Catalyzing Increased Agricultural Sales through a Common Understanding of Montana's New Food Modernization Law

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $22,332.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, corn, flax, millet, oats, potatoes, wheat
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, berries (other), berries (blueberries), cherries, berries (cranberries), melons, peaches, pears, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, marketing management, e-commerce, labor/employment, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, urban agriculture, employment opportunities, social networks


    Montana’s new Food Policy Modernization Law (Food Law) passed during the Montana Legislative Session of 2015, offering new and exciting opportunities to encourage food entrepreneurship in Montana. AERO saw the need for and value in educating Montana producers, food entrepreneurs, local health officials, nonprofits, and business and economic development educators about the Food Law and, most importantly, how to take full advantage of the new opportunities the Food Law created. AERO partnered with employees of the Food and Consumer Safety Section (FCSS) of the MT Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) in the preparation of workshop content, and workshop delivery. This public-private partnership worked well and participants appreciated the opportunity to interact with both the state regulators and the county sanitarians whose participation was solicited by the FCSS leadership. Day-long workshops were held in Bozeman, Billings, Arlee, Great Falls and Kalispell between April 5 and May 12, 2016. A total of 118 people participated in the workshops. Feedback was received from nearly 60% of the workshop participants and a follow-up survey 6 months after the workshops was also conducted. An interactive forum for participants to interact with one another was created; that website also housed information about the workshop and supporting materials; feedback was received from participants through several follow-up surveys and 10 participants provided in-depth interviews about their experiences from and after the workshops. Over 90% of the attendees who responded felt the workshop was worthwhile and more opportunities should be planned for the future.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of the workshops were to:

    1. Learn about Montana’s Food Law history, new opportunities and implementation requirements and strategies.
    2. Build relationships among Montanans who want to start or grow a food business, the Food Law’s regulators, and resource people who can provide assistance and support.
    3. Help participants better formulate their food business ideas and plans.
    4. Identify questions, needs, further research and next steps in implementing the Food Law.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.