“Thumbs Up To Madison Food Park” Says Local Writer

Great Falls, Montana is a great destination for any responsible Agricultural based processing industry. Madison proposes to put in a ‘State of the Art’ processing plant here. The new plant says eventually they will employ up to 3,000 people! If they are serious, have financing and regulatory permission in place they will be a very important and welcome part of the economy of our area.

People now working in Great Falls, many of whom are presently working more than one part time job, could be the basis of initial employment at the new plant.

I do not know what they mean by a decent hourly wage but just understanding the math of employment some figures are exciting to anticipate on a full time basis. $13.00 per hour wage equals $27,040.00 per year and a $16.00 wage equals $33,280.00 per year (Based on a 40 hour work week) add benefits including Social Security and a health plan and we have a workers middle class wage structure. The wages shown are for lowest level workers and are not indicative of work floor leaders, middle and upper management, office work and other necessary people for any plant of this size.

“If this plant hires up to 3,000 people that means there will be competition for available workers. This plant will bring up the hourly wages of most workers employed elsewhere in Great Falls. Do the math, if what they say is true we are looking at up to a $100 million payroll in Great Falls, and if they present competition for workers here the averages will go up for people working other jobs.”

A major cloud on this horizon is taking up to 3.5 Million gallons of water a day from the Madison Aquifer. Engineers with proper technical knowledge should comment on this part of the plan. One possible alternative is to not take water from wells but to make a deal with the City of Great Falls, to supply water from our present and expanding water treatment facility. Under present regulations it is possible for the City of Great Falls to do this supply. The City could annex the plant itself to the City. Madison would have to pay for water used, expansion of our water plant for the additional load and the pipeline to the plant. An immediate benefit would be the expanded tax base created.

Economic factors for manufacturing plants show that anywhere from one to 18 people are eventually needed for support facilities for every job in the manufacturing sector. This would be a manufacturing job creator. There will be an expanded feedlot industry, more Hog Barn Facilities, Poultry raising facilities and Milk Cow production to meet the future needs Friesen states are their goals.

This is a town with an oil refinery and formerly a huge metal smelting facility and they managed to minimize or eliminate smells and pollution. I am sure that Madison will have to mitigate any such smells or pollution. Madison/ Friesen is a Canadian based company and in my opinion the Western Canadians are just other Americans who live north of Great Falls. If they are willing to come here to build such a plant then we should give them a fair chance to do just that.


The following is taken from the City of Great Falls Codes. They can supply water outside of the City.

Official Code of the City of Great Falls 13.2.080, Part C primarily, that provides:

“13.2.080 – Service area.

The utility system service area shall be:
A. Inclusive of all premises annexed to the City and bounded by the incorporated City limits, as such limits may be adjusted by the City Commission; and

B. Restricted to those premises abutting a public right-of-way or easement and directly adjacent to a sanitary sewer or water main location therein. The sole exception thereto shall be those buildings and service lines in place and legally existing prior to the adoption of the ordinance codified in this section.
C. Notwithstanding the limitations of the service area described in paragraph A and B, the City Commission may extend the service area beyond the City limits where there are uniquely exceptional circumstances that are not conducive to immediate annexation; and, where the City utility system has the capacity to serve such extension; and, where appropriate, the party requesting services provides an engineering analysis demonstrating the feasibility of the extension. Such an extension of utility services shall be by written contract and contain the following conditions:
1. All parties must execute written consent of annexation forms, as a condition precedent to the extension of requested services. The consent forms shall be made a part of the contract for use whenever the City initiates such annexation of the extended service area; and,
2. All parties must agree to be bound by all the rules and regulations of the City’s utility system and all Federal and State requirements related thereto; and,
3. All parties must agree to pay such other fees for service and/or fees in lieu of taxes, as deemed necessary and appropriate by the City; and,
4. All parties must agree to restrictions on future subdivision of the property or expanded development of property that increases demand for City services; and,
5. All parties must agree on prezoning of property and compliance with zoning regulations applicable to prezoning designation; and,
6. All parties must agree on compliance with City building and fire codes, plan approval, payment of fees, and submission to inspection of improvements where permissible under state statutes; and,
7. All parties must agree on financial responsibility, including consent to and waiver of protest for creation of special improvement districts, for the installation, construction and reconstruction of infrastructure to City standards, including, but not limited to, water mains and hydrants, sewer mains and lift stations, storm water facilities, streets, curbs and gutters, and sidewalks; and,
8. All parties must agree on compliance with any City Code applicable to any service provided by the City; and,
9. All parties must agree on plan approval, construction oversight, final acceptance, easements, and ownership by City of infrastructure installed for the City service being provided; and,
10. All parties must agree on legal and physical access provided to the property being served; and,
11. All parties must agree to upgrade and transfer public utility systems and appropriate utility easements to the City; and,
12. All parties agree such an extension of utility services shall be constructed in accordance with the design and specifications approved by the City Engineer; and,
13. All parties agree the cost of such an extension of utility services shall be borne by the owners of the property to be served; and,
14. Upon annexation, all parties agree that Title 17, OCCGF, Land Development Code requirements must be met inclusive of signage, parking, landscaping, lighting; and,
15. All parties must agree to utilize the City’s Fire Department for fire protection services. The Fire Marshall will be required to review and approve area site plans to ensure sufficient access and other fire department considerations; and,
16. All parties must agree that all right-of-way, easement, or land dedication necessary for construction, installation and maintenance of the extension of utility service shall be obtained by the requesting party at the expense of the requesting party.

