Kicking off Montana Agriculture Month, Governor Greg Gianforte today visited a multi-generational family sheep ranch near Dillon.
“At their ranch in southwest Montana, the Helles raise thousands of sheep, bringing sustainable, high quality, 100% Montana grown Merino Wool to market,” Gov. Gianforte said.
“To keep family operations like this one running for future generations, we’ll continue to promote and invest in value-added ag so producers can capture more of the tremendous value they create.”
With wool sourced from their Rambouillet herd, the Helles cofounded Duckworth, a Merino Wool products clothing company. While at the ranch, the governor sheared an ewe, taking part in the first step of the company’s Sheep to Shelf process.
Gov. Gianforte shears an ewe at the Helle Rambouillet Shear 'N Shred event
Evan Helle, a fourth-generation sheep rancher and son of Duckworth co-founder and head rancher, John Helle, led the group in a shearing demonstration.
“People want to know where their clothing comes from, and we had all the tools in place to be able to start a company with products made in the USA from Sheep to Shelf,” Helle said.
Working with 23 factory partners in 12 states, Duckworth is rebuilding the American textile industry from the bottom up, Helle explained.
Director of Agriculture Christy Clark, who attended the shearing with the governor, added, “Today was a great opportunity to highlight entrepreneurial activity in our state specific to agriculture. Additionally, having the opportunity to highlight domestic supply chain strengths coming out of a 4th generation sheep ranch is a story that we hope inspires other producers in the state to keep pushing value added agriculture forward."
After the shearing, Gov. Gianforte met with members of the Helle family and Duckworth representatives.
Earlier this week, Gov. Gianforte proclaimed March 2023 as Montana Agriculture Month, March 19-25, 2023 as Montana Agriculture Week, and March 21, 2023, as Montana Agriculture Day.