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Guest Column

Legislature Needs to Support Rural Communities

Now is the time to file to run for any one of several open local and state offices

By Walter Schweitzer

Before you vote in the 2024 election you should evaluate how your legislator voted in 2023. Did they vote to support rural Montanans and family farms and ranches, or did they vote to support wealthy corporations?

As a grassroots, non-partisan organization, Montana Farmers Union not only advocated for legislation to strengthen family farms and ranches and rural communities, but also kept tabs on which legislators put their vote where their mouths were. Report cards for legislators from different regions of the state are available online at www.montanafarmersunion.com for anyone to see.

While you’re looking at the report cards, start by checking how legislators voted to disperse the more than $2 billion surplus that was the result of billions of dollars invested in Montana from the Infrastructure Act of 2021, American Rescue Plan Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. These were one-time investments that improved the health of the local economy. If the Legislature had handled this surplus with an eye towards Montana’s future and invested it into communities, it could have had long term positive impact for generations. Instead, this opportunity was squandered on tax cuts for the wealthiest at the expense of public schools, rural nursing homes and the majority of property tax payers.

Without a change in leadership at the Legislature, they will continue to ignore the needs of our rural communities.

The next Legislature needs to be run by more people who support rural communities, farms and ranches. If you’re left wondering if your current legislators fit that bill, go to www.montanafarmersunion.com to check out how legislators voted in 2023 on issues critical to rural Montana.

Rural Montana needs leaders who will stand up for your communities by making needed investments. Rural Montana needs leaders who will support family farms by voting for their right to repair their equipment and provide consumers the option to buy U.S. beef by voting for mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling.

Now is the time to file to run for any one of several open local and state offices. Go to https://sosmt.gov/elections/filing/ to learn more and to check out the listing of candidates who already have filed. If the people on the list don’t measure up to what our rural communities deserve and you support Montana and its family farmers and ranchers, consider adding your name to the list.  We need your help.

Walter Schweitzer is the president of the Montana Farmers Union.

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