Ag in Western Montana

More than 30 people gathered in Arlee in early March to identify key next steps for our food system and determine a strategy for moving forward.  All of the attendees brought a vast amount of knowledge and enthusiasm, from the Tobacco Valley to the Bitterroot.


Photo by Cathrine Walters

Amidst conversation about what our working groups have been doing in the last year and the values behind local food, the group used a world café-style discussion to dive into the wide variety of goals and strategies that are needed to bolster our food system.

Goal 1: Increase Production

  • Identify gaps to improve supply and demand
  • Develop shared use equipment co-ops
  • Expand market opportunities
  • Streamline food safety regulations

Goal 2: Increase Processing

  • Increase aggregation and storage facilities and capacity
  • Address regulatory barriers
  • Technical assistance

Goal 3: Increase Market Access

  • Add food hubs
  • Address gaps in the supply chain
  • Diversify products
  • Improve infrastructure
  • Formalize relationships

Goal 4: Increase Demand

  • Improve communication, including use of social media, videos, farmers market opportunities, agritourism, etc.
  • Tap into 4-H, FFA, etc.
  • Enhance consumer research

Goal 5: Increase Access

  • Use outreach and education to increase use of existing programs
  • Make markets accessible and offer alternative payment options

Goal 6: Increase Input Production

  • Increase training and education
  • Develop creative new partnerships for inputs, labor, etc.

Goal 7: Increase Producers

  • Increase and coordinate education
  • Enhance the Land Link Montana program
  • Increase farmer networking and co-ops

If you want to get involved with our Regional Food Economy Network, email us!