Monday, February 28, 2011

No Decision on Watauga County Farmer's Market

At the County Commissioners' "pre-budget retreat" on Saturday, the subject of leasing the parking lot at the Social Services Building on W. King Street came up again ... somewhat contentiously.

Commissioner Jim Deal wants to do everything possible to keep the market viable and intact, so he said he was in favor of leasing the parking lot on Saturdays during the summer to the Watauga County Farmers Market for $1, with the market paying for county costs like an attendant, clean-up, etc.

Commission Chair Nathan Miller said he thought $7,500 rent was reasonable. We can't just let the market use a county asset for free, when we could be using that asset to raise money, Miller said.

Deal: But who else is wanting to use that space? And you're not looking clearly enough at the benefit the market is to our county. We have big budget issues, but $7,500 isn't doing to make a dent in that, and killing the market will affect many people negatively.

Commissioner Vince Gable said that he'd agree to $5,000 in rent. He also said the market was for profit and that the county should not be facilitating a for-profit enterprise.

Deal said the Watauga County Farmers Market itself is non-profit, though individual vendors are making money. But no one's getting rich, and it's a service to thousands of people, Deal added.

Commissioner Futrelle said, "It would be a travesty if our actions caused the break-up of the market."

The commissioners were very aware that a new board of directors will be voted in at the Farmers Market in March, and in the end they suspended their argument, agreeing to wait until there is a new market board to negotiate with.

Clearly, there will be no unanimity going forward on (a) the value of the market to the citizens and (b) whether county government should nurture it.


Watauga TAXPAYER said...

The various independant grocery stores and vegetable stands around the county ALSO serve the community; buy produce locally and are an asset to the community in every way that the vendors at the farmers market are.

AND, they pay taxes to the county rather than ask the county to subsidize their rent for them.

Now some of the special interests in this county, who always HATE corporate welfare (except when they love it) want to provide free rent to these entrepreneurs so that they can compete with the very businesses that are supporting this county with their

Many of the vendors are not even selling local produce. Some of them are themselves, not county residents. They sell birdhouses, produce bought at wholesale markets, whatever....why should the county give them free rent?

I would like to open up an automobile auction on weekends, Can I count on the Watauga County commission to provide me with free space for me to do it?

This isn't about deciding if the farmers market is a goood thing or not. This is about the county providing free rent to ANY group of people chosen by them.

The Farmers market has been paying 10,000 $$$$ a year rent where they are. They have managed to put over 16,000 in their bank account and are still only charging their vendors from 12 to 16 dollars a week rent. IF they get the county property, they say they will expand to 109. Even if they don't raise vendor rents, the additional vendors will provide them appx $450.00 a week ADDITIONAL revenue. Let them AT LEAST pay the county $450.00 a week!

Henery said...

Watauga Taxpayer is mimicking Deborah Greene's recent ltr in the Watauga Demo about the Farmers Mkt.

Philosophically, we so GET the Republican position, and we can thank you for clearly identifying why we always dread having Republicans in charge of budgets: as it's been said on this blog before, you're all about the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Selfishness raised to the nth degree!

Watauga TAXPAYER said...

Selfish? Is it selfish for those vendors who want free rent to expect the county to provide it for them? How about the new produce guy at the corner of the 105Ext and StFarm Road. Should he get a break on his taxes for that property or should he be taxed and the money used to support his competition?

"selfish' is what we call those asking for a free ride at taxpayer expense.

Mike D. said...


The Farmer's Market is a community tradition, not just in America, but all around the world.

If the concept of the farmer's market is a threat to the monopoly of the big box stores, as you seem to indicate, then I would say our country might just have a chance to survive.

You see, those big box stores essentially feed our life blood to China. Do they sell for cheap? Sure they do! But only their slim profit and the salary of some middleman stays in the USA. The rest of it flies right across the ocean.

A farmer's market, on the other hand, preserves the resources, not only of the community, but of the country as a whole.

