Montana Premium Processing Cooperative receives $292K grant
Money to support new USDA-inspected Havre facility
Last updated 11/9/2022 at 1:11pm
Montana Farmers Union
A new meat processing cooperative in Havre has received nearly $292,000 in Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program funding.
Montana Premium Processing Cooperative is set to formally open its doors with a grand opening Nov. 21, and the federal funds will help cover equipment costs and other startup costs, said Matt Rains, chief of staff for Montana Farmers Union, which has been instrumental in getting the co-op operational.
“It’s a really key thing to not burden the co-op with paying loan interest in the first few years of operation. It will help keep prices down and salaries up and allow us to start looking at expansion options sooner,” Rains said.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who helped negotiate the American Rescue Plan Act that provided the funding and was the only Montana statewide official who supported the legislation, praised the award.
“As someone who still runs a family farm to this day, I know folks in agriculture play an important role in our state’s economy and way of life,” Tester said in a press release. “Expanding in-state meat processing capacity will not only give Montana producers a competitive edge, but also drive down costs for consumers at the meat counter. Investments like these are a win-win, and I’ll keep standing up for Montana by supporting local ventures like the Montana Premium Processing Cooperative.”
“Montana producers understand the importance of state and local processing plants when it comes to cutting costs and increasing efficiency,” Montana Farmers Union President Walt Schweitzer said in a release. “Thanks to this grant, the Farmers Union will be able to expand our meat processing project in Havre and that means giving Montana producers more power in the marketplace and making sure capitalism is working properly. We’re grateful for this funding and commend Sen. Tester for his continued efforts to support small ranchers and packers here in the Treasure State.”
MPPC is a member-owned cooperative that has been formed in partnership with Montana Farmers Union and Farmers Union Industries. The USDA-inspected facility provides live-to-package processing for cattle, hog, sheep and eventually bison to meet the needs of Montana producers and bolster food security by supporting a hoof-to-plate business model for local ranchers.
Already, the cooperative has more than 50 members and is expected to continue to grow, with the ultimate goal of being a template for creating similar cooperatives around the state.
“We’re a co-op of Montana producers, which allows members to make decisions and to keep members at the heart of everything we do — and which keeps the entire value of this grant for Montana producers and communities,” Rains said.
The Meat and Poultry Expansion Program funding is an example of how the Biden-Harris administration and the USDA are working to strengthen agriculture. MPPEP delivers on President Biden‘s call to increase competition across the economy to help lower costs for American families. The funding announced this week will increase meat and poultry processing capacity, which in turn increases competition, supports producer income, and strengthens the food supply chain to lower costs for working families and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas, according to a USDA release.
“It is a great thing for rural communities across America,” Rains said, adding he’s thankful for the funding and what it means for MPPC but also for how it is increasing the resiliency of the local food system.
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew applauded the first round of federal funding as a step toward placing profitability back in the hands of farmers and ranchers.
“More competition across the ag economy is a good thing and it’s great to see Secretary Vilsack and the administration making diversified, local and regional food systems a priority,” Larew said.
For more information about the Montana Premium Processing Cooperative and how to become a member, people can go to http://www.mtpremiumprocessing.com or call Rains at 406-899-2644.