Press release: Speaker sees local economic growth through local foods – April 1, 2015

April 1, 2015

Categories: Agriculture, Events, Food, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

By Northern Plains Resource Council

What would $5 a week buy you? If Billings residents spent that $5 on Montana homegrown foods, it would mean about $31 million for Billings’ economy.

KenMeter_Billings_RossettoFarm_WEB_2015-03-31That was the message Ken Meter, a food systems analyst from the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, brought to more than 100 people at the Billings Public Library on Tuesday night.

In his presentation, “Building Our Local Economy with Montana Food,” Meter outlined a variety of ways in which robust local food economies have developed across the country, and detailed the economic boon that buying more local foods could create in Montana.

“If Billings citizens were all to spend just $5 a week on Montana food, that would return over $31.2 million to the Billings area economy,” Meter said. “Right now, the way the food system is structured though, it takes the wealth out of local communities.”

“In Montana, farms sell $765 million worth of products, but spend $828 on inputs and other expenses. That’s a loss of $64 million, or nearly $11,000 per farm. If you ask me, that’s not sustainable.”

Although not all local foods businesses survive, Meter has seen many develop that fill the needs of a community, and are incredibly successful.

“One producer built his own bottling machine and runs an entire dairy,” Meter said. “Many producers work directly with other producers and communities to build networks that benefit everyone. It just takes creativity and cooperation to get it going, then it’s a strong system that can continue to grow.”

Billings businesses that support Montana producers by selling local foods include the Fieldhouse Café, Lilac, Ten, Walkers, and the Good Earth Market.

Northern Plains Resource Council and Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council hosted Ken Meter’s visit to Billings.

220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154