Sunday, December 5, 2021

Producer Partnership Working with Ranchers to End Hunger in Montana

by Brett McRae
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Montana ranchers have taken a major step towards ending food insecurity in the state. With the formation of the Producer Partnership early in the pandemic, nearly 80,000 pounds of beef has been donated to the Montana Food Bank Network. That’s just the beginning though.

The Producer Partnership is a non-profit organization that partners with ranchers by accepting donated cull animals from producers, who may receive tax deductions depending on their personal or corporate tax statuses, and paying for the processing of that animal into hamburger. The meat is donated to food banks, community centers or other non-profit agencies that provide aid to those facing food insecurity in Montana.

Until now, most producer partners have donated beef to the Partnership. However, the organization has recently added pigs and sheep to its donations to give hungry Montanans a variety of protein options. Nevertheless, the Partnership is not satisfied with its work so far.

President Matt Pierson is a fifth-generation rancher and active community member in Livingston, Montana. Northern Ag Network’s Andy Schwab spoke with about the Partnership’s goals such as building the first federally inspected, non-profit, modular meat processing unit in Montana. Pierson mentioned that the first unit of this plant is completed and is currently being shipped to the Partnership.

Pierson talked about how this unit will help the partnership fight hunger in new ways: “Once we get our facility into place, tackling everything the Montana Food Bank Network needs and [donating beef to public schools around Montana] will be within our reach”.  The first goal for the facility is to process at least seven animals a week for an annual total of 140,000 pounds of hamburger donated to the Montana Food Bank Network.

The Partnership is also planning to make the facility available to producers in the Partnership for retail services, allowing these ranchers to capitalize on farm-to-table marketing opportunities. Pierson also mentioned that once the facility is operational the Partnership will be able to accept many different types of donations, from goats to bison.

The Producer Partnership is always looking for beef and now other kinds of meat to be donated, but there are many other things people can do to help the partnership accomplish its goal to end hunger in the state.

The organization is also looking for funds to assist with the completion of the remainder of the processing facility. In addition to these funds, the Partnership needs a team of skilled employees, such as meat cutters, packers, delivery drivers and volunteers to run the processing unit.

This facility represents a one-of-a-kind operation within Montana that benefits producers, people facing food insecurity and the broader community as a whole. If you are interested in donating meat, money or time go to producerpartnership.com.

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