As a patriotic American, I find your eagerness to sell out your own country to the Chinese a little bit disturbing.

Henery said...

And when there is no more Farmers Mkt., what will you call that?

Justifiable homicide?

G.I.G said...

The county government has no right to subsidize any business over another. I am a small business person, who employees people here in Boone and pays taxes to the county. I see no break on mine for being a good citizen. Either they support letting anyone use the space at a fair market price determined by competition, or stay out of the real estate rental game all together IMHO.

G.I.G said...

To Henry, My answer to your question would be if the market can not afford to rent space to compete with other business in Watauga county, then that's fair market supply and demand. It is not the responsibility of the taxpayers to make sure a for profit stays open. I know the corp. is non profit but the vendors are there for profit.

Anonymous said...

Mike D. With due regard, your logic doesn't make sense.

The subject is not about big box stores, period, who do business with China or from wherever.

The subject is about foodstuff, groceries. And most of our food still comes from this country, including this region.

And, once again, the farmers market serves the Boone area only. Why should I, as a rural property owner in the Beaver Dam district, grant any market free rent that serves only the Boone area?

That's fascism.

it should be the same for everyone said...

If they let county property be used for the farmer's market, they should let every business right the amount less than $10,000.00 that county property is leased for directly off their taxes. That puts all businesses back on the same level.

Deborah Greene said...

Nothing wrong with using my information. It is fact and it came from published minutes of the Farmers Market.

Deal has no problem with giving away $10,000 of revenue potential. He gave away millions to his cronies. And, if he is able, he will give away more.

Why didn't the Town of Boone lease the property for $1 per year when they had the opportunity?

We need to let free enterprise work. There is another group wanting to establish a Farmers Market. And, if they don't get a new board in fast, it will happen sooner than later. Everyone in the Agricultural community knows about the "fracturing"!

The vendors aren't going anywhere. It may be a new market; but, the same vendors and more will be available. Other more interesting sights are being pursued.

Deal doesn't know as much as he appears.

Henery said...

"Deal doesn't know as much as he appears."

Possibly, neither does Deborah Greene.

But at least she's now posting under her own name again instead of "Watauga TAXPAYER."

Watauga TAXPAYER said...

I am posting under "Watauga Taxpayer" and I am not Deborah Greene (nor have I ever been Deborah Greene)

The fact that I share her opinion on the farmers market shouldn't be too big a shock. I suspect that - away from the watauga watch group, the majority of people in this county feel about the same way. At least, the majority of the voters in this county voted the same way I did last get rid of the spenders on the county commission and in the state legislature and to bring some fiscal responsiblilty back to government before it's too late.

and, Mike D...I don't know why or how you could conclude that I indicated that the farmers market was a threat to 'big box stores'. Perhaps you should re-read my posts. I mentioned a small, independent, small business that recently started up on the corner of 105Ext and State Farm Road. This "big box" is smaller than most 2 car garages in this county.

And, I am not opposed to the farmers market in any way. I am glad to see them here and hope they continue to do business in the county. I just want them to pay for their businesses out of their profits and not with tax payer dollars!

I'm not sure why some of you can't grasp that concept. I think that you all do grasp it, but can't find any argument to support your position so you want to change the argument to an issue of whether or not the farmers market is good or bad.

It's not the issue. The issue is why should the county subsidize them? Tradition? There are a lot of traditions in this county, some of them not legal......that doesn't make it the job of the county to pay their rent for them!

Used to be Anonymous said...

Mike D.

As a patriotic American AND a believer in the free enterprise system, I find your willingess to utilize government resources on a selective basis to support a particular favored private business to be disturbing AND communistic! Talk about selling out your country!

I also think your recent post is beneath you! You are a person of well above average intelligence and a lot of common sense! You could NOT have concluded from Taxpayers post that he was arguing in support of big box stores. You either didn't read his post, or you are being disingenuous with the facts.

