The Petersons; Montana Ag Power Couple Encourage Unity

 

February 6, 2019

Jess Peterson and his wife Laura with their children.

Jess Peterson and his wife Laura are one of Montana's Power couples in Agriculture working a cow/calf operation in Miles City. They have two wonderful cowgirls, Cadence and Chloe. I got to hear both of them speak at two separate conferences.

According to his bio "Jess Peterson, the President of Western Skies Strategies (WSS), represents the United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) as its Executive Vice President. Peterson and the WSS staff provide USCA a full-time presence in Washington, DC and actively convey the interests of USCA to policymakers. Peterson also serves as a spokesperson for USCA and frequently appears on national media forums and industry panels regarding the interests of member ranchers and farmers.

As a 5th generation rancher and Montana native, Jess Peterson is familiar with the concerns of full-time ranchers. For the past seven years Peterson has successfully represented the interests of thousands of U.S. cattle producers on Capitol Hill and inside the administration to ensure the industry maintains a competitive edge. Jess understands the need to listen to the voices of the countryside, and maintains the bi-weekly "Horn Wrap" conference call to facilitate active dialogue on issues affecting the U.S. cattle industry.


He also manages a cow-calf operation near Miles City, Montana. Continually playing an active role in the management of the ranching operation keeps Peterson aware of the needs and importance of American agriculture and strong in rural communities. Peterson is a proud alumnus of Miles Community College in Miles City, Montana, and of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Peterson was recently recognized as one of Cattle Business Weekly's Top 10 industry leaders Under 40 and named as one of Livestock Market Digest's 25 individuals that is making a difference for the American livestock industry. He was also named as one of Washingtonian Magazine's 40 under 40 lobbyists."

Laura Peterson according to her bio, "is the head of Federal Government and Industry Relations for Syngenta. Before joining Syngenta, she was the Director of Federal Affairs for the National Association of Conservation Districts. She is a member of the Kansas Bar and American Bar Associations and attended George Washington University Law School.

Law School, Laura grew up on a family in Kansas and co-operates an angus cattle herd in eastern Montana with her husband."

Jess believes there is confusion in the countryside. He calls for unity. He believes we need to make our decisions based on working together. According to him we can't get anywhere because we're fighting each other in the countryside. Truth in labeling is one of those areas. We had an opportunity to get it right and mandate definitions that would be put on a voluntary label. We couldn't even agree on definitions.

Jess said, "Everyone knows if you are rating Montana beef we would be rated number one. Florida for example is rated number three. But there is no benefit, no higher premium on quality."

He biggest point is we need to "make sure policies and law coming out of Washington has our finger prints on it!" He encouraged all farmers and ranchers to go to every event Tester, Daines, or Gianforte put on in the state, even if it was clear across the state. Those events need to have a large turn out every single time.

We also need more meat inspectors, so we need to fight to get that accomplished. Temporarily we can still truck cattle 16-18 hours of service for transportation. We need to stay on top of that issue and make sure we flood Washington with information.

Laws must be made to make sure clean meat and fake meat are not allowed to label themselves as meat. Most important of all is we need to emphasize "Cattle compliments the carbon cycle!"

Laura talked about communicating and understanding each other. There are strong opinions on both sides. She did explain the lengthy process of how long it takes to get new chemical approved and the complexities of testing. Her sincerity was clearly understood by everyone. She expressed her deep held believes in conservation as well.

Laura spent time talking about the future of agriculture through the lens of the global industry and high technology. Mentioning 20% of the US economy and 28% of US jobs are linked to food and agriculture. Total food and industry economic impact is at $6.7 trillion.

Although it was a different conference she echoed her husband call for working together, not fighting each other. On her opening slide it said, "If you can read and write, you can do anything." She ended her speech by quoting Einstein. "Don't listen to the person who has the answers. Listen to the person who has the questions."

 
 

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