BILLINGS – Montana’s sheep industry is thankful to have a new sheep extension specialist at Montana State University after several years without one. And the man selected is excited to help build a new legacy for the next generation of sheep producers.
“The sheep industry has been very good to me through the years both personally and academically,” said MSU Extension Sheep Specialist Brent Roeder. “So, some of it is you reach a stage in your life where you don’t see anyone stepping up for a position to help build that legacy for the next generation.”
Roeder is no stranger to the lamb and wool industry in Montana. Prior to beginning his new position at MSU in November, he served as an agriculture and natural resources extension agent in Teton County. He says he recognizes the vital role his position plays to Montana’s sheep industry.
“We’re at a little bit of a crossroads in the sheep industry,” said Roeder. “We’ve definitely had a resurgence in the wool industry and definitely more people interested in a source-verified, USA-made product. So, that lends itself well to the value-added products that Montana is really well known for. That and we know there’s going to be some demographic changes in lamb consumption.”
Sheep producers like Mike Green of Cohagen say Roeder brings a wealth of both academic and real-life experience to MSU’s sheep and wool program.
“I was really thrilled to see Brent get the job,” said Green. “He got his master’s there and even though he’s from Texas, we’ll give him one pass on that. But he’ll do a great job.”
Roeder hopes his knowledge, expertise and relationships are just the right ingredients to help ranchers increase their sheep numbers in Montana.
“So, moving forward it’s a matter of just educating people and trying to get our production numbers up a little bit,” said Roeder. “We’ve been stagnant on lambs produced in the state for almost 20 years now. It would be nice to try to move that number a little bit.”
Without question, Roeder’s background in production, research and extension is an asset to everyone involved with Montana’s sheep industry.
One of the big priorities that Roeder has set for 2019 is working with organizations like the Montana Wool Growers Association to securing funding for MSU’s Wool Lab in the 2019 Legislative Session in Helena.
-Russell Nemetz reporting for MTN News