The Cascade County Planning Division has received a Special Use Permit Application to allow Madison Food Park, LLC to operate a food processing plant between Great Falls and Belt.
An overview of the project that was submitted to Cascade County officials several weeks ago says that Friesen Foods LLC acquired approximately 3,018 acres of undeveloped real estate located about 8.3 miles southeast of Great Falls.
The overview states that the proposed Madison Food Park will include, when complete, a multi-species food processing plant for cattle, pigs, and chickens, and the related further processing facilities for beef, pork, and poultry.
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; and a distillery which will source the grain necessary for the production of Montana-branded spirits from cereal crops grown in the region.
The facility would also include a large-scale packaging, transportation, and distribution network.
Developers expect that when the project is fully operational, it will directly create approximately 3,075 jobs, along with as many as 85 supporting jobs in the surrounding community.
Reaction to the news on the KRTV Facebook page varied; here are some of the comments:
- George Nikolakakos: I'm generally pro growth but these plants create a massive stench. When I lived just south of Omaha our whole town and base stunk for hours each week. In some locations it's worse than that. I'd also point out these will be overwhelmingly low wage jobs and these companies generally import massive amounts of illegal labor. In Iowa and Nebraska entire towns have been overwhelmed by a massive influx of illegal workers. Other towns have since learned the lesson and organized to deny these plants. So if you're in Belt and downwind you can expect a massive stench and influx of non English speakers into your schools. There is a a lot of preparation to deal with that if it's going to be approved. With all the empty space why not go a ways more out of the population center? The community needs to at least ask hard questions and make sure the plant is properly vetted and school, police, jails and civil organizations are ready for the consequences. Of course, before these guys buy the land they've usually already got the key players on board so fighting it will take a hell of a movement.
- Kathy Hedger Barts: Will local people be hired or people brought in? I lived in Worthington,MN. The stench from that meat processing plant was horrible and most of the worker were from Ethiopia, Vietnam, Mexico, Guatemala .....
- Wade Stout: Wow! I just sort of assumed that most would be in favor of something like this. Benefis has...I think, roughly 3000 employees. I'm sure the many concerns will be noted. Come on people, let's do our best to welcome in something like this.
- Matt Ott: Well let's see the hurdles to this. MEIC will certainly sue, cause the environment. PETA will sue, cause animals. Some grass roots organization yet to be formed will sue, cause my property value, ya know? So, good luck. The only winner, attorneys.
- Brad Onstot: Wow! This would be AMAZING for Great Falls!!
- Liz Mitchell: Leave it to those in "charge" to think this kinda thing is a "brilliant" plan. This is disgusting. Great falls is dying and this will top it. No one will want to move here.
- Jason Taylor: The county should expedite everything about this.
- Ed Caffrey: I suspect that the "officials" who have the authority to approve or deny this sort of thing will have only one consideration..... How much tax money can we make off this? I wonder if GF would pull another Malting Plant stunt.....let it go ahead, then once it opens, annex it into the city for the tax money. Based on the fact that GF can't supply enough workers, or more correctly....those willing to work, to staff the new Walmart, where are the workers for this plant coming from? Everybody who's mentioned "illegal workers" hit the mark.
The Special Use Permit application will have a public hearing by the Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment, which has not yet been scheduled, but a date and time will be set in the future.
We will update you as we get more information.