News & Happenings Around MMFEC

 

Find client stories, grant projects, and up to date information about what is going on at the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center!

 

Workshop for Specialty Crop Producers and Organic Seed Production

 Check out this great opportunity for Specialty Crop growers who would like to learn more about organic seed production.

When: Thursday, December 3rd from 8am-1:45pm

Where: At the Montana Organic Associations annual conference, Bozeman

See here for more details.

 

The Lentil Burger in the News

The Lentil Burger, developed and procduced at MMFEC, is making it to a grocery store near you! Check out this great article from our local paper, The Valley Journal:

Lentil Lovin', published May 13, 2015

 

Cottage Food bill is signed into law!

As steering committee members of Grow Montana, we are excited that the Cottage Food bill (HB-478) has been signed into law by Governor Bullock! This bill, an outcome of nearly two years worth of work, streamlines food regulations in the state, specifically around what can be produced in a home kitchen without inspection for sale directly to consumers.

 

HB-478 signing

 

Cherry Season is in full swing here at MMFEC! - August 2014

Our processing crew has been busy getting cherries washed, pitted, packed, and frozen. So far they have done over 6,000 pounds, with another few thousand pounds to go. Freezing cherries is a great way to enjoy a taste of Montana summer during the cold days of winter.


 

FoodCorps Montana Blog: A Classroom Ceremony for Food - November 2013

MMFEC's FoodCorps Service Member Nicki Jimenez on the importance of ceremony and community around food - especially when trying new foods with kids in the classroom:

"'All hail kale!' we cheered with our forks raised before chomping down on bites of kale salad. It was my second class of the day with the fifth graders at Ronan Middle School, who had just finished making three variations of Massaged Kale Salad: Basic, Greek, and Spice it Up. After the salads were ready, the students cleaned up, and then patiently waited while we reviewed the “Don’t Yuck My Yum” Rule, served up our samples, and collectively decided on a cheer. Following the enthusiastic cheer, every 5th grader tried his or her salad—then most of them excitedly sampled the other groups’ concoctions. Such eager tasting by so many 5th graders is a huge success!

To be honest, my first class on the same day had gone a little differently, and it taught me an important lesson..."

Read on to find out the lessons Nicki learned about trying new foods with kids in the classroom on FoodCorps Montana's Blog.

Teaching 2nd Graders about Butternut Squash

 

 

Bitterroot Dairy Market Feasibility Study - Completed Summer 2013

A Growth Through Agriculture Grant-supported project

Jersey cow on pasture

Montana dairy farms are in trouble. Over the past two decades, the industry has contracted from 228 farms to only 70, a decrease of nearly 70%. Many factors have contributed to the loss of farms across the state – a situation that is mirrored across the United States. The price farmers receive for milk does not mirror what they must pay for feed and labor, regulation compliance increases costs, and farmers must be able to do more with less to compete with larger farms.

In Montana, farmers only have two options when it comes to selling their milk for processing. Both of these companies, Darigold and Meadow Gold, are based out of state, but operate facilities in state. Because of the cost associated with shipping fluid milk, market demands, and industry consolidation, the only dairy product produced in Montana is fluid milk in a plastic jug or school carton. Farmers who sell to these companies are “price-takers,” meaning they must take the market price for milk and depend on these two companies to process as much as they can for sale into the higher priced fluid milk market. Despite Montana processors only making fluid milk, just 70% of the state’s production goes into a jug, the rest is shipped out of state for further processing, thus selling for a lower price (and lowering the farmer’s milk check).

One tactic to increase earnings on-farm is for the farmer to add value to their own milk through bottling, cheese making, or making other dairy products. The purpose of the GTA was to fund a market feasibility study to examine the potential for locally produced milk and ice cream. There are currently two dairy farms that process their own milk, Kalispell Kreamery and Lifeline Dairy, and both have found a receptive market for milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. This project combined the production of three independent farmers who were interested in working together to develop a creamery of their own.

The market study was conducted by CardnoEntrix of Missoula with questions developed in collaboration with MMFEC and the dairy farmers. The survey reached 102 grocery stores, restaurants, and individuals in the western Montana region. From the survey responses, CardnoEntrix estimated a market demand of 800,000 gallons of locally produced milk and 120,000 gallons of locally produced ice cream.

While these results are encouraging, the estimated demand only matched 1/3 of a year’s production for the three farmers. Because going into the processing business on such a scale is costly and labor intensive, the dairy farmers felt that the survey response was not strong enough to justify further action as a group. The results were still positive though, pointing to an area of agriculture that has room for development and a ready market to accept new products.

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