Lawrence County Leads with Agri-Ready County Designation
(JEFFERSON CITY, MO.) – Building additional opportunities for the local agricultural economy, Lawrence County has applied for and been granted Agri–Ready County Designation by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC), a coalition of 45 leading Missouri agricultural groups. This designation identifies counties that create an environment conducive to agricultural opportunity and growth which are willing to actively support Missouri’s largest industry.
“The Commissioners of Lawrence County recognize the importance of agriculture both in the economy and the opportunities for employment in our area. It is with great pleasure we accept the designation of being on the list of counties that are Agri–Ready. It is our hope this partnership will enhance agricultural opportunities for Lawrence County citizens,” stated Lawrence County Clerk, Gary Emerson.
In 2016, Lawrence County’s 1,849 farm and ranch families sold over $1 billion in agricultural products, according to the recently released Missouri Department of Agriculture’s (MDA)Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry study. Cheese manufacturing alone contributes over $179.6 million in sales to the Lawrence County economy. Agriculture, forestry and other related industries provided 3,536 local jobs, with $138.9 million in labor income. The county’s agricultural strength is anchored in the value of beef cattle, cheese manufacturing, turkeys, broilers, and dog and cat food manufacturing. The Lawrence County beef cattle industry single-handedly employs over 1,012 individuals in the area.
“I’m really proud to live and farm in Lawrence County,” said John Kleiboeker, a Stotts City cattlemen and agriculture lender at Arvest Bank. “Being an Agri–Ready county is important for the continued growth of both our livestock and crop production here. It’s wonderful that our Commissioners are so committed to production agriculture and recognize its importance to Lawrence County’s economy and our citizens.”
Through the Agri–Ready program, MFC will partner with county leaders, farmers and agribusinesses to advance local agricultural enterprise, promote the county as a conducive location for business expansion and enhance workforce readiness for agricultural careers. MFC will recruit local 4-H and FFA leaders to implement Agriculture Education on the Move™ in third grade classrooms. These student leaders will present agricultural careers and crop and livestock production through engaging, hands-on activities and lessons while developing their speaking and leadership skills. In addition, the collaboration encourages participation in the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, recognizing stewardship at the farm level.
“We look forward to working with county leaders in Lawrence County and other designated counties, who not only recognize the contributions of their local farmers and ranchers, but also actively continue to seek new opportunities,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of MFC. “Agriculture is the uncontested leader of not only Lawrence County’s economy, but the economy of every county in the state. Our partnership will work to build on the county’s agricultural strengths and support an environment that opens new opportunities for the county.”
MFC’s Agri–Ready County designation launched in December 2015 as a voluntary connection between Missouri counties and MFC. According to the MDA, Missouri agriculture provides 378,232 jobs and added $88.4 billion in net value to the state’s economy in 2016, making agriculture the largest sector of the economy. The Agri–Ready County designation recognizes and builds on the impact of family farmers and agri-businesses as key contributors to our economy and the quality of life in our communities.
Lawrence County joins Atchison, Audrain, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Dallas, Dent, Gasconade, Marion, Moniteau, New Madrid, Oregon, Osage, Pike, Saline, Scott, St. Clair, Stoddard, Washington, and Webster counties in achieving Agri–Ready Designation. 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. After application is received from the county commission, the MFC Agri–Ready Review Committee examines any local ordinances, regulations and statements of support prior to awarding designation.
For more information, visit us at www.mofarmerscare.com or view the 2016 Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry in Lawrence County presented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.