HELENA, Mont. (October 26, 2023) – The Montana Stockgrowers Foundation (MSF) Cattle Drive program has set out to do something no other cattle organization in the state has done—match Montana born, raised, and fed cattle with local restaurants and retailers. The “Montanans Feeding Montana Initiative” seeks to connect the Montana food service industry to the high-quality beef raised by Montana ranchers.
For the Miles City area, that means a local cattle producer’s animal has been paired with a local restaurant to offer a pasture to plate experience for consumers. Black Iron Grill Rotisserie, was one of the first restaurants to join the initiative and commit to purchasing an animal from the Cattle Drive. The only requirement for participating, the restaurant/retailer must take the entire animal to use in their establishment. Black Iron’s rancher match was Monty Lesh, owner of Lesh Cattle Company, and a local rancher from Miles City.
“This program is creating a win-win-win scenario for the Montana beef industry. We are able to feature the superior genetics of the cattle born and raised in Montana, in partnership with Yellowstone Cattle Feeders we are able to feed the steers in the state, and local restaurants and retailers are able to feature Montana beef in their establishments and provide and experience to their customers with 100% raised and harvested,” explained Monty Lesh, Miles City rancher and Montana Stockgrowers Association Southeastern Director. “One of our program’s goals is to economically increase the size of the pie for everyone involved.”
Supporters, Bret and Kim Lesh of Ekalaka, were also able to take advantage of supporting the Cattle Drive by not only donating an animal to the program but also buying their Cross W Ranch’s beef back once the animal was ready for market.
The Cattle Drive program is in its sixth year, with this year launching the value-added focus that intentionally pairs partners together to keep the entire beef supply chain in Montana. Each fall the MSF Cattle Drive program seeks steer donations from ranchers and businesses across the state. Donated animals are transported to Yellowstone Cattle Feeders in Shepherd, Mont., where they are put into the program and fed to ideal market weight. When each steer is at optimum weight, the process to match the donor’s steer with a restaurant or retailer in the region in which the steer had originated starts. Working with Blue Creek Marbled Meat Company the steer is harvested.
“The primary goal of the program is to raise funds for the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation to support educational programs for producers, youth and the general public, academic scholarships, grants, and support leadership opportunities for those in the cattle industry,” shared Heidi Kool, MSF Program Coordinator. “This is also an exciting opportunity for ranchers to consider participating in because donors receive steer progress reports and carcass data of their steer’s performance against the best cattle in the state.”
Over 23 steers were donated to the program from the southeastern region of the state. Over 85% of the total steers donated in last year’s MSF Cattle Drive were sold to local Montana retailers and restaurants through this Montanans Feeding Montana Initiative.
Donations are currently being accepted for this upcoming year, to donate contact MSF Program Coordinator, Heidi Kool at [email protected] or (406) 461-0642, or visit www.mtcattledrive.org. MSF would like to thank all of its generous donors who have participated over the past six years of the program.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation was established to ensure the future of Montana’s cattle industry through producer and public education, and promotion of MSGA programs. The Foundation supports the next generation by offering educational programs, academic scholarships and providing leadership opportunities.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots membership organization and is the trusted voice of cattle ranchers. With over 135 years of history, MSGA advocates and ensures cattle ranching remains relevant, safe and a sustainable way of life for generations to come.
Director of Marketing & Communications
To view more MSGA news, visit https://mtbeef.org/news/