Senate panel advances funding for Agri-Tech Park, stronger emergency response for Great Falls

Measures will help fund infrastructure and utilities for new Park

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee have passed legislation that will help boost Montana agriculture and job opportunities through Agri-Tech Park in Great Falls, and better equipment for the city’s emergency response, Tester and Senator Max Baucus announced today.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act includes funding to further extend 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.

Brett Doney, President and CEO of the Great Falls Development Authority, says the funding will means more jobs and new opportunities for Montana’s farmers and ranchers.

“This is great news for north central Montana because it will help us create the first heavy industrial park in Great Falls in 35 years and we appreciate the Senators’ hard work to secure this appropriation,” 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 while increasing the profits for our farmers and ranchers.”

The Appropriations Committee today also approved the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act, which includes funding for a new emergency generator which will allow the Great Falls Dispatch Center to operate a full capacity during emergencies.  The current generator can only operate for a matter of seconds at full capacity.

“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.  “These resources also mean a safer community for families.  These are smart investments that I’ll go to bat for it as it works its way through Congress.”

“This is welcome news to make Great Falls a safer place to live and raise a family, and I’m proud to support it,” said Baucus.  “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.”

Under the current legislation, the Great Falls Development Authority would receive $800,000 for infrastructure and utilities work at Agri-Tech Park.  The City of Great Falls would receive $100,000 for a new emergency generator.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act also includes funding for the City of Shelby to construct railroad tracks to allow the Port of Northern Montana to load and unload full shuttle trains and container freight trains.

The legislation must first pass the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the funding can be signed into law.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, click HERE.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.