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Montana Wool Growers talk industry at sheep shearing competition - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana Wool Growers talk industry at sheep shearing competition

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BILLINGS - The oldest livestock organization in the state finished its 134th annual convention in Billings this weekend.

The Montana Wool Growers Association had speed shearing in a tent outside the Red Lion Hotel & Convention Center on Friday.

Several shearers competed and raised money for the Montana State University sheep shearing school and for fire victims around the state.

Those at the convention defend their herds against predators such as grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves and coyotes. Some talked about other issues in the industry.

"The wool market of all ag commodities, wool is actually in pretty good shape right now,” said Mike Hollenbeck, board member for the wool groers. “The wool market's good.  We have good, robust participation in the wool market right now."

"More than a third of Amercan consumers have never even tried lamb,” said Meg Wortman, American Lamb Board executive director.  “Annual consumption is less than one pound per year. so we've got an uphill battle, we're the underdog, but really we're really working to positioning lamb as an adventurous, flavorful protein alternative."

 "We all believe in free trade, but we also believe it has to be fair  trade,” said Mike Corn, president of the American Sheep Industry.  “We have so many constraints on our industries. and we just say if you're going to bring it in here, you have to play by the same games we have to play and that's what we're asking for."

Shearing the wool from lambs took less than a minute. The wool growers said a full grown sheep may take about three minutes to shear.

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