Ag Week Celebrated in Central City; Merrick County Honored as Livestock Friendly

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CENTRAL CITY, Neb. -- Agriculture Week is a time every year in Nebraska where people acknowledge the #1 industry in the state. Governor Dave Heineman and the Department of Agriculture are traveling the state to celebrate.

Ag Week is a time to teach those not involved in the industry all about agriculture.

"I think it's an opportunity for people that are 2nd and 3rd generations removed from the farm to be able to spend some time during Ag week, hear stories about agriculture, and understand what production agriculture today really means," said Greg Ibach, the Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

And even the Governor travels to tell Ag stories, because of the state-wide significance.

Governor Heineman said, "When agriculture does well, main street Nebraska does well and that makes me very proud as the governor of this great state."

As part of Tuesday's celebration the public had the rare chance to walk through the brand new livestock facility in Central City. An opportunity that likely will never be offered again.

"Quite honestly we are taking a risk by bringing this many people through, potentially dragging in a virus of some sort, but we also believe that it's extremely important for the community and the public to see what happens inside of a modern livestock facility," said Mark McHargue, the owner and operator of the facility.

Central City was chosen because of a significant honor Merrick County received Tuesday along with Dawson County.

"Here while we're in Central City, we're celebrating the designation of Merrick County as a Livestock Friendly County," said Ibach.

McHargue, a Central City resident, added, "Livestock has always been a big, big part of Merrick County, I mean it's almost 1/2 of our Ag receipts, but all it does is kind of say we're open for business and if you abide by our zoning rules and regulations and you follow the guidelines, livestock's welcome in Merrick County."

Merrick becomes the 26th Livestock Friendly County in Nebraska.

"It just goes to show you that everybody in this state understands the value and the importance of agriculture. We know it's the number one industry. Jobs come out of this industry all across the state, including food processing for example that occurs in our major urban areas in Lincoln and Omaha," said Governor Heineman.