Conference addresses poverty in Montana

MSU to host April 7 conference focused on poverty and policy

From MSU News Service
Montana Living _ The Montana State University Initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis will host a public conference focused on poverty and policy April 7 on the MSU campus.

Poverty and Policy: Understanding the causes, consequences, and current programs to address poverty in Montana and the U.S.” will bring together nationally recognized researchers, policymakers and advocates working on the front lines in the fight against poverty to discuss the causes and consequences of poverty and the role of policy and regulation in the fight against poverty nationally, and in Montana in particular. Sessions will focus on both short- and long-term policies, from nutrition and health insurance programs, to the impact of family structure and the roles of education, work and social entrepreneurship in the fight against poverty. 
The conference will be divided into four sessions, including “An Overview of Poverty in Montana and the U.S.;” “The Intersection of Work, Family and Assistance;” “Policy Responses to Poverty – Health and Nutrition Programs;” and “Responses to Poverty Among Particular Groups.”

The conference is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Featured speakers will include George Haynes with MSU Extension and the MSU College of Agriculture; Ann Huff Stevens from the University of California Davis Center for Poverty Research; Ron Haskins from the Brookings Institution and University of North Carolina; W. Bradford Wilcox with the University of Virginia; MSU President Waded Cruzado; Stacy Dean with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Joseph Antos with the American Enterprise Institute; Dick Todd with the Center for Indian Country Development and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; Carla Javits with REDF; and panelists Heather Grenier of the Human Resource Development Council in Bozeman, MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Renee Reijo Pera and MSU student Montana Wilson.

According to Vince Smith, MSU professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, the U.S. poverty rate declined from near 20 percent to near 10 percent in the first few years after President Johnson declared the “War on Poverty” 52 years ago. Yet, progress against poverty since then has been minimal at best, Smith said.

“Despite spending nearly $1 trillion annually on dozens of poverty-reduction programs, the U.S. poverty rate has hovered between 10 and 15 percent for the last 50 years,” Smith said. “Montana is no exception to these national trends, with the latest census data indicating that the state’s poverty rate was 14.6 percent in 2015. Poverty is much higher on Indian reservations in Montana, where more than 1 in 3 people live in poverty.”

Smith said that attendees will leave the conference with a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty, the impact of the myriad policies designed to help the poor and the prospects for effective policies aimed at reducing poverty moving forward.

The conference, which includes lunch, is free for MSU students, faculty and staff, or $10 for members of the community. People who are planning to attend the conference are asked to register by Monday, March 27, so that event organizers have an accurate count for catering purposes.
To learn more or to register, visit Registration and attendance questions may be directed to Tamara Moe at More information about the conference is available by contacting Vince Smith at or Wendy Stock at

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