Big Timber man named MWGA president

A Big Timber man was affirmed president by members of the Montana Wool Growers Association (MWGA) in December. Kevin Halverson, owner of Halverson Ranch, previously served two years as MWGA vice president and was on the board of directors for nearly a decade. 

For his first act as president, Halverson represented Montana at an annual conference of the American Sheep Industry held in San Antonio, Texas earlier this month. He will also preside over quarterly meetings at the state level.  

Halverson said his first priority as president is to hire a new “sheep extension specialist” for the wool lab at Montana State University. The extension specialist analyzes fiber samples and offers advice to wool growers around the country. The position has been vacant for roughly a year, Halverson said. 

Under his leadership, the MWGA will continue to lobby for public grazing permits, which have been targeted by various environmental groups in recent years. In 2015, the Bozeman environmental group, Gallatin Wildlife Association, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service, claiming domestic herds had prevented reintroduction of the bighorn sheep thus violating the Endangered Species Act of 1973. A similar lawsuit in 2014 forced a temporary halt in sheep herding on public land near the Montana-Idaho border. 

Predator control is another priority of the MWGA, which will continue to advocate greater funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Halverson said the group also supports action to have grizzly bears stricken from the endangered species list. 

Halverson Ranch has been in the family since it was homesteaded by Kevin’s great grandfather, who came to Sweet Grass county from Sweden in 1878. While Kevin takes on the job of MWGA president, it will be up to the fifth and sixth generations of Halversons to keep an eye on the farm. 

“It’s an honor, a big honor,” Halverson said of his promotion. “Hopefully I don’t wear out before my two years are over.”  

By CHRIS AIKEN / Pioneer reporter

 

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