Washington County Supports Missouri’s Number One Industry; Receives Agri-Ready County Designation

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(JEFFERSON CITY, MO.) – In a move to encourage local farmers, ranchers and agribusiness economic growth, Washington County has applied for and achieved Agri-Ready County Designation by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC), a coalition of 44 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 Washington County Commissioners fully endorse Missouri Farmers Care’s efforts to promote agricultural products and processes,” said Washington County Commissioners Marvin Wright, Doug Short and Cody Brinley in a statement. “The County Commission feels that the certification program could be a benefit in job growth and possibly bring new business to our area and would like to thank Missouri Farmers Care for their efforts in this regard.”

In 2016, Washington County’s 531 farm and ranch families sold over $61.6 million in agricultural products. Agriculture, forestry and other related industries provided 716 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 wood container and pallet manufacturing, beef cattle, horses, and animal food manufacturing. Wood container and pallet manufacturing alone contribute over $15 million in sales to the Washington County economy.

“Being raised on farm, I have been involved with agriculture all my life,” said Jim Reed President of the Washington County Farm Bureau. “I first was made aware of the Agri-Ready program early last year at a farm show and decided to research it and other programs within Missouri Farmers Care. Everywhere I looked it was positive for the area. Young people don’t have the same experiences of the family farms as they once did and everyone needs to know where their food comes from and how it is grown. I believe the awareness of agriculture in an area can help the economy and bring more agriculture businesses to an area like Washington County with great people, interstate and great roads, and located 65 miles from one of the state’s major cities.”

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.

“It is a pleasure to work with the county leaders in Washington County and other designated counties, who not only recognize the contributions of their local farmers and ranchers, but also actively continue to seek avenues for new opportunities,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of MFC. “Agriculture is the uncontested leader of not only Washington County’s economy, but the economy of every county in the state. Our partnership will work to build on the county’s unique 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.

Washington County joins Atchison, Audrain, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Dallas, Dent, Gasconade, Lawrence, Marion, Moniteau, New Madrid, Oregon, Osage, Pike, Saline, Scott, St. Clair, Stoddard 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.

Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri’s farming and agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our communities depend. For more information about Missouri Farmer Care and the Agri-Ready County Designation program visit www.mofarmerscare.com or contact Ashley McCarty, Executive Director of Missouri Farmers Care at 660-341-8955.

For more information, view the 2016 Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry in Washington County presented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.