Water rights legislation discussed at Montana Ag Coalition reception

Canal | Commons Photo
The Montana Farm Bureau Federation attended the recent Montana Ag Coalition reception in Helena and expressed interest and concern over water rights.

The group was happy to know they’re not the only people concerned about the issue. The Ag Coalition is a collective voice for agriculture and combines expertise of several leading agriculture organizations including the Montana Grain Growers, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Farmers Union, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Woolgrowers, Montana Agricultural Business Association and Montana Water Resources Association, a posting on the MFBF website said.

Legislators across party lines and backgrounds also attended to learn more about Montana agriculture policy priorities.

"The pieces of legislation that came before the House Natural Resource Committee this week served as a good example of how the Ag Coalition works together," the release said. "We were able to stand together in unified testimony on each of these issues."

Those issues included House Joint Resolution 3 for an interim study of water right change process, House Bill 124 to require an education program for water commissioners and House Bill 140 to clarify water commissioner appointments. Joint Resolution 3 was heard January 16. This would get an approval for a study of the water right change process in Montana. House Bill 123 requests appointed water commissioners complete one educational program by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in Montana. House Bill 140 was also heard and the bill would add that a user or users may hold around 15 percent of the flow right affected by a decree in order to make a commissioner request appointment.

Several bills have progressed to allow a water court to review certain DNRC decisions including House Bill 48 to clarify a definition of water right change and House Bill 49 to clarify the process for updating water rights transfers.

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Montana Farm Bureau

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