The contract for extension of the service area must be in legal form, as approved by the City Attorney; run with the land; be signed by owners of the land area to be considered for inclusion in the water or sewer service area; and be recorded with the County Clerk and Recorder of Cascade County.”

Posted by Jerrold Weissman

Jerrold "Jerry" Weissman is a longtime Great Falls businessman who is active in local community issues.

Reader interactions

2 Replies to ““Thumbs Up To Madison Food Park” Says Local Writer”

  1. If this is the best argument the pro slaughterhouse folks could muster it speaks to the weakness of their case. Municipal water is not on option, they would never be able or willing to pay the incredible amount that would cost. End of the day it all comes from the Madison anyway. Municipal sewer would be more feasible and helpful in reducing risks. The jobs argument, forwarded based on assumptions and a hunch, is no less grounded in fact or silly.

    If anyone wants to dig into dozens of studies, articles, or real world examples visit http://www.protectthefalls.com or our Facebook page. We just posted posted the One Montana Feasibility study Friesen’s consultant likes to cite. It breaks down the feasibility of a MT slaughterhouse including wages by position. The wages are overwhelmingly “fast food” level, 10-14 an hour. They then average in CEO, CFO etc. salaries and come up with an average per hour wage that is higher because that sleight of hand makes it sound a whole lot better.

    The study called for a medium sized plant, about 150 workers and 250 head of cattle a day. It looked at Butte, Billings, and Great Falls as potential locations. Few people would raise an eyebrow or protest a reasonable sized plant of that nature. Butte, the study determined would have a hard time filling the 150 jobs but Great Falls, with a larger population base, could do so with effort. Now, consider that this project is 20x the size of the one called for in the feasibility study. It is absurd to think that these workers will come from in country, much less in state or locally.

    No, the wage competition and upward pressure
    Mr. Weissman speculates about won’t happen just as it doesn’t happen in any of the other slaughterhouse towns around the nation. Quite the opposite. Americans don’t take these jobs for low wages and brutal conditions. In fact, due to the incredibly high attrition rate (40%) when the companies import labor they create a revolving door flow of near poverty level hard working residents willing to work for low wages. This puts downward pressure on wages hurting our locals. It’s the same reason why even in high cost of living California you can still find a guy to work for 10 bucks an hour and as any employer here will tell you, myself included, those wages will get you nothing but a chuckle around here. I, for one, think it’s a good thing that a local kid who can swing a hammer can still demand a decent wage.

    Wages in the 10-13 dollar range are near poverty level and the simple fact is the people in these salary brackets use much more in services than they pay in taxes. The body of evidence is long in slaughterhouse communities all around the nation. Schools suffer, medical services suffer, law enforcement suffers etc. There’s a reason towns across the nation are rejecting these plants, they’re a terrible deal for communities and decimate quality of life. I, for one, like living in Montana and would like it to maintain that spirit. There’s just no way to slice it. If you dig just a little under the surface, which this author clearly has not done, this proposal is a terrible deal for the vast majority of us.


  2. Weissman? Yeah, maybe you could run it, Jer, just like you did your LAST one………. RIGHT INTO THE FRICKIN’ GROUND! Or did you forget about that? We didn’t. Too funny. If you folks are gonna let someone spout, find someone who KNOWS what they’re talking about. And that ain’t Jer!


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