Newton County Granted Agri-Ready County Designation

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Designation Extends Scope of County’s Support for Agricultural Growth and Opportunity

(NEOSHO, Mo.) – Expressing support for agricultural growth and opportunity, Newton 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.

“Newton County is excited to receive the Agri-Ready County Designation,” said Associate Commissioner Jim Jackson. “We realize agriculture is the backbone of our area and a driving economic factor; this designation shows long-time and new residents that we actively support agriculture.”

In 2016, the county’s 1,578 farm and ranch families and agribusinesses sold over $1.5 billion in agricultural products, translating into $385.8 million in added value to the local economy. Agriculture, forestry and other related industries support 4,561 local jobs, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry Study. The county’s agricultural strength is anchored in animal feed manufacturing, layers, broilers and beef cattle farming and ranching.

Through the Agri-Ready program, MFC partners with county leaders to advance local agricultural enterprise, promotes the county as a conducive location for business expansion and enhances workforce readiness for agricultural careers. To build agricultural literacy, MFC will recruit local FFA and 4-H students 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.

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.

“With $1.5 billion in agricultural sales, Newton County has established a powerhouse agricultural economy,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care. “We look forward to working with county leaders to build upon the county’s existing strengths. As one of 46 Missouri counties now designated Agri-Ready, our program can open doors to new opportunities on and off the farm. This collaboration with county leaders, farmers, ranchers of Missouri agriculture will equip the county to support additional agricultural growth and entrepreneurship.”

Newton County joins Atchison, Audrain, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Butler, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dallas, Dent, Franklin, Gasconade, Iron, Johnson, Laclede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Madison, Marion, McDonald, Miller, Moniteau, Montgomery, Morgan, New Madrid, Oregon, Osage, Pike, Polk, Randolph, Reynolds, Saline, Scott, Shannon, St. Clair, Stoddard, Sullivan, Washington, Wayne, Webster and Wright counties in achieving Agri-Ready Designation.

Counties wishing to apply for Agri-Ready County 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, view the 2016 Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry in Newton County presented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.