York County receives Livestock Friendly designation

York County receives Livestock Friendly designation Main Photo

13 Sep 2016

By Melanie Wilkinson, Managing Editor of York News Times

YORK – The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the office of Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts officially declared York County to be Livestock Friendly during a brief ceremony held at the courthouse Tuesday morning.

The York County Commissioners recessed their regular meeting at 10:15 a.m., and met with many livestock producers, community and business leaders, FFA students, and state and local officials under a tent on the courthouse lawn.

The sprinkling rain and colder temperatures did not diminish the enthusiasm as Lisa Hurley, executive director of the York County Development Corporation thanked everyone for attending “this exciting celebration.”

She noted the attendance of Lt. Governor Mike Foley, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, District 24 Senator Mark Kolterman, municipal representatives, a representative from Congressman Adrian Smith’s office, students from the McCool Junction and Heartland School Districts, AFAN (Alliance for the Future of Agriculture) representatives and others.

“All of us have an interest in supporting and nurturing agriculture in York County and in the state,” Hurley said to the crowd. “We recognize its economic impact.”

“Agriculture is what Nebraska is all about,” Lt. Governor Foley said. “And we are grateful for the hardworking people who contribute greatly to our economy. This is a $25 billion industry in Nebraska – and more than half of that is from livestock production.”

In the same token, it was recognized how the grain industry goes hand in hand with livestock production – as do the other avenues of agribusiness.

“There is a great success story of agriculture in York County,” Foley continued. “York County meets all the requirements of being designated as Livestock Friendly and now joins 37 other counties to receive this important designation. I commend the county board for making that statement, through their application. It shows you recognize the tremendous impact on the economy. This provides a notice that York County is open for agribusiness and responsible livestock production.”

At that point, Lt. Governor Foley presented a plaque to Commissioners Bill Bamesberger, Jack Sikes, Kurt Bulgrin, Randy Obermier and Paul Buller, which stated the official designation.

“I want to thank the lieutenant governor, Mr. Ibach, State Senator Kolterman and all of you for taking the time to be here today,” Bamesberger said. “Thank you to all the communities in York County who showed their support and I want to point out that it was Lisa (Hurley) and Kurt (Bulgrin) who met with all the municipalities and came back with this approved designation. Thank you to all of you who showed your support during our public hearing on this matter. I think this will enhance our opportunities to promote and support the livestock community, all of agriculture, as well as commercial and industrial endeavors in York County. I also want to note that permits have been approved for a 40,000-unit chicken farm and a 2,500-hog facility in York County since this process started.”

“I want to thank the county board for having the vision to get this started and make it happen,” Sen. Kolterman said. “By the time my term ends in the legislature, I hope to see all of District 24 be designated as Livestock Friendly.”

Jason Perdue, a local producer, also addressed the crowd. “I want to start by thanking our county board for moving forward. It has been talked about for years and it took a certain board to make it happen. One project I’m working on is the 40,000-chicken operation . . . we broke ground yesterday. This gives me and my family extra support. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.”

Max McLean, a York County beef producer, said he wanted to “echo Perdue’s comments. Thanks for all the work to get this rolling. This is a great show of support for the livestock people, and for all the corn and grain producers – we need each other. I’m a third generation feeder and we have a fourth generation coming back. We are looking at maybe a fifth generation, too. So it’s good to know there is support for your industry and for your livelihood. We can make young people realize that they can come back and make their dreams come true. This is great program – and this is not a free pass. We still have to follow all the regulations, we still have local, state and federal regulations to follow and our animal husbandry has to be top notch.”

Hurley again recognized the presence of McCool and Heartland FFA students . . . while also noting that York FFA students were not able to attend the event because they were at Husker Harvest Days.

Upon invitation, Jerod Schwartz from the McCool chapter addressed the crowd. “This stresses the importance of agriculture for us young kids. Growing up in agriculture, you learn pretty quick what livestock means to us. Livestock operations help us to grow locally and keeps the dollars generated in the local economy. Through FFA and 4-H we learn hard work and responsibility . . . and this shows the county respects this industry.”

“York County is an agricultural power house,” Director Ibach said. “Look around York County – if you want to grow agriculture, you can’t grow cropping much because all the land is already being used for that. If you want to grow agriculture further in this county, you put livestock on those pivot corners” and create new avenues through livestock production. “I am very excited to see this kind of support in York County and across Nebraska. It really is true – as agriculture goes so goes our state’s economy. We have seen renewed interest in livestock – we still have lots of open area for opportunity.”

Hurley also thanked Commissioner Bulgrin “for taking the lead on this project” and York County Zoning Administrator Benjamin Dennis “for all the behind the scenes work to make the application a reality.

“And most of all, I want to recognize the York County ranchers and farmers, for their hard work and investment in this county,” Hurley said.

Created in 2003 by the Nebraska Legislature, the Livestock Friendly program is designed to recognize counties in the state that support the expansion of the livestock industry. It gives counties an extra promotional tool to encourage the expansion of current livestock operations and attract new businesses and spur local economies – while also recognizing local zoning, state and federal regulations.

The other counties in the state that have been designated as Livestock Friendly are: Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Burt, Cuming, Dakota, Dawes, Dawson, Deuel, Dodge, Fillmore, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hamilton, Hayes, Hitchcock, Holt, Howard, Jefferson, Johnson, Keith, Kimball, Knox, Lincoln, Merrick, Morrill, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Saline, Saunders, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Thayer, Wayne and Webster.

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