I have to agree with G.I.G, TAXPAYER, and the others who think that private business should be left alone to conduct their business and to compete with one another WITH as little interference from government as possible.

"It should be the same for everyone" is right. Don't tax Jim's Produce for his little vegetable stand and then use those dollars to help his competition. Let the competition be free and open; the free market seems to work pretty well when left alone.

Used to be Anonymous said...

If we are going to discuss her recent letter here, I thought we should at least post it.

Market for farmers?
Joe Martin, president of the Watauga County Farmers' Market, and owner of an Ashe County farm, was an advisory board member to the Farmland Protection Plan. The plan describes the market as one that is thriving ("selling out weekly") and cramped for parking spaces with the need for vendor spaces secondary.
Based on the plan and weekly rental and annual membership fees charged to vendors/farmers, 'Boone's farmers' market has more than enough to cover a lease. The farmers' market currently pays for advertising, management and $10,000 annual lease with $16,000 plus remaining in cash/CD at year end. So, it's not a question of financially saving the farmers' market.
Martin has claimed the Farmland Protection Plan supports the market's request for $1/year lease. The plan recognizes the need for additional space in the assessment narrative of the farmers' market.
However, under "actions," the plan calls for an expansion of markets, in general, for farmers. And, the plan suggests funding through grants. Martin has never made the case that the farmers' market needs financial aid. And he has never made the case that the farmers' market needs to give (or would be willing to give) a break in rental fee to the farmers. And, Martin has never mentioned that there are others who are interested in setting up a separate farmers' market.
The farmers' market should give back to community instead of taking. The farmers' market is lucky to have the county allow them use of the property, period. Instead of being greedy, think of your rental fee as going to the education of our children. For every dollar the state cuts, you give a $1. By all means, be willing to pay enough to cover the county's expenses. Make no mistake; the farmers' market serves a valuable niche market for farmers. However, the current farmers' market is not without its problems, including a lack of fair and nondiscriminatory guidelines for membership.
We would prefer our county pursue a regional farmers' market under the management of the agricultural center or North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Like the market for the western mountains; northern mountain counties need one, too. However, right now, the county, the state and the federal governments need to focus on cutting spending, paying down debt and getting the fair market value for our assets.
Deborah Greene
Watauga County

Thanks Mrs Greene....please keep us posted.

Brushfire said...

The role of government is to help the community. The farmer's market helps the community in many ways. It is perfectly legitimate for local government to provide support for a non-profit organization.

Many big businesses get tax breaks as incentives. The Farmer's market is a way to provide incentives to local farmers.

Anonymous said...

Everyone here had better hope we have a good farmers' market cause the shit is about to hit the fan on food prices.

Mike D. said...

"Deal has no problem with giving away $10,000 of revenue potential." - Deborah Greene

"The issue is why should the county subsidize them?" - Watauga TAXPAYER

So wait, let me see if I understand this. I seem to be having a hard time. Are you suggesting that allowing a public event to occur on county property constitutes a subsidy? Why not consider it a million dollars of subsidy? For that matter, why allow people to jog in Central Park for free? After all, not everyone wants to exercise, so is it not preferential treatment and subsidizing working out, money that could be going to Gold's Gym?

Why have any publicly owned land? Why should communities be allowed to own any property at all? This, to you, constitutes a Communist perspective?

Communities have been owning land and providing it for public events, free of charge, for thousands of years before Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto.

I do like how "Anonymous" calls me a "fascist" and "Used to be Anonymous" calls me a "Communist". So, which is it?

Plebiscites were held on public land in ancient Greece. Were the ancient Greeks Fascists or Communists, in your opinion?

We can vote at the county courthouse. Not everyone votes. Should we have to pay to vote?

Your logic sucks.

Anonymous said...

Mike D. It is both. Communism and Fascism, whichever, leads to the total centralized control of all and everything.

