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Grassroots Family Ag Group Marks 50 Years in MT

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021   

BILLINGS, Mont. - A grassroots organization that stands up for family agriculture in Montana is celebrating 50 years this week - and looking toward defending the state from new threats.

Northern Plains Resource Council will hold its 50th annual meeting on Friday and Saturday. Friday's keynote speaker will be Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy.

Hayhoe said it's important to talk about shared values when speaking with people about climate change.

"We have to start where people are at, start with what matters to people," she said. "Is it their farm or their land? Is it their kids? Is it the fact that they're passionate about fishing or skiing? What is it that they love? And for me a big part of why I care is my faith. I'm a Christian and that's why I care about climate change."

Session topics for the meeting will include methane gas plant proposals in Montana and corporate consolidation in agriculture. Folks can register for the meeting through noon on Friday.

Another session at the conference will explore Northern Plains' history, including protecting landowners and ranchers from unchecked strip mining and other expansive energy projects in Montana.

"Northern Plains was started to protect the land and the air and the water of Montana and Montanans' family agriculture, and we're still doing it," said Mary Fitzpatrick, a member and former chair of the organization. "The threats have changed and, unfortunately, sometimes expanded, but that's what we've been doing for 50 years and we'll be doing it for the next 50 years."

Hayhoe said climate change presents a major challenge to Montana and the rest of the world, but added that she doesn't believe people should feel despair.

"There's all kinds of solutions that first of all can help Montana transition off coal and gas and oil to clean sources of energy," she said. "There are also solutions that help to pull carbon out of the atmosphere where we don't want it and put it back in the soil and ecosystems where we do."

Disclosure: Northern Plains Resource Council contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Rural/Farming. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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