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Taking action to support additional opportunities for the local economy, Saline County has applied for and achieved 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.

“Home to some of the richest farmland in the world, Saline County would seem like a no man’s land without agriculture,” said Presiding Commissioner Kile Guthrey. “Our area successfully produces large volumes of grain, which we then have the ability to transport via rail to other areas of North America. Because of this and many other aspects of agriculture, when people think of Saline County, they think of agriculture.”

In 2016, Saline County’s 959 farm and ranch families sold over $1.3 billion in agricultural products. Agriculture, forestry and other related industries provided 4,288 local jobs, according to the recently released Missouri Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry Study. The county’s agricultural strength is anchored in the value of frozen specialties manufacturing, oilseed farming, hogs, and other support activities for agriculture and forestry. Frozen specialties manufacturing alone contributes over $420.2 million in sales to the Saline County economy.

“Leaders in Saline County are proud of their strong farming roots. And for good reason,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of MFC.  “Agriculture is the uncontested leader of not only Saline County’s economy, but the economy of every county in the state. Our partnership will build on existing agricultural strengths, tying together the assets of strong community spirit, highly productive farmers, biofuels production and support for agricultural education and jobs for the future.”

Through the Agri-Ready program, MFC will partner with county leaders 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.

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.

Saline County joins Atchison, Audrain, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Dallas, Dent, Gasconade, Lawrence, Marion, Moniteau, New Madrid, Oregon, Osage, Pike, 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 the 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 Saline County presented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.