Candidates for Montana's lone seat in the U.S. House will debate rural issues this Saturday. Being done virtually and sponsored by Montana Farmers Union, candidates will appear from their homes and/or offices.
This is the second debate done this way by MFU. The first was last weekend when Gubernatorial candidates took to the virtual stage to discuss topics like healthcare for farmers and ranchers, Country of Origin Labeling and Coronavirus.
Those issues are back on the table this week but so are a handful of others, including the new Farm Bill.
"It is an important race for just that reason. They're going to be participating and writing our new Farm Bill. It's been a long time since Montana had a representative on the Ag committee. I am really hoping that our new congresswoman/man will be looking to get on our ag committee and shape our Farm policy in the next bill, " said Walter Schweitzer, MFU President.
Trade Wars will also be a hot topic hit in Saturday's debate. Schweizter tells Montana Right Now this issue impacts everyone, not just farmers and ranchers.
"The agriculture was severely effected by losing our markets. I am sure hoping that they'll have some ideas on how we get those markets back," said Walter Schweitzer, MFU President.
COVID-19 is still stealing today's headlines and it will be a something to discuss. For Montana's ag industry, this pandemic brought a new light to an old pandemic.
"I think that there has to be an aggressive movement to secure our food supply. One of the ways to do that is to more regionalize our processing and packaging [of] agricultural products. Right now we are all centralized with large multinational plants that have had outbreak and have been forced to shut down, and that has disrupted the supply chain for our food," said Schweitzer.
Democratic candidates Kathleen Williams and Tom Winter will debate first. It will be a 45 minute debate. Candidates get a 90 second opening statement and 1 minute to answer each question. At the end each candidate will get a 60 second closing remark.
Debra Lamm, Joe Dooling, John Evankovich, Mark McGinley, and Corey Stapleton have all agreed to the debate terms. Matt Rosendale has declined the invitation to this debate.
Because of the sheer number of Republican candidates, timing of their debate is a little different.
Republican candidates will debate for 1 hour and 15 minutes. They too, will get 90 seconds for an opening statement and 60 seconds to answer each question. At the end each candidate will get a 60 second closing remark.
Schweitzer says, "It's good to see a debate on issues. It's unfortunate to see candidates agree on everything. The way we all learn more about an issue is if it's argued from both sides. I am hoping we have a debate and not an agreement."
The US House debate moderator is Jim Sargent from Great Falls.
The debate will air at 7 on SWX (199 on Charter) across the state. In addition to that we will stream the debate on our website at 7 in its entirety and rebroadcast on Sunday.
In Billings it will air on NBC (KULR) at 10:35pm. In western and central Montana it will air on FOX at 4pm.
If you missed the Gubernatorial debate from last weekend you can click here to watch it.
Both debates are sponsored by MFU, Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana Cattlemen Association and the United States Cattlemen Association.