May 15, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 20

Farm Bureau Dismayed By Governor's Veto Of Bison Bills

The Montana Farm Bureau has expressed strong disappointment in Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s veto of several bills regarding wild bison  The bills had easily passed the House and Senate, but met with the ‘veto’ stamp on the governor’s desk. 

“Montana Farm Bureau worked hard to protect family farms and ranches this session and agriculture’s voice was heard, so we were very dismayed that after all the work the legislature did to address the wild bison issue, the efforts ended up being vetoed,” noted MFBF Lobbyist Nicole Rolf.

Rolf said that at least eight bills regarding control of wild bison were introduced, “which shows that this is an important issue in our state,” said Rolf. She says bills that allowed bison-hunting and provided more details of how landowners and agencies could control migrating bison never made it to the governor’s desk.

“Unfortunately, the three that did make it to the governor were all vetoed,” Rolf laments. “One of those bills would have required FWP and DOL to obtain permission from county commissioners before wild bison could be translocated into their county.  This well written, local control bill made it through the Legislature with flying colors and no amendments but was vetoed by the governor.”

Rolf says one bill introduced by Senator Jim Peterson clarified the definition of “wild” bison or buffalo. “It was amended in the House and Senate, went to a conference committee where Senators and Representatives from both parties worked out a compromise, but was vetoed by the Governor,” she said.

“Likewise, there was a bill which would have required FWP to estimate costs that would be incurred if wild bison damaged private property and made them liable for damages,” Rolf says. “Unfortunately, after a long legislative process to work out all the kinks, it too was vetoed.”

“These vetoed bills would have done a lot of good for farmers, ranchers, and landowners but were all killed by the governor.  Consequently, despite the best efforts of many legislators and other interested parties, yet another Montana Legislative Session has closed without enacting any legislation to protect agriculture from inherent dangers of free roaming bison,” Rolf concludes.

Rebecca Colnar can be reached at 223-4106 or rebeccac@mfbf.org.

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