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Wool lab: Montana State University set to host research facility, wool lab

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On May 16, Montana House Bill 14 secured funds to build a new wool lab for Montana State University (MSU). The $6 million project allows for more advanced research and testing to be completed on the campus.    

Finding funding 

The Montana Wool Growers Association (MWGA), in conjunction with MSU, introduced a bonding bill. The bill, in addition to funding from COVID-19, will allocate $5 million to the project.  

“Governor Gianforte felt House Bill 14, which covered all those facility needs for the university system, was important enough that we can back fill COVID-19 money and make it a cash deal,” explained Dave McEwen, president of the Montana Wool Growers Association.  

On top of this, the government granted MSU and the association the ability to raise an additional $1 million to fully cover project expenses.  

“The legislature was very good to us and very supportive. The president’s office at Montana State University was extremely supportive also,” McEwen shared, giving credit for the success of the bill.  

Updates help producers 

Environmental control and computer security, as well as shipping and receiving samples will be the biggest concerns addressed in the new update. These updates will enhance the research and testing the lab will be able to conduct. The new facilities will also have more up-to-date lab settings and student learning classrooms.  

While the new addition will be full of new and improved equipment, perhaps one of the most unique features of the new facility is the incorporation of the old facility. 

McEwen, appreciative of the history of the wool lab at MSU, said, “One thing we are sure of is the old facility will be moved and hooked up to the new facility – that building is on the National Historic Registry.” 

All of the updates found in the new lab are designed to help sheep producers through Extension. Most importantly, the new facility will have the capability to conduct research to aid in wool production.  

“We will create a use and a need for wool, which in return, trickles down into added value to the wool producers within the state,” said McEwen. 

Parasite control and genome research are just two major areas the new facility will focus on in the future.  

Continuing funding 

While the official plans of the lab are still under advisement, McEwen wants others to be excited about the new changes coming to MSU. 

“We need to emphasize the importance of the lab so we can get the $1 million goal secured and move on,” continued McEwen.  “We would hope things move as fast as they did in the legislature and we get a shovel in the ground very soon.” 

Although no fundraising has begun, the Montana Wool Growers Association is eager to work towards their $1 million goal. 

Reflecting on the progress of the new lab, McEwen says, “I cannot believe the support MSU President Waded Cruzado and her staff have given us in the land grant mission of Montana State and this support is the reason we are building this facility.” 

Savannah Peterson is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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