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Program matches Montana born, raised, and fed cattle with local restaurants and retailers.
November 8, 2023
The Montana Stockgrowers Foundation (MSF) Cattle Drive program has set out to do something no other cattle organization in the state has done—match Montana born, raised, and fed cattle with local restaurants and retailers. The “Montanans Feeding Montana Initiative” seeks to connect the Montana food service industry to the high-quality beef raised by Montana ranchers.
The Cattle Drive program is in its sixth year, with this year launching the value-added focus that intentionally pairs partners together to keep the entire beef supply chain in Montana. One of the program’s goals is to economically increase profitability for everyone involved.
“Montana Stockgrowers understand the importance and desire of customers to know where their food comes from. What we have strived to do is link some of the best producers in the world, that are right here in Montana, with Montana consumers. We have it all right here in Montana. We have the best ranchers in the world, we have feedyards, and we have a lot of feed coming off the Yellowstone Valley that is being fed. To link Montana consumers through Montana restaurants and retail is really a win-win for everyone,” explains Turk Stovall, MSGA second vice president and owner of Yellowstone Cattle Feeders.
Each fall the MSF Cattle Drive program seeks steer donations from ranchers and businesses across the state. Donated animals are transported to Yellowstone Cattle Feeders in Shepherd, Mont., where they are put into the program and fed to ideal market weight. When each steer is at optimum weight, the process to match the donor’s steer with a restaurant or retailer in the region in which the steer had originated starts. Working with Blue Creek Marbled Meat Company the steer is harvested. Over 85% of the total steers donated in last year’s Cattle Drive were sold to local Montana retailers and restaurants through this Montanans Feeding Montana Initiative.
“I have always had a deep appreciation for where the food is coming from, what it’s eating, where it’s been, who’s handled it. To be able to come out to Yellowstone Cattle Feeders, from day one, and be able to see that and be hands-on in the process, it’s been an incredible experience,” shares Andy Glynn, executive chef of Billing’s High Horse Saloon and Eatery. “Anyone can go to the grocery store and pick up beef and take it home, put it on the grill and have dinner. But I want it to be more than dinner. I want it to be a meal. I want it to be a memory.”
Feddes Family Meats in Amsterdam, Little Belt Cattle Company in Bozeman, High Horse Saloon and Eatery and the Northern Hotel in Billings, and the Black Iron Grill Rotisserie in Miles City all participated in this year’s program. Additionally, Bret and Kim Lesh purchased beef through this program.
Now, MSF has released a short film promoting the “Montanans Feeding Montana” initiative and highlighting one of the unique partnerships Montana Stockgrowers has created through this program. The film focuses on how the program works and the benefits to every sector in the pasture to plate experience. It includes interviews from Montana Stockgrowers members and Montana ranchers, a restaurant owner, and executive chef. Find the video at www.mtcattledrive.org.
“The primary goal of the program is to raise funds for the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to support educational programs for producers, youth and the general public, academic scholarships, grants, and support leadership opportunities for those in the cattle industry,” says Heidi Kool, MSF program coordinator. “This is also an exciting opportunity for ranchers to consider participating in because donors receive steer progress reports and carcass data of their steer’s performance against the best cattle in the state.”
Donations are currently being accepted for this upcoming year. To donate contact MSF Program Coordinator, Heidi Kool at [email protected]. MSF would like to thank all of its generous donors who have participated over the past six years of the program.
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