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Gianforte highlights ag businesses

Thompson Falls visit part of governor's 56-county tour

Governor Greg Gianforte was in Thompson Falls last week as part of his 56-county tour highlighting local businesses that serve the agricultural community.

Gianforte and his wife Susan stopped for lunch at Sanders County Feed on Wednesday, where the governor welcomed owners Wayne and JP Ducote to Thompson Falls. "We have enough for a town hall," Gianforte joked when he addressed the crowd of about two dozen residents at the feed store. "Being the 25th governor of Montana is the greatest honor of my life. We want to see all Montanans prosper."

The governor congratulated the Ducotes on their small business, which opened in the fall of 2021. "It's great to be here in Thompson Falls," he said. "Small business is the backbone of the state." Gianforte then addressed questions from the audience, including questions about wildfires and forest management from Rep. Paul Fielder of Thompson Falls. "We look a little better than last year," Gianforte said, noting that state and federal agencies met recently for a fire briefing meeting. He said he asked the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to adopt the practice of taking aggressive action when it comes to wildfires. He also said that in Sanders County, it will take the state and federal government working together to effectively manage fires and forest land. "We're going to push to adopt a Montana strategy for fighting fires, not a Forest Service strategy."

Later Wednesday, Gianforte traveled to Libby, where he announced a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) agreement to manage lands within the Kootenai National Forest. Gianforte said the GNA is the largest in the state and will treat up to 10,0000 acres per year over a seven-year period. "It's going to provide better habitat and better access to roads," Gianforte said. "We need to do one in Sanders County."

Gianforte also addressed a question about election integrity. "I think our elections are secure. Thank being said, I think we can do better."

In regard to small businesses, Gianforte said he has provided red tape relief by rewriting regulations and eliminating excessive ones. "We have boards that there's no reason for. Did you know we have a board that oversees hearing aid dispensers? I don't think we need that," he stated. He also said the state is building employer and industry specific pipelines for workforce training. The governor told The Ledger that he is working to bring families to Montana and inviting Montanans to come home to work and live. He said his favorite part of the 56-county tour was "getting out of Helena and meeting with local businesses. Hearing from people like this helps me do a better job."

The Ducotes thanked the community for supporting their business. "They have embraced the store. The community has given us the initiative to grow the businesses," Wayne Ducote said. JP added that their top sales items include hay, dog food and baby chicks. She said they have sold 1,700 chicks this spring. "What a dream come true," JP said of the governor's visit. "We're honored and flattered."

 

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