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Proposed 'Food Park' In Great Falls Promises Jobs, Prompts Local Concerns

Meat processing plant file photo.
Meat processing plant file photo.

Preliminary plans for the state’s largest slaughterhouse and meat processing plant are being laid in Cascade county.

Friesen Foods, an Alberta, Canada-based company, has purchased 3,018 acres of undeveloped farmland east of Great Falls to build the Madison Food Park complex, which Friesen says will employ 3,000 people and export thousands of tons of meat to consumer markets throughout North America.

George Nikolakalos is with Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens.

“We’re forever going to be known as the stinky slaughterhouse town if they open this facility,” he said.

Nikolakalos is part of a community organized effort opposing the food park. He says the project will negatively impact residents living nearby.

“There are serious concerns about these huge open air waste lagoons and the air quality I mean there are families living one mile away literally just a stone’s throw away,” he said.

The company has submitted a special use permit application to the Cascade County Planning Division for approval. In the application, Friesen says the facility will be “environmentally-friendly.”

Friesen says it plans to develop training and apprenticeships programs with Montana State University and local colleges to help train local residents for job opportunities at the facility.

State and county agencies are expected to begin evaluating the proposal in the coming months.

A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for early November.

Beau is a former Morning Edition host and producer and engineer for the MTPR program "Capitol Talk." He worked as a reporter, and hosted Freeforms once a month.
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