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Proposed dairy processing facility secures $2.3 million bridge loan

A proposed cheese manufacturing plant planned for east of Great Falls recently closed on a loan with Great Falls Development Authority.

Big Sky Cheese, which will principally process fresh milk supplied by local and regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products, has closed on a $2.271 million bridge loan package.

The loan is the first step in the project that is part of Madison Food Park, the corporation that proposed building an agri-business commercial food park east/southeast of Great Falls in 2017.

Brett Doney, GFDA president, said they are excited about the project moving forward.

“We are trying to grow and diversify both our food and agricultural processing, which is essentially manufacturing, as well as increase agricultural production in the whole Golden Triangle region, which is our Great Falls trade area,” he said. “This will be a Montana branded product, Big Sky Cheese, so it will help promote Montana.”

Doney added Big Sky Cheese hopes to break ground next spring.

You can read more about Big Sky Cheese at Cascade County’s website.

(April 29, 2019) A proposal for the development of a dairy processing facility on property owned by Madison Food Park (MFP) was submitted to the Cascade County Planning Board last Thursday.

The principal owners of MFP intend to develop Big Sky Cheese, which will principally process fresh milk supplied by local and regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products, according to a special use permit application submitted on April 25.

The facility will be constructed on property owned by MFP, the corporation that proposed building an agri-business commercial food park east/southeast of Great Falls in 2017, totaling about 3,108 acres.

The application states Big Sky Cheese plans to build a primary dairy/cheese processing building and a secondary building/shop. The dairy processing building will also include a retail area for sampling and purchasing cheese products.

5-10 full-time employees are anticipated at this time, however, the application states the venture is expected to create employment opportunities and positions for laborers, and skilled and management level jobs.

The application states the facility will rely on fresh milk provided by area producers’ livestock and will be delivered to the site by trucks. No livestock or dairy cows will be on the property.

MFP believes the facility will average 6.86 trucks per day, or approximately 35 trucks per week, according to planning documents.

The dairy operations will require process water with estimated volumes of approximately 13,000 gallons per day (gpd), which equates to 10.4 acre-feet/year. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, an acre foot is enough to cover one acre a foot deep or 325,851 gallons.

The special use permit application states the underlying Madison formation can satisfy the volume of water. A well contractor will construct a test well and provide test pumping to demonstrate that existing wells on adjacent properties will not be impacted.

The facility will be served by onsite water and wastewater facilities and wastewater treatment will be completed onsite using Montana DEQ-approved systems.

The overall volume of process wastewater generated from dairy operations is estimated at approximately 13,000 gpd, according to the application, which would result in approximately 339,000 gallons of process wastewater each year under a 5-day/week operation. The process wastewater will be pretreated, then seasonally stored in treatment/holding cells, followed by reuse.

The proposed project site is located within the Military Overlay District surrounding Malmstrom Air Force Base.

As of April 29, a public meeting about Big Sky Cheese’s application had not been set.

Click here to read the Special Use Permit Application for Big Sky Cheese.

You can also visit the Cascade County Planning’ Division’s website to read more about Madison Food Park.

Margaret DeMarco

Margaret DeMarco

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