Montana Governor Greg Gianforte was on the KGVO Talk Back program on Wednesday taking calls from listeners. He said the combination of extreme drought and wildfires puts Montana in a difficult spot.

“I was up in Malta here just a little while back on a ranch and just to add insult to injury, though there was a limited hay production there, then the grasshoppers came in and ate it and literally the field was just licked off,” said Gianforte. “We are starting to see beef producers selling down their herds. This is not a good sign. The markets are not as strong as we'd like them to be. This is why I've reached out to the USDA the Secretary and said, we need to designate every county in Montana as a drought emergency. This frees up some federal programs to help with relief for our producers.”

Gianforte said fires are consuming a large part of Montana.

“We're in tough shape,” he said. “We have 75 active fires burning in the state. Today, many of them have not been contained at all. We're approaching 500,000 acres burned in Montana.”

Gianforte referenced a ZOOM meeting he had with President Biden, Vice President Harris and several other western governors in which he related his conversation with the president.

“We spent about an hour and 15 minutes with the President along with six other western state governors,” he said. “He wanted to know what forest management was, and I was able to answer that. I was really pushing for two things. One was cooperation from federal agencies on both active forest management so we can get back and to remove excess fuels and bring health back to our forests. Then, I asked for a commitment that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and all federal agencies would work with us on aggressive initial attack related to fires.”

CPA Walt Kero was in the studio during the governor’s visit, and asked about taxes in Montana.

“Everybody wants to lower taxes you know, and, and we're working on that,” he said. “We brought the top income tax rate down from 6.9 percent to 6.5 percent. If I had the pleasure of serving eight years I'd like to see the top rate which most Montanans pay be under 5 percent. That'll give relief to an awful lot of folks.”

Gianforte has committed to answering questions from KGVO listeners once a month.


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