Glacier Processing Cooperative Membership Opens July 31
A newly formed cooperative geared to preserve and expand meat processing capacity in the Flathead Valley will begin accepting members July 31.
Producers and interested community members can learn more about the Glacier Processing Cooperative during the Membership Meeting to be held at 7 p.m. in the Trade Center Building at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, 265 North Meridian Rd., in Kalispell.
The meeting will feature a panel discussion, information about how to become a co-op member, and a Q&A about the cooperative’s feasibility study that looks at the two-phase plan to acquire and then double the meat processing capacity at Vandevanter Meats in Kalispell.
“What’s driving the board itself is really wanting to help their neighbors and other producers to keep this avenue open to have this ability to direct market livestock – to direct market and feed people here in the valley,” said Mark Siderius, a farmer and rancher near Kalispell who has spearheaded the project along with his wife Heather.
Glacier Processing Cooperative was born from a need to maintain meat processing capacity when the owner of Vandevanter Meats decided to retire.
Since conversations started about forming a cooperative, the response has been positive.
“And people want to know how to help and how to be a part of it,” Siderius said.
“Well, if you want to support your community, this is the best way,” he added.
Memberships will become available for purchase by producers wishing to join the cooperative during the July 31 meeting, with 300 producer memberships available at $7,000 each. Investment in the cooperative also can be made by purchasing non-voting preferred stock shares at $1,000 each. As an added incentive, from July 31 to Sept. 30, producers who buy a membership will receive one preferred stock share for free.
The board also plans to offer a lower processing price to members than non-members and priority for scheduling processing dates.
Forming the cooperative and purchasing Vandevanter Meats maintains the current meat processing capacity in the valley at a time when slaughter schedules are up to 18 months out.
“The excitement out of the project is that people are looking at this, and they’re feeling that they have stability at this point in time because they know that if they’re a member then they have a share in that, they have a voice in that, that have a vote,” Siderius said.
The goal is to take over operations on Jan. 1 of next year, with the current equipment and staff.
“We basically will have no disruption, just a shifting of the name to start,” Siderius said.
As soon as the transition takes place, Phase 2 will begin to double the meat processing facility’s capacity, which currently is 1,100 head per year.
“Usually the question coming from everyone is ‘Are you going to expand?’ That’s the first question they have,” Siderius said.
“The plan would be to make the acquisition, and we hope by spring or summer to break ground on a major expansion and have that major expansion done in the first eighteen months,” Siderius added.
In the meantime, Siderius said, the cooperative will work to find efficiencies and add staff to increase capacity by roughly 25 percent.
“It’s important in that it’s protecting the local producers, protecting this business and keeping it in play in perpetuity,” he said.
For more information about Glacier Processing Cooperative and the upcoming Membership Meeting, go to www.glacierprocessing.com.