Senate Joint Resolution No. 4
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Joint Resolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the state of Montana requesting that an appropriate interim committee study the challenges confronting and opportunities emerging for family farming and ranching in Montana; and requiring the committee to report its findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
WHEREAS, the tradition of family farming and ranching in Montana is increasingly threatened by factors not associated with agriculture; and
WHEREAS, the escalating cost of agricultural land is a barrier to new family farming and ranching operations and to the continuance of long-established family farming and ranching operations; and
WHEREAS, the promotion and preservation of family farming and ranching extends beyond romantic and noble ideals to the economic bedrock of Montana; and
WHEREAS, there exists a strong interdependence and economic synergy among Montana's family farms and ranches, commercial agricultural entities, financial institutions, main street businesses, state and local governments, including schools and universities, and others; and
WHEREAS, an exploration of the challenges facing family farming and ranching in Montana may lead to the identification of a range of opportunities for establishing new and preserving existing family farms and ranches in Montana.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
That an appropriate interim committee be assigned to conduct a focused study of family farming and ranching in Montana with the broad purposes of:
(1) developing an understanding of and an appreciation for the economic, environmental, cultural, and social importance of family farming and ranching;
(2) discerning the economic factors confronting the establishment, continuation, and enhancement of family farming and ranching in Montana; and
(3) identifying challenges and opportunities related to the establishment, continuation, and enhancement of family farms and ranches in Montana.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee maintain as its primary focus:
(1) the factors of escalating agricultural land values and the barriers and destabilizing influences to family farming and ranching that result from escalating land values;
(2) options for mitigating the barriers and destabilizing influences of escalating agricultural land values, including:
(a) alternatives to current tax provisions and land use regulations;
(b) the potential for greater use of conservation easements; and
(c) establishing or enhancing private, public, or joint private-public approaches to minimize debt service costs associated with establishing, continuing, or enhancing family farms and ranches in Montana; and
(3) options for enhancing the economic stability and vitality of family farms and ranches in Montana, including:
(a) the roles and functions of the state agricultural experiment stations and other services available or potentially available through the Montana University System; and
(b) public policies affecting family farm and ranch economics, especially federal agricultural policies, and opportunities for adding value to and exporting Montana's agricultural products.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee:
(1) may request assistance from:
(a) the personnel of agencies of state and local governments, including the Montana University System;
(b) private entities that are integrally associated with or affected by family farming and ranching in Montana; and
(c) other persons who may have relevant information about or insights to family farming and ranching in Montana; and
(2) shall prepare a report of its findings, conclusions, options for further consideration, and recommendations, including legislation if advisable, to the Governor and the 56th Legislature.