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Montana Wool Growers Association

P.O. Box 1693 Helena, MT  59624       406-442-1330   mwga@mtsheep.org

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132th ANNUAL MONTANA WOOL GROWERS CONVENTION


December 3-5, 2015


Billings Hotel and Convention Center - Billings, MT.



Calendar has been updated



COME JOIN US AT THE MWGA 2015 CONVENTION

2015 MWGA CONVENTION DEC 4TH AND 5TH

BILLINGS HOTEL AND CONVENTION CENTER IN BILLINGS, MONTANA

2015 CONVENTION INFORMATION UPDATED.

2015 CONVENTION LETTER

October 31, 2015


Dear Montana Woolgrowers and Industry Partners:


The 132nd Annual Montana Woolgrowers Convention will be held at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center on December 4th and 5th.   We’re excited to again be back at the Billings Hotel after a successful event last year.  I think everyone was impressed with the meals and service.  The sound issues and have been resolved and I look forward to a great NFR social at the banquet.  One issue we’ve had to deal with this year is the overlap of several other conventions. Due to a scheduling conflict, the Montana Stockgrowers Convention will be at the Billings Metra the same weekend.  They have made every effort to ensure there would be no conflict with presenters and I thank them for that.  The Montana Grain Growers will also be meeting in Great Falls earlier in the week and the Montana Cattlemen’s Association will be meeting during our convention in separate rooms, but will join us for the Montana Ag Safety program.  There have been a number of changes at Montana State University over the past year and we wanted to highlight those changes at this convention.  As some of you are aware, this will be my last event as MWGA Executive Secretary.  At the writing of this letter, the board is in the process of hiring a new Executive Secretary and he or she will be at convention.  I look forward to continuing to work with MWGA in my new position as the MSU Extension Ag Agent in Teton County.


The convention will start on Thursday afternoon with an MWGA board meeting and Center of the Nation President’s Reception in the Lounge of the Billings Hotel.  At 8 AM on Friday morning, Laura Welker will be handling registration for us again and Sara Hollenbeck will be organizing the vendors.  The first session at 9 AM will be an update on the lawsuit over sheep grazing in the Gravelly Mountains.  Jim Brown and John Helle will discuss how environmental groups are misusing the Equal Access to Justice Act for funding their organizations.  I’ve invited Dr. Maggie Highland from the USDA Animal Disease Research Center in Pullman, WA to give an update on Bighorn and Bison disease issues.  We’ll also have an update on the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubious, ID from Dr. Bret Taylor.  As many of our members are aware, there has been a concerted effort to shut this station down.  Dr. Charles Boyer, Vice President, Dean of the College of Agriculture, and Director of the Montana Ag Experiment Stations, will be our luncheon speaker.  President Cruzado raised his position to Vice President to highlight the importance of Agriculture in the Montana University System.  After lunch, Dr. Pat Hatfield, Department Head of Animal and Range Sciences, will update us on progress and changes he has made and we’ll also hear from new MSU Extension Sheep Specialist Dr. Whit Stewart and new Montana Wool Lab Director Monica Ebert.  Whit has jumped into the position with both feet since June and we’ve kept him extremely busy and I look forward to everyone getting a chance to meet Monica.  She comes to MSU with a great deal of experience and enthusiasm for the wool industry.  Jim Larson from the Montana Ag Safety Program will wrap up the afternoon with probably the most important talk that unfortunately people take for granted.  The resolutions committees will meet at 4 PM to get input on new resolutions which guide our legislative agenda for the coming year.  The evening will finish with the ever popular waterhole, live auction, and speed shear.


Saturday morning will bring an update on the wool market and the US Dollar which influences our market strongly.  Hopefully Larry will bring his crystal ball again.  John Steuber, Montana Wildlife Services Director, will update attendees on changes to his program and introduce the new Eastern Montana Supervisor Dalin Tidwell.  George Edwards of the Montana Livestock Loss Board will have an update on what is looking to be one of the biggest payout years he’s had since the program started.  We’ve had lots of confirmed Grizzly bear depredations this year.  We’ll probably also discuss the recently released report from the National Agriculture Statistics Service concerning the national survey on non-lethal predator management techniques.  Before the coffee break we’ll have an update from the Montana Board of Livestock.  They’ve implemented a large number of changes in the past year and are making progress on a number of issues MWGA and other producer groups have raised with them.  John Lehfeldt, Sheep Representative from Lavina, is the current chair of the board and will be on hand.  As everyone knows from the ASI updates, the industry has struggled over the past several years with lawsuits and the Department of Labor on herder issues.  Erik Lehfeldt is the current President of the Western Plains Agricultural Services and he along with Ken Wixom, Board Member for Western Range Association, will discuss the history, current status, and future of the H2A program.  Dr. Jeff Bader, Director-MSU Extension Service, will discuss the changes he’s made to the help secure and stabilize the extension service in Montana over lunch on Saturday.  After lunch, we’ll have an update form the American Wool Council.  I hear they’re going to draw straws to see who gets the chance as we will have four members of the Council in attendance.  Jack McRae of Jordan and Randy Tunby of Baker were added to the board last year and Ken Wixom of ID and Wade Kopren of SD are co-chairs of the Council.  Ken Wixom, wearer of many hats and marathon runner, will then give an update on ASI’s activities and priorities for the coming year.  Ken is the Region VII representative on ASI’s Executive Board and has done a great job of representing Montana’s interests on a national level.  The Montana Woolgrower Association’s Annual meeting will start at 3 PM.  Major topics this year will be the hiring of a new Executive Secretary and election of new board members.  Dave McEwen of Galata is slated to take over the reins of the organization.  We will be giving away one of the ASI commemorative wool blankets during the meeting, so make sure you attend.  The festivities for Saturday night begin at 6 PM with the start of the silent auction and continue with the banquet and ever popular Montana Make It with Wool Fashion Review.  I’m sure Jean and her volunteers will have a great show again for us this year.  For those who attended the banquet las year, you’ll remember we replaced the dance with a NFR social.  I received several ideas to make this year’s event even better and hope you’ll stick around to enjoy watching the National Finals Rodeo on the big screen with the rest of the avid fans.  Most people will get to head home on Sunday morning, but the board will again meet until around noon.  I certainly look forward to seeing everyone in Billings the first week in December and also meeting the new MWGA Executive Secretary.


Sincerely;


Brent Roeder

MWGA Exec Sec