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Governor has lunch, talks ag with local producers during Ag Week

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CHARLO — Governor Greg Gianforte shared a locally sourced meal with farmers and ranchers at the Ninepipes Lodge on Wednesday, March 20, during Agriculture Appreciation Week.

Nick Courville with Double Cross Livestock in Charlo organized the event to share the local bounty during the governor’s tour of the state during ag week. “I think it’s cool to show off what everyone can produce,” he said. “Everyone here provided something for today’s lunch.”

The lunch included beef noodle stew with rolls. The ingredients for rolls and stew came from local producers while Allentown Restaurant staff did the cooking. 

“Today was to show off local agriculture and to show off how easy it is to work with local produce providers,” Courville said. “Sometimes it seems inaccessible if they aren’t at the farmers’ market, so getting face-to-face to understand how that side of our business operates and how it makes ends meet for us as a local rancher, producer, as opposed to trying to ship it away.”

Fourth-generation farmer and Ronan native, Bridgett Cheff, echoed Courville adding, “Getting local products out to consumers is really important because it not only supports local businesses, but it also promotes the genuine quality that these farmers and ranchers in the valley produce, all the while promoting healthy nutrition for growing families.”

Local rancher Brittany Cathey of Cathey Cattle Company, who provided local, grass-fed beef for the meal said of the current high in cattle prices: “It’s a good ride to be on while it lasts, but prices will level out sooner or later.” 

Discussing expanding opportunities for Montana producers to get their product to the market, the group highlighted the state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) that makes Montana one of few states in the nation where state-inspected meat and poultry processors can ship their products across state lines.

“This agreement was a huge advantage. Right now I have to have my product federally inspected and there are very few inspectors – I was lucky to have one close to me in Ronan. But this allows more options,” Brittany Cathey added.

Following the meal, Gianforte said: “Agriculture is really the backbone industry for the state and that’s why it was great to celebrate with a bunch of producers here today.” 

Regarding the future of Montana agriculture, the Governor said: “What we need is for more of the younger generation to get into the industry.”

He concluded that everyone should: “Eat Montana beef and agricultural products because you will be healthier and happier for it.”

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