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Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center is a designated Food and Agriculture Development Center (FADC) and part of the FADC network. We are dedicated to helping food and agriculture businesses grow and develop their products and business models to support an equitable and thriving Montana food system.  

To get the most out of our services, click the button below to become a MMFEC client and gain access to our workshops, business training services, loan program, business development assistance, food product development and processing services, and more. 

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Food & Value-Added Agriculture Businesses Resources

A quick reference guide to commonly sought resources for starting a new food-based business, understanding food regulations, finding funding, market allocation and analysis, and connecting to other valuable networks and programs that can help you on your food journey.

Mission West Business Development Center
Our Business Development Center can help guide you through the stages of starting a business. We have a revolving loan program that can help business with financing, and our Food and Agriculture Department can further provide resources and assistance to create a thriving and resilient food-based business.
Mission West hosts numerous free workshops throughout the year to support business growth and development. Check out our workshop calendar for details.
Become a Mission West food and ag client to connect with a business or product development counselor.


Small Business Development Center Network
An extensive resource to find everything you need to get your business started. Register your business, get an EIN tax number, find licensing, and more. This site also provides a plethora of tips, templates, and guides for starting a business.


MT Department of Ag Business Acceleration Program
A revolving funding program for new and expanding businesses to add support to planning and development stages of business.


USDA’s How to Start A Farm Guide 
A resource page hosted by the USDA that includes a range of tips and guides from farm planning and farm business development to product marketing and conservation.

Agritourism is a way to combine the state’s two main revenue streams, agriculture and tourism. Agritourism helps farmers and ranchers diversify their revenue stream while sharing some of our local culture with visitors and educating the public on local food systems.



Mission Mountain Area Pedal to Plate
An agritourism event that combines cycle tourism with a scenic tour of agricultural landscape.
Mission Mountain Pedal to Plate Toolkit


Montana’s Agritourism Manual
A beginner’s guide to agritourism, full of resources, tips, and best practices.
A one stop shot for information about agritourism in Montana, how to incorporate it in your business plan, and connect with other agritourism businesses.


Abundant Montana 
Abundant Montana now offers agritourism listing opportunities. Check out for more information.


Agritourism Action Plan
Evaluating if adding agritourism to your business is right for you.


Developing an Agritourism Business Plan


Marketing Your Agritourism Business


There are endless marketing resources available these days. The resources provided here are focused towards supporting food and ag businesses. Check out the ‘Food Hubs’ tab further down in the section for more marketing resources and information for food and farming businesses.



Made in Montana
A program to assist Montana businesses with marketing and and product development to build more awareness towards authentically made Montana products. The Made in MT program includes Grown in Montana, Native American Made, and Taste our Place. Retail store and retail food establishments may also utilize the program if qualifications are met. Visit for more information.


Abundant MT
A directory to food and farm business with consumers and markets. Base listings are FREE!


Local Food Guide
The print version of Abundant MT with more advertising and marketing opportunities.


American Marketing Association
AMA offers a trove of marketing resources, information and templates. Check out the AMA Marketing Toolkit for a plethora of resources from communications and customer engagement manuals to search engine optimization guides and marketing budget templates.


MT Department of Agriculture Marketing Assistance
Submit your business information to the Ag Business Directory to receive updates from the Dept. of Ag regarding marketing and sales opportunities.


MT Dept. of Ag Market Development Program
Revolving funding assistance to help businesses access new markets, over come market barriers, expand digital presence, and tradeshow experience.


Montana Farm to School
A national program dedicated to brining local farm products into local schools to create more healthful, locally sourced school meals. MT F2S hosts regular producer trainings to help producers access F2S markets.

The list of organizations below all offer something unique to rural community development and the agricultural sector. We recommend subscribing to their newsletters, checking out their events, and engaging with them as much as possible to ensure you’re staying informed of the most current news and opportunities for food system involvement.


The Food and Agriculture Development Center (FADC) Network
The Montana FADC Network supports innovation, growth, development and expansion of businesses that create and sell food, agricultural, and renewable energy products. This helps generate wealth and job opportunities in our communities and in the agricultural sector. The FADC centers are spread across Montana and work together as a statewide network, serving local food and agriculture businesses.


Montana Department of Agriculture
If there was ever a one-stop-shop for food and agriculture resources, it’d be the Dept of Ag. Bookmark this website and use it as a primary resource.


