montana in March of 1997, received the Governor's Export Advocate of the year Award in 1999 and is currently the leader of Montana's development of technology for rural and small business commercial applications. He had quite a few remarks, but the one that "raised my hackels" was when he said, "Folks, we have to forget about agriculture, timber, livestock, mining and the such in the work force in Montana! They are only 5% of the work force and we must concentrate on niche markets and "value-added"! Wow, would I like to give him an award! This seems to be the mentality of Bozeman, Helena and all other Montana "experts" and I think that we as Montana citizens, taxpayers and "grunts" for these educated "experts" should step forward and demand that as taxpayers and citizens, we "get no respect" as the great Rodney Dangerfield made light of.

We, Montanas' backbone, the working class, the middle class, are being destroyed by the Jim Jones mentality of our peers, not by telling us to drink the lethal Kool-aid, but by taking our livelihood away from us, destroying what our forefathers worked so hard and diligently for, destorying our laws that have made us "Proud to Be An American" for decades! Our hope for "Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness" is being snuffed out, our next generation stifled and not given the chance to continue, while selling out our neighbors and ourselves to protect an unknown foreigner, whose currency creates a product that is worshiped and hoarded by big U.S. businesses and greedy individuals who have no respect for heritage, family roots or anything that is connected with independent, individual goals, dreams and livelihoods.

When I returned home, my local paper, The Great Falls Tribune, had an article "Small Business Drives Treasure State's Economy" by Beth Britton, where they state that 98 percent of the State business is catagorized as small and these firms create the vast majority of jobs in the State. They go on to state that small business is the backbone of the State's economy! Wow, what a change from the couple of days in Billings with the experts! Seems all they want is foreign, whether North or South, and I did not once hear the words "Small Business". Why don't we try to encourage small, instead of big. It seems all the tax breaks for the past decade and a half have gone to the big! Any incentives go to the big.

When the meat packing plant at Choteau burnt down, there was no one there to offer incentives to rebuild. That plant employed 30 families and covered a big area that provided slaughter facilities for many ranchers and hog-men in a large area of North-Central Montana, but no one wined and dined them, no one gave them any "good deal". All the help those families got was an un-employment check till the time ran out!! I am sure the same thing happened for the 300 families that were put out of business in Libby, thanks to cheap, foreign imports.

I say it is time for the "little-guys" in Montana to stand up and fight and I know two guys who are fighting right now for you and they were at the Seminar in Billings, "Passport to Success" , trying to make your livelihood succeed, while others there were promoting our cheap, foreign markets. To me this makes as much sense as saying a commodity is "value-added" to agriculture, when the profits never trickle down to the "little-guy"! Big business always sees it stops there.

Those two guys that are trying to make a difference are:

Dennis McDonald
Chairman, R-Calf USA Trade Committee
856 Tony Creek Road
Melville, Montana 59055
phone: (406) 537-2333

Tom McDonnell
Director, Natural Resources and Policy
American Sheep Institute
4570 Palmer Canyon Road
Wheatland, Colorado 82201
phone: (307) 322-4424

A few weeks ago, I went South, with our custom cutter, to Vernon, Texas and back, visiting farmers along the way. I have made this trip 3 years in a row and I can give names, addresses, etc. of many people between home and Texas. We all have the same problems in common, the main one being price. Along with the price comes the frustration that even though we have had a drought, which a lot of the nation was involved in, the price of grain has plummeted, nearly two dollars a bushel, while Canada and Australia say that they will not export, because they too are in a drought, but big business controls the market enough to capitalize on the cheap foreign markets, importing wheat from France and other countries at below cost of production, while hogs and cattle are placed in feedlots at below cost prices and nothing is done in Washington and Helena, except to continue to encourage this type of trading practice, while you and I are struggling to make ends meet, fearing that our bankers will not refinance us, but big business boasts in local papers of record quarterly profits.

I urge every one of you to write your Legeslative Constituent, your College Leaders, who promote this, and ask them why???? If anyone who reads this article and disagrees with my views, I would invite you to e-mail me your interpretation of the meeting last week in Billings or write to your local paper, Ag-Weeklies, or major Ag Papers and give them your views.

I wonder how many of the attendants know what the Morrill Act is and I sat wondering if this act was still being followed by our Colleges in Montana, since I always condisdered MSU-Bozeman a land grant college. Following are some excerpts from the Morrill Act:


Act of August 30, 1890, ch. 841, 26 Stat. 417, 7 U.S.C. 322 et seq.

Chap. 841.--AN ACT To apply a portion of the proceeds of the public lands to the more complete endowment and support of the colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts established under the provisions of an act of Congress approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two.

Provided, That said colleges may use a portion of this money for providing courses for the special preparation of instructors for teaching the elements of agriculture and the mechanic arts

I wonder if we are benefiting agriculture and mechanical arts in our State, when we encourage foreign production over our own State production.

Thanks and if I am still farming, I plan to attend next years' conference to see if we are still giving away our "turf", but I won't be drinking the Kool-Aid.


Gary Gollehon
903 Hells Gulch Road
Brady, Montana 59416
phone: 406-627-2419