As part of his efforts to defend Montana’s agricultural producers and reduce consolidation in the packing industry by increasing local meat processing capacity, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured more than $7.8 million dollars in U.S. bailout funds for 30 Montana small businesses, including 17 meat processors. plans and resources for three new US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified meat processing facilities. Hamilton Packing Company will receive $450,000 for expansion, upgrades to state-inspected meat processing equipment and existing retail.
Tester helped negotiate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provided this funding, and he was the only Montana state official to support the legislation. Thanks to ARPA, Montana’s unemployment rate is currently at the lowest rate in state history.
“Production agriculture is Montana’s number one industry and the backbone of our economy, and I am proud to have secured these resources from the U.S. bailout that will support family farmers, ranchers, processors of meat and small businesses in our state,” Tester said. “The consolidation of the meatpacking industry and the anti-competitive behavior of the big four packers is putting our producers out of business and forcing families to pay more for meat at the grocery store. These investments will expand local processing facilities, grow small businesses and support well-paying jobs in Montana communities. »
APRA’s $7,872,418 in targeted funding comes from the $1.25 billion local and state coronavirus tax relief fund tester secured for the state of Montana to respond to the economic effects of the pandemic. These funds are specifically aimed at value-added agricultural projects and small businesses. The list of USDA-recommended recipients who will receive ARPA funds includes:
New USDA certified meat processing facilities:
· $150,000 for Big Sky Processing, LLC (Pray): New USDA Retail/Slaughterhouse in Central Montana
$300,000 for Blue Creek Marbled Meat Co (Billings): new meat slaughter facility under construction for state/USDA inspection
· $450,000 for Nguyen Holdings, Inc dba M&S Meats (Rollins): New USDA inspected meat processing facility; Existing retail
Meat processing prices:
$150,000 for Bear Paw Meats (Havre): expansion, renovations to state-inspected slaughter floor to increase capacity
· $30,286 for BMB Ventures, LLC dba Rawhide Meats (White Sulfur Springs): expansion, portioning of vacuum filling equipment. State inspected, scheduled for USDA inspection.
$140,000 for Butcher Block Specialties (Miles City): expansion, custom exempt meat processing equipment upgrades
$450,000 for Eastern Montana Meats, LLC (Sidney): expansion, upgrade of USDA inspected meat processing equipment
$450,000 for Hamilton Packing Company (Hamilton): expansion, upgrade of state inspected meat processing equipment, existing retail
$150,000 for Meats of Montana (Big Timber): Expansion of USDA inspected retail storefront at Pioneer Meats, Inc.
$450,000 for OCC Legacy Cuts (Ekalaka): Expansion, USDA Certified/Organic Meat Processing Facility
$150,000 for Old Salt Co-op (Helena): direct-to-consumer meat marketing + proposed slaughter facility
$45,000 for Pekovitch Meats LLC (Malta): expansion, bespoke exempt meat processing equipment upgrades
$150,000 for Prairie Meats LLC (Lothair): expansion, custom exempt meat processing equipment upgrades
· $150,000 for Primitive Meats LLC (Worden): expansion, custom exempt meat processing equipment upgrades
$200,000 for Pure Montana Meats (Miles City): expansion, upgrade of USDA inspected meat processing equipment
$102,945 for S Ranch Meats, LLC (Hardin): expansion, upgrades to USDA inspected meat processing equipment
$150,000 for Superior Meats, Inc. (Superior): Automated packaging equipment and composting system, state inspected
General Agriculture Awards:
$400,000 for Big Sandy Organics (Big Sandy): food manufacturing plant expansion
$277,972 for Commercial Lynks Inc. (Ledger): equipment for expanding, cleaning pulse crops, sorting, splitting and bagging
$450,000 for Evergood Commodities Ltd (Inverness): new installation of a pea and lentil splitting plant
$450,000 for IND HEMP, LLC (Fort Benton): expansion, hemp seed and hemp fiber processing line
$79,300 for Lake County Community Development Corporation (Ronan): Supply of value-added products from Montana for schools in Montana
$300,000 for Madison Food Park LLC (Great Falls): New Phase 1 Cheese Manufacturing and Processing Facility
$150,000 for Montana Gluten Free Processors (Belgrade): expansion, equipment to increase the performance of the processing line
$450,000 for Montana Milling (Great Falls/Conrad): expansion, shelling, shelling and protein isolate extraction
$450,000 for Montana Premier Protein (Billings): new pulse milling plant
$450,000 for Sidney Sugars Inc. (Sidney): Conversion of a new natural gas boiler
$450,000 for The Redwood Group (Shelby): new import/export facility at northern Montana port
$149,900 for Timeless Seeds, Inc. (Ulm): food processing, equipment upgrades to maintain food safety certification
$147,015 for Western Montana Growers Cooperative (Missoula): expansion to support increased local food distribution
In 2020, Tester held hundreds of meetings with Montana workers, small business owners, frontline healthcare workers, educators, tribes and local officials to solicit feedback on what Montanans have needed to get through the pandemic. The tester used the contribution to help craft the US bailout, which provided $20 billion in funding for vaccines, $382 million for Montana K-12 schools, legislation to restore long-distance service on the Empire Builder Amtrak route and billions for small businesses, rural hospitals and the Department of Veterans Affairs.