Western MT Growers’ Cooperative (WMGC)
The WMGC is a producers cooperative that bridges the gap between producers and various markets throughout Western Montana and beyond. Check out the WMGC case study at the bottom of the page.


Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (CFAC)
CFAC focuses on food access, farmer support, and farmland conservation. They are an excellent resource for farmer training programs.


National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
A national organization that began as a sustainable resource and expanded to include sustainable agriculture. NCAT’s mission is rooted in sustainability serving underserved communities and creating a more sustainability, inclusive and diverse future in all forms.


Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
An affiliate non-profit of NCAT focused on providing multimedia resources and information on sustainable agriculture for farmers, ranchers, and educators.


Western Agriculture Resource Center (WARC)
WARC is an extension of Montana State University and conduct agriculture research aimed to benefit local producers and food systems. They are one of the best sources for growing resources and troubleshooting tips.


MSU Food Lab
The MSU Food Lab is an extensive food systems research program whose work extends beyond Montana and throughout the globe. They offer various food-based degree programs and are an incomparable resource for food-based research. MMFEC has partnered with the MSU Food Lab to host research projects to benefit value-added specialty crop sectors. Check them out at the bottom of the page.


Farmers’ Union
A grassroots non-profit centered around preserving agricultural culture and providing support for rural communities. They offer grants, scholarships, education, legislative representation, a meat processing coop, community memberships, and more.


Hopa Mountain
A non-profit dedicated to “investing in rural and tribal citizen leaders who are improving education, ecological health, and economic development” to improve communities across Montana.


Alternative Energy Resource Organization (AERO)
A grassroots organization acting as a network of collaborative communities to promote sustainable agriculture and responsible climate impact models and resources statewide. Check out AERO’s Food System Resource Library for all kinds of resources regarding Montana food system assessments, projects, toolkits, educational materials, and more.


Abundant Montana
An affiliate of AERO that acts a marketing resource for food and farm businesses to connect consumers to producers. Producer of the Local Food Guide.


Montana Farm Bureau Federation
A grassroots organization and largest statewide agricultural association acting as a representative voice for rural communities to improve agricultural sector and natural resource industry through education, program services, and political activism.


OSU Food Innovation Center
An Oregon State University affiliate acting as a resource to advance the northwest food industry through technical assistance, product development and analysis, food science and product testing.


Farm Commons
An incredible legal resource for agricultural businesses.


MSU Extension
An educational resource for agriculture and natural resources.


Montana Agricultural Business Association
A membership based association for agribusinesses to share resources and information.

Specialty Crop Program
Specialty crops can be defined as fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, peas and lentils, horticulture and nursery crops such as floriculture. Specialty crops enhance biodiversity, promote health and nutrition, and meet consumer demands to foster economic growth and agricultural sector development. Many programs and associations aim to support and promote specialty crops and is often in a producer’s best interest to purse specialty crop plans as a means to agricultural resilience.

List of Specialty Crops
Specialty Crop Block Grant – only larger groups (organizations, associations, cooperatives, etc.) are eligible to apply.  
CFAC Field Tested Mini-Grants
Montana Berry Growers Association



Montana Farm to School 
Farm to School programs connect local farms and locally grown produce to school lunch and nutrition programs. Farm to School offers training and market resources to help connect agriculture businesses and related organization to resources that help expand market growth and revenue opportunity.
Check out MMFEC’s Farm to School pilot project, Montana Marinara; “the first in a line of locally sourced value-added products designed with schools in mind.”

Food hub cooperatives are a rather recent innovation that assists producers in creating economic opportunity and infrastructure to gain access into new markets while reducing costs. Food hubs act as an aggregator, marketer and distributor for producers and in turn reduce transaction costs for buyers, making local food inputs and outputs more efficient and accessible to shorten the supply chain between producer and consumer. Food hub cooperatives give the farmer an equal share in ownership, allowing them to play an active part in decision making and an equal share in the profits.
MMFEC partners with The Northwest Food Hub and the Western Montana Growers’ Cooperative to help execute farm to institution initiatives that provide more markets for food and farm businesses and better access to healthful local food choices.


