Tester Secures $7.8 Million for 30 Montana Ag Small Businesses, 3 New USDA Certified Meat Processing Facilities

17 projects will expand Montana meat processing capacity; Senator secured these resources through the American Rescue Plan

As a part of his aggressive efforts to defend Montana agriculture producers and reduce consolidation in the packing industry by expanding local meat processing capacity, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured more than $7.8 million in American Rescue Plan funds for 30 Montana small businesses, including 17 meat processing projects and resources for three new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified meat processing facilities.

Tester helped negotiate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provided this funding, and he was the only Montana statewide official that supported the legislation. Thanks to the 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’m proud to have secured these American Rescue Plan resources that will support family farmers, ranchers, meat processors, and small businesses across our state,” said Tester. “Consolidation in the meat packing industry and anti-competitive behavior by the big four packers are putting our ranchers 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 good-paying jobs in communities across Montana.”

The $7,872,418 in targeted APRA funding comes from the $1.25 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund Tester secured for the state of Montana to respond to the economic effects of the pandemic. These funds are specifically intended for value added agriculture projects and small businesses. The list of grantees recommended by the USDA that will be receiving ARPA funds includes:

New USDA Certified Meat Processing Facilities:

  • $150,000 for Big Sky Processing, LLC (Pray): New USDA Retail/Slaughter 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 Awards:

  • $150,000 for Bear Paw Meats (Havre): Expansion, State Inspected Slaughter Floor Renovations to Increase Capacity
  • $30,286 for BMB Ventures, LLC dba Rawhide Meats (White Sulphur Springs): Expansion, Portioning Vacuum Filler 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, USDA Inspected Meat Processing Equipment Upgrades
  • $450,000 for Hamilton Packing Company (Hamilton): Expansion, State Inspected Meat Processing Equipment Upgrades, Existing Retail
  • $150,000 for Meats of Montana (Big Timber): USDA Inspected Retail Storefront Expansion at Pioneer Meats, Inc
  • $450,000 for OCC Legacy Cuts (Ekalaka): Expansion, USDA/Organic Certified 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, Custom 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, USDA Inspected Meat Processing Equipment Upgrades
  • $102,945 for S Ranch Meats, LLC (Hardin): Expansion, USDA Inspected Meat Processing Equipment Upgrades
  • $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): Expansion, Food Manufacturing Facility
  • $277,972 for Commercial Lynks Inc. (Ledger): Expansion, Pulse Crop Cleaning, Sorting, Splitting, and Bagging Equipment
  • $450,000 for Evergood Commodities Ltd (Inverness): New, Installation of Pea and Lentil Splitting Plant
  • $450,000 for IND HEMP, LLC (Fort Benton): Expansion, Hemp Grain and Hemp Fiber Processing Line
  • $79,300 for Lake County Community Development Corporation (Ronan): Delivering Montana Sourced Value-Added Products for Montana Schools
  • $300,000 for Madison Food Park LLC (Great Falls): New, Phase 1 Cheese Manufacturing & Processing Facility
  • $150,000 for Montana Gluten Free Processors (Belgrade): Expansion, Equipment to Increase Processing Line Performance
  • $450,000 for Montana Milling (Great Falls/Conrad): Expansion, Dehulling, Decortication and Protein Isolate Extraction
  • $450,000 for Montana Premier Protein (Billings): New Pulse Crop Milling Facility
  • $450,000 for Sidney Sugars Inc. (Sidney): New Natural Gas Boiler Conversion
  • $450,000 for The Redwood Group (Shelby): New Import/Export Facility at The Port of Northern Montana
  • $149,900 for Timeless Seeds, Inc. (Ulm): Food Processing, Equipment Upgrade 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’s workers, small business owners, frontline health care workers, educators, Tribes, and local officials to solicit input about what Montanans need to make it through the pandemic. Tester used that input to help craft the American Rescue Plan, which provided $20 billion in vaccine funding, $382 million for Montana K-12 schools, legislation to restore long-distance service to the Empire Builder Amtrak route, and billions for small businesses, rural hospitals and the Department of Veterans Affairs.