You are currently viewing Montana Has More Cows Than People. Why Are Locals Eating Beef From Brazil?

Cole Mannix, of Old Salt Co-op, is trying to change local appetites and upend an industry controlled by multibillion-dollar meatpackers.

“Making It Work” is a series is about small-business owners striving to endure hard times.

While many people can conjure up romantic visions of a Montana ranch — vast valleys, cold streams, snow-capped mountains — few understand what happens when the cattle leave those pastures. Most of them, it turns out, don’t stay in Montana.

Even here, in a state with nearly twice as many cows as people, only around 1 percent of the beef purchased by Montana households is raised and processed locally, according to estimates from Highland Economics, a consulting firm. As is true in the rest of the country, many Montanans instead eat beef from as far away as Brazil.

Here’s a common fate of a cow that starts out on Montana grass: It will be bought by one of

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