Schweitzer to address stockgrowers organization
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Gov. Brian Schweitzer has accepted an invitation to deliver the keynote speech at the Montana Stockgrowers Association convention. T h e c o n s e r v a t i v e - l e a n i n g Stockgrowers have been at loggerheads with Schweitzer over livestock issues since his 2004 election, but an apology by group president Tom Hougen in October has led to some reconciliation. "We're obviously pleased that the governor has accepted our invitation," said Errol Rice, S t o c k - growers vice president. S c h we i t - zer's speech is s c h e d u l e d fo r noon Friday at the Crowne Plaza. The group's 125th annual meeting runs Thursday through Sunday in Billings. Schweitzer said he would discuss several challenges ranchers face, including low market prices, brucellosis management and sportsmen access issues. The latter two were sticking points between him and the stockgrowers. "I'm going to talk about the challenges and opportunities, and some of the challenges are opportunities in disguise," Schweitzer said. The Stockgrowers took issue with Schweitzer's plan for dealing with bison in Yellowstone National Park when the governor proposed a special management area for the infectious disease brucellosis. Th e p l a n wo r ke d, b e c a u s e Montana's brucellosis-free status was restored by the federal government last spring. But many Stockgrowers felt ranchers in the area around Yellowstone were unfairly branded as a brucellosis risk.