Helena, Mont. – Montana Department of Agriculture Director Ben Thomas and the Agriculture Development Council announced the recipients of $859,832 in grants and loans to Montana agricultural businesses and organizations. From Westby to Alberton, a total of 24 projects across the state were awarded funds through the Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) program.
“Agriculture drives Montana’s economy and the Growth Through Agriculture program plays a vital role in providing opportunities to strengthen and diversify the industry,” said Director Ben Thomas. “Investing in value-added agriculture helps producers and businesses across the state expand, access new markets, and promote Montana’s high-quality ag products.”
This year, the Council funded several projects aimed at bolstering and expanding local meat processing capabilities. Hamilton Pack of Hamilton was awarded a $46,000 grant to purchase equipment to expand processing capabilities and product offerings, while Hi Country Snack Foods of Lincoln was awarded a $25,000 grant and $50,000 loan to purchase and install new packaging equipment, giving them the ability to co-package for other Montana companies. Montana Branded of Westby was awarded a $27,000 grant to purchase a walk-in freezer to expand retail beef sales, and Project Meats of Billings was awarded a $50,000 grant and $100,000 loan to purchase packaging and processing equipment, train new hires and purchase a new delivery vehicle.
The GTA program was established by the legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana’s agriculture industry by developing new agricultural products and processes. The GTA program is administered by the Montana Department of Agriculture with counsel from the Agriculture Development Council, a seven member committee appointed by the Governor. GTA funding requires the investment of at least $1 in matching funds for every $1 in grant or loan assistance received.
2020 Growth Through Agriculture Program Awards
Big Sandy Organics – Big Sandy
Grant for $40,000 to increase storage space, grow production capabilities with the purchase of a second jacketed steam kettle, and advance its national online marketing.
Big Sky Orchards – Big Fork
Grant for $40,000 to expand the processing and packaging of family-grown Montana hops and enable year-round hops availability.
Caroline Point Farm – Missoula
Grant and Loan for $30,000 to help expand ecommerce and wholesale markets for Mountain Meadow Bone Broth.
Cowboy Cricket Farms – Bozeman
Grant for $15,000 to assist with the purchase of automation and sensor equipment to increase cricket farm production and materials for packaging finished products.
Crawford Distillery – Havre
Grant for $5,362 to assist with the purchase of distilling equipment that will increase production capability from 50 gallons to 300 gallons.
Crescent Ridge Farm – Alberton
Grant for $25,250 to assist with a processing and cold storage facility and expansion of the produce and flower farm.
Crooked Yard Hops – Bozeman
Loan for $13,500 to help with the expansion of hops harvesting and packaging line to meet the Montana market demand for hops and hops processing.
Dry Hills Distillery – Bozeman
Loan for $49,000 to assist with the purchase of an electric hammer-mill and an automated bottle labeling system to increase the production of Montana grains and expand co-packaging potential.
Farmented Foods – Kalispell
Grant for $14,052 to assist with business expansion and larger-scale processing and fermentation equipment purchases, consultant services, advertising and promotion.
Flathead Lake Cherry Growers – Polson
Grant for $50,000 to replace its cold-storage cooling system with a non-hazardous, freon-based system.
Go Roam Free – Hot Springs
Grant for $5,000 to help expand the production of grass-fed bison products through improvements to infrastructure and marketing.
Green Ridge Biosolutions – Ronan
Grant for $45,000 to purchase a 50kg per hour extraction unit and expand Green Ridge’s capacity to extract Montana-grown hemp ten-fold.
Hamilton Pack – Hamilton
Grant for $46,000 to assist with the purchase of a vacuum tumbler and new hamburger grinder and mixer to expand product offerings and sell an additional 700 lbs of meat per week.
Hi Country Snack Foods – Lincoln
Grant and Loan for $75,000 to assist with the purchase and installation of packaging equipment for the local jerky operation so it can co-package for other Montana companies.
Kalispell Kreamery – Kalispell
Loan for $28,000 to assist with the establishment of a glass bottle recycling program through purchase of a multi-function bottle washer and a rotary cap feeder and cap chute.
Lifeline Produce – Victor
Grant for $16,990 to build and equip a commissary kitchen for prepping and washing ready-to-eat vegetables.
Milk River Joint Board of Control – Havre
Grant for $50,000 for supplies and materials to replace Drop 2 of the St. Mary Project, helping to provide a continued water supply to the Milk River Basin while preserving the Basin’s natural resources.
Montana Branded – Westby
Grant for $27,000 to assist with the purchase of a walk-in freezer to expand retail beef sales.
Montana Gluten Free Prairie – Manhattan
Grant for $5,000 to upgrade packaging and baking equipment to increase production efficiencies and double production capacity in two years.
Montana Premier Protein – Billings
Grant for $50,000 to help fund an engineering study, site evaluation consultation, and market analysis for its pulse protein processing facility.
Project Meats – Billings
Grant and Loan for $150,000 to assist with the purchase of packaging and processing equipment to accommodate growth at a new facility, provide new hire training and acquire a delivery vehicle.
SporeAttic – Bozeman
Grant for $11,290 to assist with infrastructure development, startup costs and mushroom cultivation equipment purchases for the commercial mushroom farm.
St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group – Malta
Grant for $43,388 to repair and replace the most severely failed expansion joints and concrete saddle supports of the St. Mary River Siphon.
Willow Mountain Winery – Corvallis
Grant for $25,000 to assist with vineyard expansion, maintenance, and winery production including the development of sparkling wines.
Photo Credit: Big Sky Orchards