(GREAT FALLS) Hundreds of people packed into the Missouri Room at the Civic Center which eventually turned into standing-room only on Saturday evening.
The group Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens hosted the public forum where three guest speakers talked about the environmental and economic problems that they believe the proposed Madison Food Park would create.
The people there all had the same reasons why they were against Madison Food Park being built, several miles southeast of Malmstrom Air Force Base.
They said they were worried about not only the smell that it would create, but also the water pollution and the amount of traffic that would increasing going to the food park.
Great Falls resident Sharon Patt-Griffin said she has done her research on what this type of business could mean for Great Falls.
“I understand their concerns for the economics in our town, we need business,” said Patt-Griffin. “I just hope that they will take the time to really investigate the facts regarding this possible business. I think if they do that they will make an informed decision and I can’t help but think that decision will be that this is not good for our community.”
Terry Spence, a consultant with Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, was one of the speakers at the forum.
He was joined by Dr. John Ikerd, a scholar and author on issues related to economics and agriculture.
He said industrial agriculture like Madison Food Park is destructive to the environment and has more health risks than any family farm.
Dr. Donald Stull was the third speaker at the event. He is the author of Slaughterhouse Blues.
Madison Food Park spokesman Todd Hanson responded to the event.
He said in a statement: “Madison Food Park encourages the free and open expression of alternative points of view, perspectives and independent analysis of what is Montana’s most promising agricultural business development project in the past fifty years. We support civil discourse, the respectful exchange of ideas and opinions and unfettered discussion that is conducted in a positive and productive manner free of intimidation, cyber-bullying, harassment, and threatening actions.”
Click here to read the submitted planning documents.
Friesen acquired approximately 3,018 acres of undeveloped real estate located about 8.3 miles southeast of Great Falls. The project will include a processing plant for cattle, pigs, and chickens, and the related further processing facilities for beef, pork, and poultry.
The project will also incorporate facilities for the processing of milk, supplied by local and regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products; and a distillery which will source the grain necessary for the production of Montana-branded spirits from cereal crops grown in the region.
Developers expect that when the project is fully operational, it will directly create about 3,075 jobs, along with as many as 85 supporting jobs in the surrounding community