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.

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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!

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