County ZBOA approves two meat processing facilities

The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustments approved two meat processing facilities in the county during an Oct. 29 meeting.

The first is for The Butcher Block Custom Meats to build a 6,500 square foot facility about 2.25 miles west of Ulm that would process beef, pigs buffalo, sheep and potentially goats.

The Butcher Block is currently located at 4125 2nd Ave. N. and owner Bob Bixler is planning to move so that he can expand his USDA-permitted processing facility. 

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“The proposed facility will consist of new buildings and gravel-surfaced parking areas to house the new facility which will also include a small retail store-front where goods produced onsite will be sold,” according to the application.

The facility will have fencing to house livestock onsite for up to 24 hours prior to processing, according to the application.

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Currently, The Butcher Block has five employees and anticipates having 12 at full capacity, according to the application.

“The proposed facility will process livestock consisting of the following animals: beef, pork, sheep, buffalo, and potentially goats. While the anticipated volume of each animal may vary depending on demand, the estimated number of each animal processed is included below. Please note, overall system sizing was determined based on peak beef processing estimates and the inclusion of other livestock animals for processing will limit the number of beef processed during the subject week to maintain consistent waste production (i.e. waste production will be generally consistent while the number and type of animals processed may vary),” according to the application.

The estimated livestock processing, according to the application, is:

  • Beef: initial = 80/month, full capacity = 200/month
  • Pork: initial = 60/month, full capacity = 150/month
  • Sheep: initial = 10/month, full capacity = 25/month
  • Buffalo: initial = 1/month, full capacity = 5/month
  • Goat: initial = 5/month, full capacity = 12/month

The facility will include about 175-square feet of retail space as well as about 200-square feet of office space.

Kevin May of Big Sky Civil and Environmental is helping the applicant on the project and said that the facility will use four acres for the building and associated water and wastewater systems on a 160 acre parcel.

Bixler said the bulk of his clients will be producers who need USDA certification for their private label businesses and some of the meat will be offered for sale through the new retail storefront.

Lisa Schmidt, a rancher in Conrad, said she uses The Butcher Block and Bixler’s new plan is critical to her expansion plans.

The ZBOA also approved a small facility planned by Todd Standley for 1125 River Road in Cascade.

Standley already ranches the property and plans to build a 3,000-square foot facility that will process up to six beef, 3-4 pigs and 3-4 lambs weekly.

There was no opposition to either facility and both special use permits were approved unanimously.