The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska awarded its first $5,000 Livestock Friendly County Grant in November to the McCook Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) in Red Willow County.
AFAN provides an award of up to $5,000 per application from previously designated livestock-friendly counties to support a multitude of projects and campaigns developed by local stakeholders to encourage and support agriculture, livestock, and related food processing in their counties. Red Willow County was designated a Livestock Friendly County in January 2018 by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Brief presentations from Will Keech, AFAN's director of livestock development, and Andy Long, executive director of MEDC, preceded the grant presentation.
"AFAN is committed to helping Nebraska counties attract ag industries to their communities by providing the Livestock Friendly County Grant," Keech said. "We are happy to present our first grant award to Red Willow County. The MEDC put together a compelling application outlining their needs and marketing plans."
Andy Long, with MEDC, stressed that agriculture is the foundation of Red Willow County's economy.
"A large percentage of McCook's economy is directly related to our agriculture industry," he said. "Our cattle producers and complementary businesses are vital to our economic success."
The grant "will provide the catalyst for our efforts to improve value-added recruitment efforts,” Long said. “Anything we can do to help our producers increase their revenue is a bonus to the entire region."
According to Long, the grant will allow the MEDC "to start our own digital marketing efforts to value-added agriculture operations and gives us focus on our recruitment efforts. The grant has already resulted in some strong conversations about opportunities we have locally to play to our strengths."