BILLINGS — Over the years, Montana’s agriculture industry has been well represented on the national level. And that trend will continue with the recent election of a sheep producer from Lavina to the officer team of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
“I've always been proud to be a sheep producer,” said ASI Secretary/Treasurer Ben Lehfeldt. “Our sheep have allowed us to add more cattle and add more opportunities to our ranch. And I want to make sure the next generation has those same opportunities and not just here, but in the Midwest and the East. There's opportunities abound with targeted grazing and other things that the sheep really offer. So, I want to try to give back and promote those things and enhance those opportunities as an officer.”
He says one of the things ASI continues to work on is developing markets for high-quality American lamb. And despite the lamb market challenges that COVID-19 delivered in 2020, this spring prices are looking a lot better.
“We have some really strong lamb prices, which is really good for the industry,” said Lehfeldt. “Some of our wool prices have yet to move up. As an industry and at ASI, we're working on some solutions for some of those people because the market is there and people want it. We just have to get the whole system working again.”
He says this year’s virtual ASI convention covered markets and more. “We had some really good discussions about genetics, new lamb plants and lamb opportunities for the traditional market and the ethnic market along with E.I.D. tags, which are continuing to build some momentum in producers minds across the U.S,” said Lehfeldt.
He says it’s important that sheep producers speak with a strong and united voice to keep their industry alive for future generations. “From a legislative perspective, it's important that we have ASI and Montana Wool Growers Association advocating for the sheep industry,” said Lehfeldt. “It's important that the funds come from our producers to make sure that we're able to tell our story there.”
For information about the American Sheep Industry Association, visit sheepusa.org.