Hall County receives Livestock Friendly County designation
Governor Ricketts attended the state fair breakfast on Sunday and gave out a special distinction to Hall County – deeming it the 42nd Livestock Friendly County in the state.
The governor said that it's about balancing rural life for ranchers and residents.
"That Livestock Friendly designation really lets the world know that Hall County is open for business," Ricketts said.
And in Nebraska, business equals agriculture.
"One in four jobs in Nebraska is tied back to agriculture, so even though you have a big urban area in Grand Island here, it's important that we continue to grow agriculture and figure out livestock," Ricketts said.
The Livestock Friendly County program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
"A county doesn't really give up any of its local control to become a Livestock Friendly County," Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said.
When a county becomes livestock friendly, it is open to new agricultural developments.
"By looking at their regulations and procedures they go through to grant conditional use permit or not, that's how the department decides whether or not they fit into the program,” Ibach said.
The program also protects those who aren't in the industry but live rurally, by making them aware of these regulations.
"Moving into a rural area, they're not saying, 'no you can't,' but they want to go through a process that makes sure that they're aware that maybe there are going to be a few more flies because they're in close proximity to a livestock operation," Ibach said.
Because Hall County is one of the larger rural counties in the state, it makes the designation unique.
"Hall County is about 56,000 people and about 48,000 of them live in Grand Island. It's also got about $350 million in ag sales, at least in 2012, and about $120 million, or about a third of that, is livestock," Ricketts said.
One of those Hall County ranchers is Gregg Robb, who said being livestock friendly is to be neighborly, too.
"We need open lines of communication with your neighbors. Nobody wants to be at odds with their neighbor - we all want to get along. I think, if there's clarity and everybody knows what the rules are and everybody follows them, things are great– you get along fine," Robb said.