by Peter Johnson, Great Falls Tribune
The Great Falls Development Authority and its corporate and community partners are hoping to soon reach the fabled “next year” harvest that agricultural producers are always dreaming about.
Oh sure, they'd love some timely spring rain this year to ensure bountiful crops of wheat, barley and pulse crops and verdant pastures for livestock production.
But the bumper crop that's really in their sights might take a bit longer but would create more jobs and raise local tax bases throughout the Golden Triangle region and beyond.
The GFDA is planting sophisticated seeds it hopes will lead to yields of new agri-processing facilities in such niche markets as pulse crop fractionation, or malting; specialty malting for microbreweries and sprouted grain milling to change nutritional components.
With $50,000 of the $200,000 grant the GFDA was awarded last year by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, it hired a seasoned consultant to make market-based arguments, or business cases, why the Great Falls region is ideally suited for such agri-processing plants.
“We think there are tremendous opportunities to process more agricultural goods through intermediate level processing that can produce the ingredients to ship to final-stage manufacturers in bigger markets,” said Brett Doney, president of the Great Falls Development Authority.
“We've been shipping out too many agricultural products in Montana without any processing,” he said.
More processing would benefit the region and state in three ways, Doney said. It would create good-paying manufacturing jobs, raise local property tax bases and give regional producers more options in where to sell their crops.
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Source: Great Falls Tribune