A new interactive online map created by Montana’s Department of Agriculture paints a picture of the potential for improving Montana’s food system infrastructure and providing new economic opportunities for agriculture and locally-grown food products.
Based on the outcome of a 2011 economic analysis commissioned by Lake County’s Community Development Corporation, Nancy Matheson and her team undertook the massive chore of coding and labeling each establishment that is part of Montana’s system of food commerce including producers, processors, distributors, retailers and more.
Matheson, who is the special projects coordinator for the Agriculture Marketing and Business Development Bureau of the Montana Department of Agriculture, said the map will always be a work in progress as data is updated, but for now, the U.S. 93 corridor along the five counties in Western Montana is the most comprehensive.
“We used information from the Department of Health’s food license database to code each establishment,” Matheson said. “We were surprised to realize that 25 percent of Montana’s licensed food businesses are in the five counties that make up the U.S. 93 corridor. So that’s why the Western Montana portion of the map is the most complete.”