McDonald County Advocates for Local Agriculture Through Agri-Ready Designation

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McDonald County, a leader in livestock production and processing in southwest Missouri, 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 which create an environment conducive to agricultural opportunity and growth which are willing to actively support Missouri’s largest industry.

“McDonald County has been, and continues to be, an agriculture based county,” the McDonald County Commission said in a written statement. “The poultry industry has two large processing plants, a large hatchery and pet food operations in McDonald County. Many family farms are sustained by the poultry industry…These farmers and ranchers have invested their own money, labor and time to provide food for the nation and world’s dinner tables. We, as the Commissioners of McDonald County, wish to support and protect the agriculture industry not only in our county but also our state and country.”

Agriculture is already a force in the McDonald County economy. In 2016, the county’s 1,291 farm and ranch families sold over $1.3 billion in agricultural products. Agriculture, forestry and other related industries provided 5,020 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 the value of poultry processing, broilers and beef cattle.

“McDonald County Farm Bureau is a proud supporter of the Agri-Ready County Designation by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC) and is pleased that the McDonald County Commission applied for and achieved this important designation,” Jonathan Pierce, McDonald County Farm Bureau member said. “The agriculture industry is vital to not only McDonald County but to Missouri as well, and McDonald County Farm Bureau, alongside MFC, will continue to promote agriculture in McDonald County.”

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, crops 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.

“Missouri farmers contribute more than growing our food; family farms and agribusinesses are the foundation of the economy in Missouri communities,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of MFC. “This collaboration with county leaders, farmers and ranchers and Missouri Farmers Care will position McDonald County to make the most of agricultural opportunities. McDonald County possesses unique strengths which will be promoted through the Agri-Ready County Designation.”

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.

McDonald County joins Atchison, Audrain, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Butler, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dallas, Dent, Franklin, Gasconade, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Madison, Marion, Miller, Moniteau, Montgomery, Morgan, New Madrid, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Pike, Polk, 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 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 McDonald County presented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.