A Canadian livestock production and animal nutrition corporation is seeking to build Montana’s largest slaughterhouse and meat processing facility near Great Falls.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, Friesen Foods has filed a Special Use Permit (SUP) with the Cascade County Planning Division for the proposed “Madison Food Park” complex, which could employ 3,000 people. When fully operational, thousands of tons of beef, pork and chicken could be shipped to consumer markets throughout North America.
“The scope and scale of the proposed Madison Food Park (MFP) property and project will include, when complete, a state-of-the-art, robotically controlled, environmentally friendly, multi-species food processing plant for cattle, pigs and chickens and the related further processing facilities for beef, pork and poultry,” Friesen Foods said in a statement.
“In addition to the meat packing elements, the project will also incorporate facilities for the processing of both fresh milk supplied by local and regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products, as well as a distillery, which will source the grain necessary for the production of Montana branded spirits from cereal crops grown by area farmers,” Friesen Foods said.
The Great Falls Tribune reports the Cascade County Planning Division has confirmed that 3,018-acres of undeveloped farmland has been sold to Friesen Foods. The new facility would have the potential to process 165 truckloads of cattle, hogs, chickens and bulk milk each week.
The Madison Food Park permit application estimates the facility would use up to 3.55 million gallons of water each day. Additionally, the containment and disposal of approximately 103,000 pounds of animal waste each day would be a consideration, but Friesen Foods says that “99.6% of the solid and liquid waste produced as a direct by-product of livestock processing will be…recycled by means of anaerobic digestion technology incorporated into the energy generation equipment design of the facilities, which will convert the waste stream into usable energy (methane gas) to power electric turbines.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that Montana was home to 1.49 million beef cows in 2016, and a total inventory of all cattle and calves of 2.65 million head. The number of cattle on feed in Montana is estimated at 45,000 head.