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Governor: Increased support for Montana meat processors needed

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News from the office of Governor Gianforte

GREAT FALLS — Governor Greg Gianforte visited Central Avenue Meats on Wednesday, March 20, and highlighted the state’s investments in building a stronger workforce to support the meat processing industry in Montana.

“By investing in value-added processing and manufacturing in Montana, our producers are able to keep pace with a transforming agricultural industry, expand their production, and create more good-paying jobs,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Now that we’ve built more butcher shops, it’s time to strengthen investments to build up our workforce and meet the needs of employers.”

In 2020, the governor approved American Rescue Plan Act Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program awards with over $12.3 million awarded to Montana meat processors. Thanks to this investment, the amount of meat processed in Montana facilities has more than doubled since the governor took office.

Increasing meat processing capacity in the state to add value to Montana commodities is among the governor’s top priorities.

During the visit, the governor announced wait times for processing across the state has decreased significantly.

Discussing the ability to increase processing capacity, Central Avenue Meats owner and operator Drew Hicks added, “I am very happy wait times for individual ranchers on custom kills has gone down a lot. We are hopeful for progress on the federal inspection process to increase our capacity.”

Hicks continued, “One of the things we are hopeful for is a federally inspected slaughterhouse that is in or near Great Falls. We don’t have something that is as close as we need it, and part of that delay is due to workforce concerns.”

Highlighting Montana programs that help increase the skilled labor force for meat processing businesses, the governor mentioned the Miles City Community College internship-based certificate and Montana State University Northern’s meat processing center for students to gain hands-on experience.

“I am excited to see these programs going. Working with the local Great Falls workforce, we are training our own employees but are looking for other ways to expand apprenticeships,” Hicks added.

In 2022, Montana added more apprenticeships to the Registered Apprenticeship Program than ever before, many of which were added following a rule change championed by the governor that went into effect that year.

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