In 2011, nationally-recognized food system analyst Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center was commissioned by Grow Montana members and others to do a series of studies on Montana’s regional food economy. According to Meter’s study, area farmers earned $76 million dollars less by selling commodities in 2008 than they earned in 1969. He also highlighted that direct farm-to-consumer sales in that region are 3.5 times the national average, and that purchasing 15% of food directly from producers would generate Read highlights of his reports:

Western Montana Presentation.
Western Montana Report.
Eastern Montana Report.
Golden Triangle Report.
Southeast of Golden Triangle Report.

Marcia Herrin’s and Joan Dye Gussow’s Designing a Sustainable Regional Diet: A Montana Model, describes the potential of our state to be nearly self-sufficient with a nutritious diet year-round. Long-forgotten historical food and agriculture data supports their thesis and provides fuel for the current debate about Montana’s food system.

Grow Montana: Strengthening our Food and Agricultural Economy
A PowerPoint presentation outlining what Grow Montana has been learning about the exciting potential of a Montana-based food system, and about what kinds of things we’re finding needs to happen to build on that potential. Nancy’s history of Food processing paper from her intern.

Redeveloping a Montana Food Processing Industry: The Role of Food Innovation Centers
by Jessica Babcock
This professional paper aims to increase understanding of food innovation centers in order to contribute to the discussion surrounding the desired redevelopment of a Montana food processing industry. The eleven food innovation centers examined here offer facilities for food processing and testing, and many include technical assistance for marketing, business development, and regulation compliance. The research objectives are threefold: 1) explain both the historical and contemporary context of food processing in Montana, 2) describe and analyze what other states and provinces are doing with regard to food innovation centers, and 3) utilize the research findings to make recommendations for how food innovation centers may or may not address identified needs regarding food processing in Montana. The report concludes by outlining recommendations and options for establishing a food innovation center network in Montana.

Building a Better Local Food System
A Case Study of Western Montana Growers Cooperative, Summary of Masters Thesis by Beth Neely, The University of Montana’s Environmental Studies Program.

Mobile Processing: Appropriate Technology for Pastured Poultry Producers
This professional paper by UM environmental studies graduate student and poultry producer Sarah Stokes explores the ins and outs of small-scale poultry processing in Montana, including regulatory requirements. In particular, she studies the potential of a mobile processing unit, including case-examples from other states.

Feasibility of a Beef Processing Plant in Beaverhead County
Headwaters RC&D and Beaverhead Economic Development Corporation explore the feasibility of local beef processing.

Unlocking the Food Buying Potential of Montana’s Public Institutions Towards a Montana-based Food Economy
Drs. Fraser Mcleay and Nicola Barron analyzed Montana’s public institutional food service markets, and Montana’s food and agricultural producers’ capacity to serve those markets. Their final report calls Montana public institutions an important stepping stone for Montana food producers to tap into the broader food service market. It also describes the need for investment in food system infrastructure to meet the needs of these markets.

Tracing the Chain: An In-Depth Look at the University of Montana’s Farm to College Program
Dr. Neva Hassanein, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, and 10 graduate students, followed the food chain of the program’s purchases of local and regional food for campus dining halls and retail outlets. The research team looked at the social, economic, and transportation-related benefits and challenges associated with supporting local agricultural economic development.

Local is Delicious: But it’s not always easy
A case study of the Western Montana Growers Cooperative by Dr. Neva Hassanein and a group of EVST graduate students.

An Historical Analysis of Food Manufacturing in Montana
By Rebecca Harbage, Marketing & Business Development Intern with the Montana Department of Agriculture
This report provides a preliminary look into the food manufacturing sector in Montana. In the sections below, I explain the strengths and weaknesses of the data and describe some of the major findings from the research and their implications for Montana. The purpose of the project is to understand historical trends in the industry and compare local activity to national trends. The ultimate goal is to pinpoint key factors that influenced a decline in food manufacturing in Montana during the later twentieth century, and discover what factors are currently affecting the industry’s resurgence.