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Keeping the Family Ranch in the Family will Keynote Ranchers’ Forum

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Society for Range Management has made special provisions this year to offer its annual Ranchers’ Forum nationally by webinar, announced Forum coordinator Tom Platt of Washington State University Extension in Davenport, Wash. The Ranchers’ Forum is scheduled for January 31 as part of SRM’s annual meeting in Spokane. The Forum will focus on three topics: ranch succession, crooked calf syndrome, and sage grouse.

The keynote presentation, “Keeping the Family Ranch in the Family,” will be made by Dr. Ron Hanson of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Hanson is sought by farm groups throughout rural America for his humorous, thought provoking, and instructive presentations. He will address “what if” family issues of passing a ranching operation from one generation to the next while avoiding personal conflicts, feuds, and a mess of legal problems when settling the family estate. Hanson will spice his presentation with tips on family communications and multi-generational ranching.

“Crooked Calf Syndrome in Washington’s Channeled Scablands and Beyond” will be addressed by Dr. Clive Gay, recently retired from Washington State University, eastern Washington rancher Roy Clinesmith, and Dr. Kip Panter of USDA’s Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah. Crooked calf syndrome is a lupine-induced deformity that plagues Washington ranches sporadically. Serious outbreaks occur about once a decade when upwards of 50 percent of a ranch’s calf crop may be deformed. Ranches in other geographical pockets of the West and Pacific Northwest are similarly affected. Gay will give an overview of Crooked Calf Syndrome in Washington and will discuss year to year and species variations in lupine toxicity. Clinesmith, who ranches in the middle of Washington’s crooked calf country, will describe outbreaks on his ranch and how he attempts to steer clear of them. Panter will describe the history of Crooked Calf research at PPRL and discuss important research findings regarding lupine toxins, how they work, cattle foraging behavior and taste preferences for lupine, and strategies to reduce Crooked Calf Syndrome.

The Ranchers’ Forum will conclude with the topic, “Sage Grouse: Could this Bird be the Rancher’s Spotted Owl?” Dr. Mike Schroeder of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will describe biological and ecological needs of sage grouse. Jessica Ferrell of Marten Law in Seattle, will explain the Endangered Species Act as it relates to sage grouse. The Sage Grouse Initiative, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s recent initiative to conserve sage grouse habitat through sustainable ranching, will be addressed jointly by NRCS SGI coordinator Tim Griffiths of Bozeman, Mont. and SGI science advisor Dr. David Naugle of the University of Montana, Missoula.

Platt said that ranchers and others interested in these topics can attend on site in Spokane or participate by webinar. The January 31 Forum will run from 8:45 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. Mail in registration form, flier, or on-line registration is available at Registration fee is $60 for individuals on-site or via webinar. For those wishing to participate in a group setting via webinar, for example a cattle producers’ association or grazing association, group registration is $400 per location with unlimited audience size. There is a 25 percent surcharge for late registration after December 18.

For more information or for accommodation of special need, contact Tom Platt at 509-725-4171, Washington State University programs are offered without discrimination.


Media Contacts

Tom Platt, WSU Extension Educator, 509-725-4171;