The Producer Partnership, a Light in the Darkness
I turned 25 years old on Feb. 28, 2022, and was able to spend the entire day with my husband, parents and in-laws – all people I love dearly. I went to bed on my birthday in a good mood and woke up in an even better mood: I’d had a great weekend, was blessed with a surprise visit from my parents and ate steak not once, but twice.
I was looking out the window, thinking about how great my life has been recently between family, work and friends, and although I wanted to scour the internet and look for a vicious anti-ag story, I couldn’t bring myself to do it today. So, I’m going to enlighten my readers on something genuinely and purely good in the world today: my full-time job a.k.a, the Producer Partnership.
The Producer Partnership is a Montana non-profit whose mission is to end hunger in Montana through the work of farmers and ranchers. I am the program administrator/media and marketing manager for the Partnership, meaning I handle all media and marketing tasks as well as a few other administrative type tasks.
The Producer Partnership was founded as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by my boss, Matt Pierson. Matt had the idea in April 2020 and donated a cull cow to the Livingston Food Resource Center and shortly after, he coordinated the donation of other cull cattle and cash to offset processing costs.
As the weeks turned into months and donations were on the rise, the Producer Partnership became a full-on, non-profit organization with a board of directors to boot. There was one problem, however, and this was with processing capacity.
Backing up a bit and explaining more of how the Producer Partnership works, our organization mainly receives animal donations of cull cattle. Cull cattle are basically excess stock, they’re usually the cows who are injured or can no longer have calves.
Traditionally, cull cows are typically sold at auction but normally don’t bring much money. My husband always jokes, “it’s not even worth the fuel bill to take the cow to the auction yards,” in some cull situations. This is where the Producer Partnership comes in.
A livestock producer can donate a cull animal to our operation, and we will get the animal processed into ground beef. The hamburger is then donated to the Montana Food Bank Network who distributes the protein around the state. The ranchers receive a tax receipt for their charitable donation and the warm-fuzzies in their heart for doing a good deed; hungry Montanans get fed and the employees of the Montana Food Bank Network and the Producer Partnership stay busy. In other words, it’s a win-win-win.
This model worked great at first, but as I stated earlier, the issue of finding open spots in processing facilities became troublesome. Most local plants were full and busy, and eventually we turned to a processing facility in North Dakota.
However, right before I was hired in April 2021, the Partnership Board voted to put a down payment on our very own modular-processing facility.
This facility was delivered in December and let me tell y’all: IT IS AWESOME. Our processing unit has the capacity to harvest 15 cows per day and already exceeds my expectations. We will hopefully be able to process our own animals here in the coming months.
We have hired more employees and will hire a few more as well, and the plans to have a kick-off donor appreciation party this summer are in the works.
To say I am blessed to work for this organization is a complete understatement. Not only do I get along incredibly well with my bosses and co-workers, I am able to use my creative skills to do some good for the Big Sky State.
Since the organization’s foundation, Producer Partnership has donated 96,882 pounds of ground beef to those in need. To put this into perspective, this is 387,528 quarter pounders.
We have helped the hungry and will continue to do so in the coming years and beyond. It’s 100 percent charitable, from the bottom of our hearts and everyone whose involved in our organization, from the donors to the distributors. It’s, as my gramma likes to say, “the Lord’s work.”
I know this isn’t the typical anti-ag hating column y’all are used to, but today, I wanted to lighten the mood a little, share some good going on in the world. Between a potential World War III, political discourse and the general chaos of society, it’s nice to know there’s a light shining in the darkness.