Cole County Attains Agri-Ready County Designation
(JEFFERSON CITY, MO.) – Cole County has joined a growing list of counties showing support for Missouri agriculture with designation as an Agri-Ready County. Interested in supporting agriculture as a component of a strong economy, Cole County has attained Agri-Ready CountyDesignation by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC), a coalition of 36 leading Missouri agricultural groups. Designation identifies counties that create an environment conducive to agricultural opportunity and growth which are willing to partner in actively supporting Missouri’s largest industry.
“Cole county is not only a hub for agribusiness and agricultural policy, we also have a strong base in production agriculture,” said Jefferson City resident and executive director/CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association and Merchandising Council Gary Wheeler. “More than two thirds of Cole County is farmland, and those farm families raising crops and livestock are fueling the economy of the county and our communities from Russellville to Eugene to Taos.”
During the last USDA Census of Agriculture, Cole County‘s farmers and ranchers produced crops and livestock with more than $38.3 million of sales value, an 11 percent increase over the previous census. The 1,055 farm families in the county raise food, fiber and fuel from 176,306 acres of land, with farms averaging 167 acres in size.
“Missouri farmers contribute more than just growing our food, family farms and agribusinesses form the foundation of the economy in Missouri communities,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of MFC. “This collaboration will position Cole County to capitalize on agricultural opportunities. As the home of the state Capitol and located strategically along the Missouri River, Cole County possesses unique strengths and assets that will be promoted through the Agri-Ready County Designation.”
Through the Agri-Ready program, MFC will partner with county leaders, farmers and agribusinesses to advance local agricultural enterprises and workforce readiness for agricultural careers. MFC will recruit local 4-H and FFA leaders to implement Agriculture Education on the Move™ in Cole County third grade classrooms. This partnership will present lessons on agricultural careers and crop and livestock production through engaging, hands-on activities while providing speaking and mentorship opportunities for the selected high school participants. In addition, the collaboration includes promotion of the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, recognizing stewardship at the farm level.
“We take our farmland for granted as we drive through the county, but with two-thirds of ColeCounty being farms, they add considerably to Cole County‘s economy,” said Sam Bushman, ColeCounty Presiding Commissioner.
The Agri-Ready County designation recognizes and builds on the impact of family farmers and agri-businesses as key contributors to our economy and our communities. According to the USDA, Missouri agriculture added $5.2 billion in net value to the state’s economy in 2014, making agriculture the largest sector of the economy.
Cole County joins Atchison, Audrain, Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Dallas, Gasconade, Marion, Moniteau, New Madrid, Oregon, Pike, Saline Scott and Webster counties in achieving Agri-Ready status. Counties wishing to apply for Agri-Ready designation must meet program requirements, including no ordinances regulating agriculture more stringent than state law and support of agricultural stewardship, growth and opportunities. MFC’s Agri-Ready County designation launched in December 2015 as a voluntary connection between Missouri counties and MFC.
Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri’s farming and agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our communities depend. For more information about Missouri Farmers Care and the Agri-Ready CountyDesignation program visit www.mofarmerscare.com or contact Ashley McCarty, Executive Director of Missouri Farmers Care at firstname.lastname@example.org.