Originally published in the 5/26/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.
SHEPHERD — Spring is peak jerky season.
So, for S&T Project Meats to suddenly have their jerky – their best-selling product – recalled by the government and to be forced to pull it from shelves, has been a devastating blow for this small family-owned business, located near Shepherd and Huntley on Highway 312.
All the more painful, given that there is nothing wrong with the meat — the action came as a result of efforts to improve upon the processes required of them by the state and the federal government. State inspectors imposed the recall on May 5, after failing to acquire documentation from the company, which the owners said they did not know they had to have. A meeting in the Yellowstone County Commissioners’ board room on Thursday was about more than hoping to get the Montana Department of Livestock to rescind the recall; they are fighting to retain the reputation of their small business upon which their livelihood is based.
Commissioner John Ostlund put the issue on the commissioners’ regular discussion agenda after being approached by Flowers about possible recourses open to them, saying that he did not believe that they were being treated fairly by state regulators.
In attendance at the meeting were public health officials, a representative of the governor’s office, other jerky manufacturers in the state, and supporters of S&T Project Meats.
Ostlund said that he was concerned about the impacts that the action has on local business and the local economy. “This is more than just confusing” for the producers, said Ostlund, “it is a crisis” given its impact to their businesses.