By Missouri Farmers Care (MFC)
With interest in supporting agriculture as the foundation of the county economy, Atchison County has applied for and attained Agri-Ready County Designation by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC), a coalition of 36 leading Missouri agricultural groups. This designation identifies counties that create an environment conducive to agricultural opportunity and growth and are willing to actively support Missouri’s largest industry.
“Atchison County has always been economically driven by agriculture,” said Curtis Livengood, Atchison County Presiding Commissioner. “The Agri-Ready County Designation is notification that we understand our history and welcome agriculture business for our future.”
Atchison County’s farmers and ranchers sold $169 million in market value of agricultural products in 2012, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) most recent agricultural census. The county is in the top five in Missouri for production of both corn for grain and popcorn. The census counted 395 farm families in Atchison County spanning across 263,088 acres of land. These farms are an average size of 665 acres per farm, which is a ten percent increase from the 2007 census.
“Agriculture is such a strong economic component of many counties and Atchison County is living proof of that,” said MFC Chairman Alan Wessler, D.V.M. “We are pleased to announce Atchison County has achieved Agri-Ready Designation and recognize the county’s strong commitment to farmers and ranchers. This designation showcases the solid economic contribution of agriculture that helps maintain the roads, bridges, schools, and hospital that add value to the economy and the quality of life in this county.”
Through the Agri-Ready program, MFC will partner with county leaders, farmers and agribusinesses to advance local agricultural enterprises and 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. This partnership will present agricultural careers and crop and livestock production through engaging, hands-on activities and lessons while providing speaking and leadership opportunities for high school participants. In addition, the collaboration includes promotion of the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, recognizing stewardship at the farm level.
“The leadership of Atchison County possesses an interest in supporting the men and women who provide the food, fiber and jobs upon which the county’s economy depends,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of MFC. “This collaboration with county leaders, farmers, ranchers and Missouri Farmers Care will equip the county to encourage further agricultural growth and entrepreneurship.”
MFC’s Agri-Ready County designation launched in December 2015 as a voluntary connection between Missouri counties and MFC. According to the USDA, Missouri agriculture added $5.2 billion in net value to the state’s economy in 2014, 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 our communities.
Atchison County joins Audrain, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Dallas, Gasconade, Marion, New Madrid, Pike, Scott 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, zoning regulations and statements of support prior to awarding designation.
Missouri Farmers Care, comprised of 36 agricultural businesses, trade and commodity organizations, is entrusted with advocating, defending and educating about agriculture and its importance to our state. 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.