The county commissioners approved a contract with McMichael Management Services of Carbondale for a fruit and vegetable feasibility study at their Feb. 5 meeting.
The study was authorized in November 2017, when Delta County and Montrose County entered into a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the feasibility of a regional produce processing facility. The two counties will share equally in the cost of the $15,000 study.
Elyse Casselberry, community and economic development director for the county, said the county received four good proposals. McMichael Management Services has the best background for what the two counties want to see happen in this study, which is Phase 1 of the feasibility study.
McMichael will assess the market concerning the different processing methods, such as individual quick frozen, dehydration, juicing, and other processes. The study will look at value-added opportunities for crops coming out of Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties, and the market may extend to Cortez regarding processing opportunities.
The study will provide an assessment of the produce volume in the region, the external market for that produce, and evaluate whether a regional facility could process produce at a level to provide opportunities for value-added manufacturing to occur.
If the Phase 1 study provides information that indicates there are conditions to justify a regional processing facility, the counties will look for grant funding for a Phase 2 study, through READY grants through Colorado Department of Local Affairs or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.