Resilient Montana Meat Processing

The Montana Organic Association has taken the lead in organizing in response to insufficient meat processing capacity that our ranchers are experiencing in the face of unprecedented demand. Your name was mentioned as someone who can add a lot to our discussion and who would be in important resource for our monthly calls.  

In early June 2020, several organizations and individuals were contacted to gauge interest in participating in discussions on the topic, and most expressed enthusiastic support for doing so. They include the Montana Department of Agriculture, MSU, Grow Montana, AERO, Montana Farmers Union (MFU), Montana Meat Processors Association (MMPA), National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC), Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and others.

Certified organic grassfed cattle, Aspen Island Ranch, Lavina, MT. Photo Credit: Jamie Lockman

The initial planning meeting took place in June and was very well-received by the dozen participants. There was overwhelming support for continuing the discussions and to move to action on meat processing. The meetings have continued on the third Tuesday of the month delivered via Zoom.

The focus of the continuing discussions is on small, decentralized meat processing as a part of a vision to reinvent local economies based on agriculture. For a calendar invitation or more information, contact Jamie Lockman, moamembership@gmail.com.

Mark and Jane Smith Host Annual MOA 2020 Farm Tour

Mark and Jane Smith hosted the 2020 MOA farm tour at their Aspen Island Ranch on June 13, 2020. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, the tour only included eleven participants, including Montana PBS videographer Abbey Wenger and professional photographer Alexis Bonogofsky.

The Aspen Island Ranch is located about five miles west of Montana Highway 3, halfway between Lavina and Broadview in Golden Valley County. The ranch is small-scale with 65 certified organic grass-fed cow-calf pairs and long yearlings awaiting harvest. The tour required ATVs to cross four contiguous sections from north to south. Pat Hatfield, Ph.D., Montana State University, Range Management, Wes Henthorne, B Bar Ranch, and Montana Organic Producers Co-op (MOPC) facilitated Mark's discussion. Sam Schmidt, MOA Farm Tour Chair and Organic Advisory and Education Council (OAEC); Becky Weed, MOA Chair; Jamie Lockman, MOA Executive Director; and Jeff Schahczenski, Economist, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) also participated in the tour.

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