More food hub resources:


Western Montana Growers’ Cooperative Case Studies:

The term “value-added” refers to a transformative production process that enhances the worth and desirability of raw materials or commodities. A value-added food or agriculture product is a basic food commodity that has been transformed into new product through manufacturing, processing, or customization. The value-added goal is to create a product that possesses qualities that surpass the original inputs, making them more appealing and valuable to consumers, thus, creating higher value and revenue earning potential for the business. For example, raw commodities such as squash, onions, garlic, and tomatoes can be processed together to create marinara sauce, an appealing and convenient product for the consumer and higher revenue yield for the product manufacturer or farmer.

Introducing value-added production into an agricultural business model creates more opportunity for farming and ranching business to add more revenue to their business by increasing the value of the products they already produce. Value-added production lets agriculture businesses break into new markets, expand seasonal revenue with shelf stable products, and capitalize on turning waste products into a valuable commodities, like juice, purees, and sauces, or bone broth and animal feed.


USDA Value-Added Producer Grant

Most insurance agencies can provide farm coverage in your overall insurance bundle with your car and home insurance. But if your current insurer doesn’t provide those services or if you’re looking for something new, we have listed a few options here worth considering.



Farm Bureau Financial Services
A banking institution dedicated to serving farmers and ranchers.


Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company
A multi-line insurance company providing farm/ranch, auto, home and business insurance throughout Montana and Wyoming.

Food Safety Resources:

Food Safety is an area of expertise the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center excels in. There are only a few regulations in the state of Montana that require you to be food safe educated or certified, but there are also no regulations that will protect you from negligence should your product cause someone harm. Food borne illness is considered causing harm in a court of law. The resources found here are meant to inform you, and if you should need more guidance or assistance, please contact our Food and Ag Department. There’s a lot of stuff you should know about food borne illness liability, and we can help to ensure all the bases are covered.

Understanding and adhering to local, state, and federal regulations regarding food safety, labeling, packaging, and allergen information is crucial to keeping your customers safe and protecting your business assets. Establishing proper food handling and sanitation practices and maintaining high standards of cleanliness and safety is a first step in this process, and we recommend regular training and education to stay in line with food safety regulation and procedures.

The more you know about food safety, the more protected your assets, employees, and business will be.

Montana Local Food Choice Act (MFLCA)
The MFLCA, also know as Cottage Food Law, is a law that grants exemption to certain “producers who sell specific homemade food products from licensing,
certification, packaging, labeling, and inspection.” MFLCA gives producers easier access into new markets, but does not provide any protections to producers should their product cause illness or harm. It’s in the producer’s best interest to thoroughly review and understand MFLCA guidance, in addition to cottage food safe food handling guidelines, and the Cottage Food and Farmers’ Market resources provided by DPHHS. For further questions or assistance in this process, contact your local FADC.


AERO Value-Added Producer Success Program
AERO offers a myriad of resources for value-added producers trying to navigate the liability world of value-added production. This program will give you access to Food Choice Act Liability Workshops, Raw Milk Trainings, and soon to come Food Safety Assessment Tool.

To ensure safe food handling practices are observed to prevent food borne illness, Montana requires food vendors, food service establishments, temporary food services, food manufacturing establishments, and farmers’ markets to be licensed by the state. Food workers are also required to complete some degree of food safety training, depending on the position and establishment.

You can find information on how to attain licensing through your local county sanitarian.

More Retail Food Safety Resources:

Whether you’re a food producer, manufacturer, grocer, or server, you will require some degree of training along your food safety journey. Knowing which training is necessary for your operation and can be tricky, finding the right training at the right time can be even more so. Below are some descriptions of common food safety trainings for food processing and manufacturing. Food producers should undergo additional food training for harvest and post-harvest operations that abide by the Produce Safety Rule, and we recommend contacting the Montana Department of Agriculture for more information. Restaurants and food trucks see ‘Retail Food’ tab above.

Mission West offers assistance with understanding, acquiring and executing food safety in your product development and manufacturing. Check out our food safety page to review upcoming training opportunities and contact Joel Carlson or Liz Hansen for more information.


Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a management system that monitors food safety through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of finished product.
If you plan to, or already do, work with animal products, value-added production, or any degree of general food processing, you will need a HACCP plan and most likely a HACCP certification. We recommend contacting the MMFEC staff to schedule a consult to discuss the type of HACCP plan you’ll need for your product and how to acquire the necessary certification. If funding allows, Mission West hosts an annual HACCP certification course that comes highly recommended from industry leaders. Visit for more information.

