Montana beef processing ramps up with help from feds, but more butchers are needed

Starting a ranch from scratch is no easy task, but Heidi and Gary Todd were determined to do so. They’d measure their revenue in pennies per pound and stay involved with their lambs and cattle from birth to butcherblock.

“We have always had a love and passion for agriculture,” Heidi Todd said. “I come from a ranching background. My parents ranch. He comes from a ranching background. We both continued our educations in agriculture (at Montana State University). We love raising livestock. We both still have off-ranch jobs.”

It helped that Gary’s town-job was at Big Timber’s Pioneer Meats, one of a dozen or so Montana processors that has gained a toehold in the competitive retail grocery market. Soon, the Todds were being counted among the wave of Montana producers getting meat to market without feeding into the supply chain of a large meatpacker.

People are also reading…

The number of cattle slaughtered in Montana has increased 75% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by rancher frustration with monopoly meatpackers and emptying refrigerated meat cases in grocery stores.

In 2022, more than 37,000 head of cattle weighing 500 pounds or more had

View Source