Montana Meat Processors Holding Annual Convention in Big Timber

by Colter Brown

Big Timber, MT is welcoming nearly 200 meat processors from across Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon this week for the Annual Montana Meat Processors Association Convention.

Brian Engle is the owner of Pioneer Meats in Big Timber, and lead organizer of the convention. “We are progressive processors coming together to share ideas, techniques, and knowledge. Our goal is to improve our products, better serve our communities, and promote the small processing industry,” said Engle.

Brian and his wife Kary opened a new storefront in downtown Big Timber in 2021 where customers can purchase locally processed beef, lamb, sausage, bacon, and other meat products. The store, named Meats of Montana, also features dairy from Kalispell Creamery and wild-caught seafood from Catch Sitka. Meats of Montana, along with the Engles’ processing facility contributes over $1.3 million in payroll expenses to the Big Timber economy each year.

“Pioneer Meats is a vital business for our community in Big Timber. Our residents have privileged access to fresh, locally raised, locally processed meat at a time when many consumers can’t find anything on the shelves. Sweet Grass County is leading the way with value-added agriculture, public outreach, education, and economic diversity. Pioneer Meats is just one example of exceptional ag leadership in our community,” said Raymond Porter, Executive Director of the Sweet Grass County Chamber of Commerce.

The convention will include a processing demonstration on emulsification and smoked sausage by Cured Meats Hall of Fame member, Jon Frohling and the crew at Pioneer Meats. Attendees will also tour a composting facility and compete in the cured meat contest. Participants have access to classes in humane handling, marketing, human resources, and meat processing. Chris Young with the American Association of Meat Processors will be the featured speaker at the banquet to conclude the event.

Photo: MT Meat Processors Association

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