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Repeal of County Health Ordinance Opens Eligibility to Scotland County Commission
By Echo Menges
The Scotland County Commission has voted to apply to make the county “Agri-Ready” through the Missouri Farmers Care (MFC) group. The designation would benefit the county by opening it up to greater “ agriculture opportunities” by having access to the MFC collective as a support structure, and by bringing added programs and agriculture exposure to public school students.
“I’m excited to be in Scotland County,” MFC Executive Director Ashley McCarty told the trio of commissioners and a handful of attendees during a short presentation ahead of the vote on Wednesday morning, March 30, 2022. “I think Scotland County is a perfect fit to become an Agri-Ready designated state. Agriculture is undoubtedly and undisputedly the economic driver here.”
According to McCarty, the MFC Agri-Ready program began in 2015. Since then, 64 Missouri counties have signed on to be designated. The program, which is similar to the work-ready communities push, can also help to attract and foster agriculture business to the county. The closest Agri-Ready counties to Scotland County are Macon, Marion and Sullivan counties.
“You can see just exactly who Missouri Farmers Care is through this power of partnership form. It is the dairymen, the dog breeders, the cooperatives in the state, the corn growers, soybean producers, cattlemen, pork producers, FCS Financial and many many more,” McCarty told the Commission. “It is a voluntary, no-cost partnership to counties that, again, is very driven.”
The caveat to joining the consortium of counties signing on to be Agri-Ready designated is to meet specific qualifications as being agriculture-friendly. County health ordinances eliminated Scotland County from eligibility. After abandoning the county health ordinance, the county commission became eligible to apply to MFC when they repealed the law last month.
“I have counties that have repealed their health ordinances to become Agri-Ready designated. So, Caldwell did that two years ago. Henry County probably repealed theirs two years before that to become Agri-Ready designated,” McCarty told The Memphis Democrat. “So, Camden County just repealed their health ordinance last Tuesday, in order, in part, to become Agri-Ready designated. They felt like they were leaving too much on the table. They had a health ordinance, which was now null, void, and unenforceable – yet they couldn’t become Agri-Ready because that unenforceable ordinance was still on the books.”
According to McCarty, others “that have township ordinances or planning and zoning regulations” are “looking to work through to remove the barriers to become Agri-Ready” as well.
The immediate benefits of joining the program would be joining the partnership with MFC’s collective of agriculture businesses, training and educational opportunities for students, namely FFA and 4-H members, third-grade and pre-school classes in a public school setting, and a professional marketing video emphasizing the attributes of the county. McCarty emphasized the Agri- Ready designation as being moldable to meet the specific needs of each county that participates.
The public meeting was attended by all three Scotland County Commissioners, Presiding Commissioner Duane Ebeling, Eastern District Commissioner Brent Rockhold and Western District Commissioner David Wiggins, along with County Clerk Batina Dodge. Farm Bureau representative Chris Mallett, Missouri Corn Growers representative Kevin Buckalew, Dr. Larry Wiggins DVM and this reporter were also in attendance for McCarty’s presentation.
“You guys are doing a great job,” Scotland County Farm Bureau representative Chris Mallett told McCarty. “We need to promote Missouri agriculture and stay ahead of the curve because (the) future’s not looking good sometimes.”
“I’m just here as a visitor. I’m here to learn something, and I think this is a good program,” Dr. Larry Wiggins said following McCarty’s presentation.
“I’m excited for the opportunities this can bring in Northeast Missouri and I think this is a great step in the right direction for this county and the people of this community,” said Missouri Corn Growers Rep. Kevin Buckallew. “Thank you for taking the time to consider this and move in the right direction.”
The Commission voted unanimously to apply for the designation, which is a step in the process. Next, MFC will go over the application.
“We then have a committee that’s made up of ag-leaders from across the state and staff of our ag-leading organizations that review the application and make sure they meet the specifications which are also contained here. Which, they do, now that the county health ordinance has been repealed,” said McCarty. “And then, we’ll vote to accept the county into our partnership. Then, we’ll update our maps, and we’ll send out news releases – so that all of our partners know this is a great place to house a business or support local. This isn’t just about bringing business in. This is also about supporting growth from within.”
A video of McCarty’s full presentation and the Scotland County Commission’s subsequent vote is available on our website memphisdemocrat.com.