Tester Secures $2 Million to Strengthen Montana Food Systems

Montana organizations to receive six USDA grants to improve local food distribution networks across state

As a part of his continued effort to strengthen Montana food systems, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured six United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grants totaling $1,968,000 for local organizations to improve food distribution networks across the state.

Senator Tester helped authorize LFPP in the 2018 Farm Bill, and he was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for 2022 Fiscal Year Omnibus package and the American Rescue Plan, which funded these six grants.

“Food security is national security—and with consolidation in the food industry at an all-time high, it’s critical that we strengthen our local systems to ensure that all Montanans have reliable access to healthy foods,” said Tester. “The closer the consumer is to the producer, the better the food will taste, and the healthier it will be. By cutting out middlemen and investing in local food systems, Montana’s producers will benefit from better margins, and consumers will receive high quality food at more affordable prices.”

Funding will be delivered to six Montana organizations through the USDA’s LFPP program. LFPP helps fund projects and organizations that engage in producer to consumer marketing by increasing access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products. Grants can be used for the planning stages of establishing or expanding a local and regional food business enterprise or to improve or expand a food business that supports locally and regionally produced agricultural products and food system infrastructure by performing feasibility studies, market research, training, and technical assistance for the business enterprise and/or for producers working with the business enterprise. A 25 percent match from the organization is required.

Montana recipients include:

  • $500,000 for Hopa Mountain, Inc. (Bozeman) to support expanded food hub systems in underserved Tribal and rural communities.
  • $491,701 for the Lake County Development Corporation (Ronan) to increase processing capacity at the Northwest Food Hub Network.
  • $422,180 for Old Salt Co-Op (Helena) to develop a subscription meat share.
  • $300,000 for the Livingston Food Resource Center (Livingston) to support the Food Resource Center’s work integrating local agricultural producers into programming.
  • $159,387 for Yellowstone Valley Food Hub (Billings) to hire a staff member and build out relationships with restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses.
  • $95,450 for Daniels Gourmet Meats (Bozeman) to develop an online system to market local meat directly to consumers.

As the only working farmer in the United States Senate, Tester has long been a champion for investing in Montana’s food security. In 2020 he helped negotiate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which delivered $7.8 million to 30 Montana ag small businesses in March of 2022 to improve local food systems. The $7.8 million in targeted APRA funding was delivered to 17 meat processing projects, 10 value added agriculture projects, and three new USDA certified meat processing facilities.


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