Vernon County Marks Milestone by Becoming 50th County Designated Agri-Ready

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO ­- Continuing to express support for agricultural development, education, and economic growth, Vernon County is the 50th county in Missouri to receive the Agri-Ready County Designation by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC), a coalition of 46 leading Missouri agricultural groups. This designation identifies counties that create an environment conducive to agricultural entrepreneurship and opportunity which actively support Missouri’s largest industry.

“Agriculture is the largest industry in Vernon County by far.” said Jay Sloniker, Nevada FCS Financial Vice President and local agriculture producer.  “Agriculture has a huge impact on the job market here. In addition to those who are directly involved in production ag, there are hundreds of jobs in the county centered on the processing, marketing, and distribution of the ag production. We are excited to be Agri-Ready and look forward to keeping our ag economy healthy and support a thriving rural community.”

According to the most recent data available, agriculture in Vernon County generated $951.9 million in agricultural product sales, which translates into $395.5 million in value-added to the local economy in 2016. Agriculture, forestry, and other related industries support 3,572 local jobs, according to the 2016 Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry Study. The county’s agricultural strength is anchored in the value of hog and beef cattle farming and ranching.

“The designation tells people that we are serious about agricultural needs in the state of Missouri,” said Cindy Thompson, Vernon County Northern Commissioner. “We think the designation is certainly a plus, not only for our county, but our region as well. It will help promote growth of what we have available in our county and bring more agricultural opportunities too.”

Through the Agri-Ready program, MFC partners with county leaders to advance local agricultural enterprise, promote the county as a prime location for business expansion and enhance workforce readiness for agricultural careers. In addition, MFC recruits local 4-H and FFA leaders to implement Agriculture Education on the Move™ in third grade classrooms. These student leaders will present agricultural careers, crop science, and livestock production segments through engaging, hands-on activities and lessons while developing their speaking and leadership skills. The collaboration encourages participation in the MDA’s voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, recognizing stewardship at the farm level.

“Vernon County’s designation marks a milestone for the Agri-Ready County partnership, with 50 counties achieving designation since January 2016,” says MFC Executive Director Ashley McCarty. “The county possesses many agricultural assets – engaged agricultural leaders, productive farms and ranches and a history of processing and value-added agriculture. This designation can be used as a catalyst for leaders to pull together and bring new opportunities to Vernon County.”

MFC’s Agri-Ready County Designation launched in December 2015 as a voluntary connection between Missouri counties and the Missouri Farmers Care organization as a whole. 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.

Vernon County joins Atchison, Audrain, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carrol, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dallas, Dent, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Henry, Iron, Johnson, Laclede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Madison, Marion, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Montgomery, Morgan, New Madrid, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Pike, Polk, Randolph, Reynolds, Saline, Scott, St. Clair, Shannon, Stoddard, Sullivan, Washington, Wayne, Webster, and Wrights 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 Vernon County Fact Sheet presented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau, and Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.