More HACCP information and resources.

HACCP training overview

Do I need HACCP? 



Better Processing Control School (BPCS)
This is most applicable for heat processed low acid and acidified foods, like sauces, pickled products, soups, pet foods, etc.
Regulations require that operators of processing packaging systems and container closure inspectors be under the operating supervision of a person who has attended and successfully completed appropriate instruction as prescribed by FDA.
BPCS provides practical applications of principles set forth in the regulations and satisfy the training requirements of both FDA and USDA. We also host an annual BPCS training. Contact our department for more information.

Acidified Food Overview

Online Acidified Foods Manufacturing School

Processing Shelf Stable Acidified Foods in Sealed Containers



Preventative Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI)
Certain individuals and companies that pack, process, manufacture, or hold human or animal food may be required to have a certain number of staff PCQI certified.

AERO’s Food Safety Tool For Home Producers: A Guide to Food Safety Practices for Reducing Risk and Liability
A must-have guide for home producers.

Download the guide or pick up a physical copy at the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center.

Meat Processing Resources

Organizations across Montana are working on increasing meat processing availability and capacity. For more information on meat processing, contact Montana Department of Livestock or MMFEC director, Jan Tusick.

Whites Wholesale Meats
USDA inspected livestock slaughter, butcher, processing. Call for more information and scheduling.
33663 Terrace Lake Rd, Ronan, MT

M&S Meats


D & J Meats
Meat processor and butcher located in St. Ignatius with slaughtering service.


MT Premium Processing
A meat processing cooperative with a mobile processing unit located in Great Falls, MT.


Mobile Processing Unit
This USDA approved mobile processing unit comes to your farm or ranch and assists you with slaughtering and processing.

Local Meat Capacity Grant
Provides independently owned poultry and meat processing businesses with funds to update, modernize, and diversify processing capabilities and options.


Value-added Producer Grant

Assists producers enter into value-added production activities, create new products, and expand into new markets.

On-Farm Poultry Processing Manual

poultry processing manual

A guide and workshop companion to processing poultry under the 1,000 bird exemption.

Montana Poultry Growers’ Association
A poultry growing community that offers networking and educational opportunities, equipment rentals, and feed discounts.
[email protected]


Montana Meat Processors Association
A meat processing group that offers industry information, networking, education, training, and support.


Flower Hill/USDA Meat Processing Technical Assistance Program
The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity – Technical Assistance (MPPTA) Program offers technical assistance, and a range of other services, to meat and poulty producers to help them build a resilient and successful business. Be sure to fill out the TA form to apply for assistance.


Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network
An extension of Oregon State University dedicated to sharing information, opportunities, and resources with meat processors, producers, buyers, regulatory agencies, and other interested parties to better assist the needs of the northwest regional meat production sector.



Funding Resources

There are a number of grant resources that are a viable option for most established value-added businesses, however, we know navigating the grant world isn’t always easy and we’re here to help. Get in touch with our Food and Ag Development Center for grant writing assistance and guidance.

if you’re in the pre-venture or start-up phase of business and are having a hard time finding adequate funding options, consider our Mission West Loan Dept. Mission West offers financial assistance through our in-house revolving loan program. Contact our Business Development Center to see if you qualify for a Mission West loan.

Montana Department of Agriculture Grants and Loans
MT Dept. of Ag offers a wealth of agricultural grants, loans, and program resources. If you’re a fledging business in need of a funding boost, consider the Business Acceleration and Market Development Program.

Dept. of Ag funding quick links:

USDA Rural Development Grants and Programs
USDA RD offers a number of grants and programs for rural communities, it worth investigating all the USDA offers, but we recommend taking a closer look at the following USDA grants and programs for value-added businesses and producers.

CFAC Field Tested Mini-Grants
Up to $5k award for small scale Specialty Crop producers.


AgWest New Producer Grant
A small grant for new producers. Must be a new agricultural profession in business for less than 2 years or plans to start a business within a 2 year minimum, and cannot be a current AgWest customer.

MMFEC Research Projects

  • 2021- Freeze Dried Fruit and Smoothie: MMFEC Intern Report
    A value-added processing study of food production methods and protocols conducted at the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center to develop freeze dried product prototypes using small dark fruits. Full evaluation and analysis included.

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