Ranchers Excited About New Montana Premium Processing Cooperative in Havre

October 18, 2022

Insight into breaking out of the commodity market and selling meat locally as well as regionally was a panel discussion at the recent Montana Farmers Union Annual Convention in Helena. Bill Jones is general manager of the Montana Premium Processing Cooperative, a new member owned processing facility in Havre. He says it's an exciting opportunity for both producers and consumers.

"The biggest reason is because of the producer," said Jones. "They've been through a lot and they have a lot ahead of them. And to be able to supply them with the opportunity to get their animals processed in the state of Montana in a quality facility that honestly they own is just super exciting."

DeBruycker Charolais of Dutton, Mont. is one of the investors because Brett says more competition is good for cattle producers.

"One of the biggest problems we've got today is dealing with the packing house situation," said DeBruycker. "We just don't have enough competition in the industry. All the money is getting funneled to the top and I'm a firm believer that we need to get more of these local processors going. They're never going to compete directly with the big processor. That's not the point. And I have a large respect for these large processors. So, it's not a problem. It's a matter of trying to create more competition, even at a local level, to try to bring some relief to the industry and try to get some more avenues for marketing for producers."

The co-op will also partner with Montana State University-Northern in Havre to train students in meat cutting and to help develop future curricula in meat processing and business.

"My passion is to teach young people, make it attractive to them and show them a different way to do it," said Jones. "It's not just break your back. It's always going to be hard work but it doesn't have to be as hard work and just attract that next generation for sure."

DeBruycker has this advice for other cattle producers when it comes to investing in local processing and branded beef programs.

"The biggest thing is whatever you do, you have to have passion for it," said DeBruycker. "If you're not going in with 100% commitment and the passion for it, whether it's racing motorcycles or selling beef, you're not going to stick with it. You have to have the commitment and the passion and you'll get there."

The USDA certified facility will be operational in late November and will initially process 3,000 to 3,500 head of cattle, sheep, hogs and bison a year. For more information about the Montana Premium Processing Cooperative, click here.

Source: Western Ag Network