Members resign from Montana Board of Livestock

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 16, 2008
by WLJ
Members resign from Montana Board of Livestock

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) regrets to report the early departure of great industry allies, Meg Smith and George Hammond, from the Montana Board of Livestock (MBOL). Smith and Hammond have spent 11-and-a-half years on the board, originally appointed by Gov. Marc Racicot in 1997 and reappointed by Gov. Judy Martz in 2003. Their terms would be up in March 2009, but both decided to leave early, citing major concerns about the direction of the board.

Hammond resigned at the beginning of the MBOL meeting on Sept. 22. During the request for the approval of the chairman’s actions, Hammond refused and stated: “I was appointed to represent the livestock industry to the very best of my abilities,” Hammond said. “I feel that I’ve been circumvented, or this board has been prevented from doing that, possibly through the actions of our chairman or whomever. I don’t think we are representing the livestock industry as I feel I was appointed to do. Having said that, I think this board is dysfunctional and I refuse to be a part of it. I want you to take that as my resignation.”

Smith resigned at the end of the meeting, prior to the public comment time. “I feel prevented from doing the job I was appointed to do on this board.”

Smith said. “I do not feel the board is fulfilling its legal role in a democratic way, and I can no longer serve in good conscience. I will not accept a predicament that requires me, in effect, to pretend to participate as a member of a democratic board. I therefore resign, effective immediately. I deeply regret that the quality of this board’s operation has diminished so severely.”

Several MSGA members, board and staff were present for the meeting. “We are disappointed they are leaving,” said Steve Roth, MSGA’s president, “but we share in their frustrations and support their decisions 100 percent. Right now, the board lacks leadership and is a shadow of its former self. This is a time of crisis in the industry with the recent loss of our brucellosis Class Free status and producers are trying to forge ahead with little guidance from a state agency that is supposed to knowledgeably guide us through.”

MSGA expects that Gov. Schweitzer will move quickly to fill the vacant board positions. — WLJ