Tester Secures $2 Million to Fund Existing and Startup Meat and Poultry Processing Operations in Montana

Funding comes from Senator’s American Rescue Plan Act

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $2,000,000 from the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program for the Great Falls Development Authority Inc (GFDA). This program was funded through Tester’s American Rescue Plan Act. The funding will go toward expanding GFDA’s relending work, providing support for both existing meat and poultry processing operations in the Great Falls region that are looking to grow as well as entrepreneurs looking to start new operations. By expanding local meat processing, this funding will provide more options to livestock producers looking to bring their product to market, strengthen North Central Montana’s regional food system, and support the creation of new high-paying jobs.  

Tester helped negotiate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), was the only Montana statewide official that supported the legislation, and worked to allow GDFA to access the program.

“Local meat processing operations are critically important to the sustainability and profitability of Montana’s ranchers and packers,” Tester said. “Expanding meat processing capacity in and around Great Falls will help local producers expand and diversify their businesses, while cutting costs for both the producer and the consumer. Organizations like the Great Falls Development Authority play a critical role in keeping small agriculture businesses competitive, and I will keep working to make sure they have the resources and support they need.”

“Our mission at GFDA is to help small businesses and entrepreneurs here in Great Falls grow and create economic opportunity for themselves and for the community,” said Brett Doney, President and CEO, Great Falls Development Authority. “This American Rescue Plan funding is a win-win—it will help us support local meat processors looking to expand their operations to meet the needs of regional producers, and it will help create new high-paying local jobs in the industry.  Investments like this make waves in communities like ours and we are grateful for Senator Tester’s continued work to support small businesses and development organizations across the Treasure State.”

Tester’s American Rescue Plan Act dedicated $1 billion for the expansion and diversification of independent processing capacity. In order to meet this objective, USDA created a number of Meat and Poultry Supply Chain programs and initiatives. The Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program was one of several programs developed to support participants of these initiatives by providing technical assistance to expand processing at the state and local levels.

Tester has also been the leading champion of Montana’s small farmers and ranchers and has led the charge to increase competition in the agriculture industry. Tester’s Meat Packing Special Investigator Act would create the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and his Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act sets regional mandatory minimum thresholds for negotiated purchases of fed cattle by large meatpackers.

Tester has also played a key role in expanding meat processing capability in Montana. In March, Tester secured $7.8 million for 30 Montana agriculture small businesses, which included funding for three new USDA-certified meat processing facilities. Specifically, the Senator secured $150,000 for Big Sky Processing in Pray, $300,000 for Blue Creek Marbled Meat Co in Billings, and $450,00 for Nguyen Holdings, Inc dba M&S Meats in Rollins.


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