SHELBY, Mont. – In an editorial that appeared in the Great Falls Tribune’s “opinion” page on March 4, Larry Bonderud, mayor of the city of Shelby, spelled out the circumstances needed to move forward with a proposal for the construction of a new pork-processing plant in the city. Bonderud touted benefits that include job creation, growing demand for feed in the state and marketing a Montana food product to the world. But before such a project could become reality, he stated, “The type of pork production facility we are considering is very environmentally friendly. A similar plant sits in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark, and has no smell or adverse environmental impacts.”

Based on a feasibility study analyzing environmental permitting, business plan development and production requirements for facilities designed to process either pork, poultry or beef, it was determined pork was the most feasible, he wrote, “because of our close proximity to adequate hog production that would provide adequate supply numbers to assure that a pork processing facility would make business sense.

“We reviewed several business modules for a pork processing facility and in fact are still doing so. Shelby's close proximity to a good highway and rail system east, west, north, and south are all positive factors in considering locating a pork production facility at Shelby. We can be in fact a gateway to a worldwide market for pork.”

He went on to state that the study indicated hogs located in Montana and in Alberta would allow for about 500,000 head per year to be processed at the proposed plant, with the potential to increase that supply to 100,000 within three years.

“This would only happen if the pork producers were guaranteed a market for this pork by a new production facility,” he wrote, and this would require cooperation between the producers and the processing plant.

“The facility proposed for Shelby would be a state of the art facility and would depend heavily on robotic technology. The only waste stream for the facility would be clean water which would be used for irrigation. Everything but the "squeal" would be processed and sent to a worldwide market that utilizes the entire pork product.”

Besides requiring a larger hog supply in Montana, the new facility would also require venture capital to become a reality.

“If we do it for pork, beef and poultry processing in Montana would not be that far behind,” Bonderud concluded.