Senate committee approves $800,000 agriculture boost

Great Falls Tribune

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $800,000 to boost Montana agriculture and job opportunities at the proposed Agri-Tech Park in northeastern Great Falls, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus, both Montana Democrats, announced Thursday.

The appropriations bill, which still must be approved by the full Senate and House, also contains $100,000 for the city of Great Falls to purchase an emergency generator so its dispatch center can operate at full capacity for hours during emergencies.

The $800,000 would go toward further extending infrastructure and utilities — such as water, sewer, gas and rail — into the new Great Falls Agri-Tech Park in order to attract agricultural processing plants that will be able to add value to Montana’s raw agricultural products, according to the press release Great Falls Development Authority President Brett Doney thanked the senators, City Manager Greg Doyon, Cascade County Commissioner Joe Briggs and Great Falls Chamber of Commerce President Steve Malicott for their hard work on the project.

“This is great news for northcentral Montana because it will help us create the first heavy industrial park in Great Falls in 35 years,” Doney said. “The Agri-Park will be a place where we take raw farm products like grains and livestock and add value by simply cleaning, crushing or processing the product before sending it to market.”

“Adding value to Montana farm products will provide good paying jobs locally, while increasing the profits for our farmers and ranchers,” he added.

Doney hopes to have buildings for two business tenants under construction by the end of the year.

“Folks on the ground in Great Falls are going to see real results from this funding, including more jobs and better opportunities for our small farms and ranches,” Tester said.

“This is welcome news to make Great Falls a safer place to live and raise a family, and I’m proud to support it,” Baucus said. “This is about making sure emergency responders can better communicate and work together during emergencies. And it’s about looking out for our small producers. It’s a win-win for the Great Falls area.”