On Thursday morning, Governor Greg Gianforte gave some remarks at the Molson Coors grain elevators in Teton County after touring the elevators.
The tour was part of what the Montana Department of Agriculture calls a "value-added roadshow" to promote products and businesses in the Treasure State. Value-added agriculture refers to taking a commodity, such as barley, and turning it into something else, such as beer, thereby adding value to the product beyond its value in its raw form.
First outside the Molson Coors grain elevators in Power and then inside in the cool lower levels, Gianforte, grain growers, beer distributors. and members of the Montana Department of Agriculture learned Thursday morning about the role Molson Coors plays in value-added agriculture in Montana.
"This is all about creating more value so our producers in the state can keep more of what they earn,” Gianforte said.
Molson Coors' senior barley program manager, Wade Malchow, said the process of adding value to the company's barley has several steps. "The value-added step starts with our grower relationship,” Malchow explained. "Giving the grower transparency to where their grain is going. They can take a lot of pride in knowing that their barley is in our brand. Then, for us it's that supply assurance side and consistent high quality barley going into our process. We contract with specific growers on specific land that have specific capabilities."
Prior to the visit to Molson Coors, Department of Ag members toured nearby Smoot Honey Company.
"Our honey is a value-added product in that other folks can use it in their products,” Smoot Honey Company Owner Mark Jensen said. "It's a good way for us to get our product awareness out there first of all. It helps other folks create quality products for people to consume and it also helps the local economy."
"When we had an opportunity to sit down with the governor and really talk about 'What do we want to emphasize in Montana agriculture this year' we all agreed that value-added is where it's at. We need to be able to build this industry greater,” said Montana Department of Agriculture Acting Director Christy Clark.
The third stop of the day was Pasta Montana in Great Falls.
"Pasta is just durum (wheat) and water. It's not rocket science from an ingredient standpoint. You mix those two together and now you've got $35 million or $36 million worth of revenue coming into the state. So by taking that product and processing it before we export it, we're able to keep an additional $25 million within the state,” said Dan Bateman of Pasta Montana. "That's just what one little pasta plant in Great Falls, Montana can do. So you think about what that could mean for the state of Montana if the vast majority of our agriculture products could be furthered processed here in the state."
The group also visited Ag Processing Solutions in Great Falls, which designs innovative processing solutions for a variety of crops.
According to the USDA’s 2017 Agriculture Census, 292 farms across Montana were adding value to raw commodities, accounting for over $9 million.