Montana Wool Growers Association

P.O. Box 1693 Helena, MT  59624       406-442-1330


December 5-6, 2014

Billings Hotel and Convention Center - Billings, MT.



2014 Convention Pre-registration Form - PDF format

2014 Convention Brochure - PDF format

2014 Vendor Registration Form - PDF format

October 21, 2014

Dear Montana Woolgrowers and Industry Partners:

The 131st Annual Montana Woolgrowers Convention will be held at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center on December 5th and 6th.   We’re excited to back at the Billings Hotel after several years absence and a multimillion dollar renovation.  The rooms are have been completely redesigned and yes there is an abundance of hot water with the new infrastructure improvements.  The convention will start on Thursday afternoon with an MWGA board meeting and Center of the Nation President’s Reception.  The Livestock Loss Board will also be holding a board meeting at the motel on Thursday afternoon.  I’m hoping the NOAA winter weather forecast will be correct in calling for a warmer December than last year.

The Friday morning session begins with a discussion on starting wool and lamb value added businesses in Montana and any problems or successes that were not expected.  Harv VanWagoner of Sweetgrass Natural Lamb, Dave Scott of Highland Lamb, and John Helle of Duckworth will explain what opportunities they saw to develop their businesses.  Ben Lehfeldt and Betty Sampsel will update producers on the activities of the American Lamb Board and progress on the Industry Road Map.  We will have updates on the numerous changes in leadership and faculty at Montana State University and   I’m confident the new Sheep Specialist will be in attendance.  The Friday luncheon will include a program recognizing Mrs. Peggy Kelley for all her years of service at MSU, especially working for Dr. Kott for 33 years.  The afternoon session starts with a roundtable discussion on Board of Livestock issues concerning the need to seek appropriations for the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab with Board of Livestock members John Lehfeldt and John Scully invited and MWGA President Greg Wichman.  Les Graham will update the membership on how to stay safe on the ranch and Chase Hibbard will unveil the new GLCI Graze Keeper software program.  This program was developed to replace the popular red book that most ranches use to keep track of animals and pasture grazing.  The fun begins at 6 pm with the ever popular Western Ranch Waterhole and a live auction fundraiser.  While Shane and his crew provide refreshments, you can bid and cheer on your favorite shearer in the speed shear and calcutta.  If you’ve never attended this, you quite possibly might be missing one of the most exciting nights a sheepherder can have in this state.

After a short night, Bruce Barker of Great Plains Wool and Scott Lammers of Center of the Nation will update producers on wool trends.  Predator updates will be given by John Steuber, State Director for Wildlife Services and George Edwards of the Livestock Loss Board.  Henry Hollenbeck will give us an overview of the current lamb market and maybe some guesses on where we’re headed.  After the break, several speakers will give updates on the legislative outlook for the 2015 session and Jim Brown will discuss issues related specifically to MWGA on a state and national level.  A luncheon speaker has not been selected yet, but Larry Pilster and Region VII ASI Board member Ken Wixom of Idaho will provide insight into the American Wool Council and American Sheep Industry Association Activities.  Ken will specifically update us on the Dubious Station situation, Payette Forest litigation, and continuing legal issues with the Dubious Station grazing allotments.  The MWGA annual meeting will start at 3 pm.  As a legislative session is approaching in early 2015, it’s vital that members give input during the meeting on resolutions.  Several committees will be working on resolutions through the convention and they will be submitted for final approval at the annual meeting.  These resolutions are the main guidance Jim and the board have during the legislative session when determining which bills to support or oppose.  The 131st Woolgrower Banquet and Fashion Show kicks off at 6 pm with the opening of the silent auction fundraiser.  After a great lamb meal, you’ll be amazed at the Montana Make It with Wool Fashion Show and Review.  I’m always impressed with the talent and design skills these contestants use to bring our wool to life.  We will be trying something new this year to wrap up the banquet.  As generations change, we have not had a good turnout or participation for the dance over the past few years.  In an effort to cater to changing desires, we will have an NFR Social and Calcutta for the rest of the evening.  Plans are coming together to make this first year a fun and exciting time to watch some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world and do it all in the company of some of the best people in the world.  After another short night, the MWGA board will sponsor a breakfast for past presidents and then onto the final board meeting of the week.  Lamb and wool prices have been holding relatively steady and we’re enjoying a fantastic fall, so I hope you can set aside two days in December to visit some old friends, make some new ones, have a great time at the Western Ranch Waterhole, and catch up on industry issues.  We’ll see you in Billings.


Brent Roeder

MWGA Exec Sec


Weather conditions are looking favorable for the 131st Annual Montana Woolgrowers Convention in Billings, with the long range forecast is calling for highs in the 30’s during convention which will be a big change from last year.  We’ve lined up some great speakers including the Debby Barrett- Senate President, Austin Knudson-Speaker of the House, Jamie Connell-BLM State Director, and Bridger Feuz-UW Livestock Marketing Specialist.  Whit Stewart the future MSU Sheep Specialist will also be on hand for the whole convention along with many familiar faces and old friends to update us on the wool and lamb markets and national issues.  We will be having the speed shear Calcutta on Friday night during the Western Ranch Waterhole and some great lamb meals provided by Montana Natural Lamb and Highland Lamb.  I know everyone is looking forward to the Montana Make it With Wool Fashion Show during the banquet and finish by cheering on our favorite cowboys and girls competing at the NFR.  The lamb market is holding up well and most ranches report lots of fall grass, so plan on taking a few days to spend in Billings, see some old friends, catch up on industry issues, and get some shopping done.  See you in Billings.