Members of the Washington County Cattlemen want the county’s government entities to officially show their support for agriculture.

It’s one of the goals the group has set for itself this year and the reason behind the group’s effort to get Washington County designated as a “Livestock Friendly County,” said Tom Schweers, secretary/treasurer of the cattlmen board.

The Nebraska Livestock Friendly County program is a voluntary program that recognizes counties that actively support the livestock industry. As part of the program, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) partners with counties in the program to encourage development of the livestock industry in the county.

Schweers said the group has approached the Washington County Board of Supervisors about the designation and he hopes it’s something that can get done this year. As part of the program, the group must also get city councils and village boards in the county to also support it, Schweers said.

“I think it would be a good thing that indicates to people that we are not just an urban county, that we will think agriculture is important,” said Schweers, who thinks the support is there.

The designation doesn’t affect any zoning regulations currently in place.

“It indicates that if somebody was looking to bring business to this ares, that the county still considers agriculture important,” Schweers said.

Currently, 24 counties have the designation, according to the NDA website, including nearby Dodge and Cuming counties.

The NDA said the designation is a “strong statement of support for animal agriculture” and it initiates a conversation among county residents about the impact livestock has in the county, as well as how the industry is supported.

While Schweers said the designation is mostly a “label” it doesn’t make it any less important. As part of the designation, signs would be placed at county entrances announcing that it is a livestock friendly county. It’s something Schweers can’t wait to see.

“When you read it, you just kind of feel that this area feels like agriculture is important,” he said. “It’s still the biggest industry in this county and state.”

For more information on the Livestock Friendly County program, visit the NDA’s website, www.nda.nebraska.gov.

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