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Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the designation at the Nebraska Cattlemen convention.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

December 13, 2021

2 Min Read
Buffalo County commissioner Ron Loeffelholz holding the Livestock Friendly certificate for the county
LIVESTOCK FRIENDLY: Buffalo County commissioner Ron Loeffelholz holds the Livestock Friendly certificate for the county while he speaks during the opening ceremonies at the Nebraska Cattlemen annual convention, which was held recently in Kearney. Loeffelholz is flanked by Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture director Steve Wellman (left). Curt Arens

Most of Nebraska’s 93 counties have plenty of livestock production and are friendly to livestock.

However, Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, noted at a press conference at the recent Nebraska Cattlemen convention in Kearney that Livestock Friendly-designated counties have gone through a special process.

This process includes application to NDA by individual counties to gain the designation, along with specific requirements from the county board — all with the goal of recognizing counties that actively support the livestock industry and offering producers operating within the county guidelines and expectations for production.

Buffalo County became the 51st county in Nebraska to gain this designation at a ceremony during the NC convention. Gov. Pete Ricketts said at the press conference, “I want to congratulate Buffalo County on becoming a Livestock Friendly County. This is a big deal. Agriculture is what we do in the state of Nebraska, accounting for $21 billion in ag receipts every year, and more than half of that comes from livestock.”

Ricketts said that if the state is going to grow, it needs agriculture to grow. “Ag is the heart and soul of our state,” he said.

According to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, Buffalo County had livestock, poultry and other animal product sales of more than $159 million, with total market value of products sold in 2017 at $332 million.

“Buffalo County is home to around 950 farms and many other businesses with direct ties to agriculture,” Wellman said in an NDA news release. “With the LFC designation, the people of Buffalo County are showing everyone that they are open for agribusiness.”

“It took a lot of work and persistence to get it [LFC] done,” said Ron Loeffelholz, Buffalo County commissioner. “I represent the second district in Buffalo County, and I farm north of Kearney myself. This is a long time in coming. We had a group of producers that brought it to us with the right people to answer questions, and got us through the process and got it done.”

NC president Bill Rhea offered his congratulations to Buffalo County on the designation. He also noted that NC played a crucial role in helping the original LFC legislation pass through the Nebraska Unicameral in 2003.

Ricketts noted, “We would like all of our counties to be designated Livestock Friendly, and that every county has that opportunity to be designated and to give some form of certainty to those producers who wish to expand livestock, so they know what to expect and are able plan for it. But it takes local champions within the counties to drive it. That’s why we need local folks to step up.”

Wellman echoed Ricketts’ comments. “We hope to find champions in those other counties, and we’d love to work with them to get them LFC designated,” he said.

Learn more about LFC online at

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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