Join the Glacier Processing Cooperative to Ensure Legacy for Future Generations: A USDA MPPTA Client Story
Learn about how to join current producer-driven meat processing solutions with Glacier Processing Cooperative and learn more about Montana Farmers Union programming and events at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Fritz Corn Maze, 173 Birch Grove Rd. in Kalispell. The free picnic and meeting is open to the community.
Producers and community members can learn more about Glacier Processing Cooperative’s mission and next steps during the meeting, as well as hear about membership options and an incentive to join by Sept. 30.
Three hundred producer memberships are 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, producers who buy a membership by Sept. 30 will receive one preferred stock share for free.
The co-op was born when a longtime business owner with one of only two meat processing facilities in the Flathead Valley — Vandevanter Meats — decided to retire.
Concerned community members held a meeting last October to gauge interest in forming a cooperative to purchase the processing facility. Through word of mouth, the group was connected to the Flower Hill Institute, which serves as the lead technical assistance coordinator for the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance program.
In January, representatives from MPPTA analyzed the facility and developed a plan of action.
Since that first meeting, the group has consulted with MPPTA to identify the scope of work and complete both a feasibility study and business plan. They hope to officially acquire the facility by the end of the year.
“We’ve been learning this on the fly,” said Mark Siderius, president of the Flathead Farmers Union Local and board president of the cooperative.
“Had we not had MMPTA’s technical support going forward, I’m pretty sure we would have all gone home in February, and that would have been the end of it,” Siderius said.
At a member interest meeting in May, more than 100 community members showed up, and a MPPTA representative was on hand to answer questions. According to Siderius, “There was not a single negative comment.”
The positive interest has continued, with strong attendance during a membership meeting in July, during which shares became available for purchase. Already, producers have purchased memberships.
Lisa Wade-Mayorga, a fourth generation Montanan who serves as the cooperative’s secretary treasurer, sees a share in the co-op as a viable avenue to grow her business. Vandevanter once worked with her family’s business, Montana Better Beef, to certify his plant as organic so that Wade-Mayorga and her family could process their organic beef locally.
Both Wade-Mayorga and her brother had to leave Montana after college to make a living but were able to return to the family ranch because the local processing facilities and growing customer base made it financially feasible.
“I did finally make my way back here, and my heart never really left,” Wade-Mayorga said. “So it would be nice if the next generation doesn’t have to leave Montana.”
Learn how to join and more at www.glacierprocessing.com. Email or text RSVP for the Sept. 14 picnic and meeting appreciated for food count to Carissa McNamara at 406-333-1886 or email@example.com.