Are you familiar with the Hegelian Dialectic?

You had better wake up and smell the coffee, Mike.

But I guess you would like to have special interests receiving all kinds of tax money.

However, one day there may be one special interest that you will object to receiving public funding.

Popcorn said...

It seems as if Watauga Taxpayer, Deborah Greene and Anonymouse believe the farmers should pay to use the space. A couple of things worth considering. The Farmer's Market started long before the influx of do gooding outsiders. That was the way the people of Watauga County, largely an agrarian bunch, wanted it. Now, with those opposed to free enterprise and small business, things have begun to change. Perhaps the collapse of the farmer's market is only a harbinger of tihngs to come. If a majority of citizens don't want the farmer's market, then they have the right to charge rent to those farmers. The demographics of this county have changed, and I don't see how local traditions, good or bad, will not change also. Most of us old-time locals don't like the coming changes, but it is our fault for allowing the do-gooders in here in the first place (our greed got us).

Next is something both sides, including Mike D, have not touched upon. The Food Safety and Modernization Act. This dangerous piece of legislation which passed with support from both Republicans and Democrats has the ability to regulate food in a farmer's market type setting. Even if some middle ground is reached, we now have a federal law capable of wiping out farmer's markets for good - no matter if they pay rent or not. I find it oddly amazing that you folks are arguing over a symptom and not the real problem. Again, both sides passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act without a peep from anyone (reminds me of the Patriot Act that the President extended last week), yet this act will endanger an activity that has taken place since before America was America.

So, Mike D, Deborah Greene, Anonymous, Brushfire, and others - your inability to focus on true and verifiable threats to current agricultural and cultural traditions might well spell doom for them anyway.

Brushfire said...

From my brief overview(see the first paragraph), it appears that Farmer's markets are specifically exempted.

NewGuy said...


In perusing the text of the bill that was passed by both legislative bodies, I can only conclude that farmer's markets are included in the text.

Title I of HR 2751 (passed by both the House and Senate) -IMPROVING CAPACITY TO PREVENT FOOD SAFETY PROBLEMS



(c) Clarification of Intent-

(1) RETAIL FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The Secretary shall amend the definition of the term `retail food establishment' in section in 1.227(b)(11) of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations to clarify that, in determining the primary function of an establishment or a retail food establishment under such section, the sale of food products directly to consumers by such establishment and the sale of food directly to consumers by such retail food establishment include--

(A) the sale of such food products or food directly to consumers by such establishment at a roadside stand or farmers' market where such stand or market is located other than where the food was manufactured or processed;

(B) the sale and distribution of such food through a community supported agriculture program; and

(C) the sale and distribution of such food at any other such direct sales platform as determined by the Secretary.

Brushfire said...

NewGuy - The section you published clarifies the definition of a retail food establishment. No argument there. But as per the summary provided by
" Exempts certain establishments that sell food directly to consumers, such as roadside stands, farmers markets or participants in a community supported agriculture program, from specified requirements of this Act.

???????? said...

So the government is saying two opposite things in one law? What a surprise!

That is assuming Brushfire is correct. She didn't supply a quote or link.

Deborah Greene said...

The threat to agriculture is through things like the County's Agriculture Development and Farmland Preservation Plan that was written by someone whose philosophy is: "Land needs to be freed from the yoke of private land ownership." The very people who proclaim that they are protecting agriculture are controlled more and more by the United Nations. It is bigger than anyone could possibly imagine. We are not as blind as you think!

Brushfire said...

???? - The bold print words are the quote. I supplied the link in my previous post.

NewGuy said...

The posting by "NewGuy" at 10:16 PM is not by me but by an imposter using my ID for whatever reason.

It would perhaps avoid confusion if he or she would use their own ID.

I have been using the "NewGuy" Id on this and other boards for quite some time now. Sometimes I get flamed for my opinions, which is fine...when they are MY opinions. I don't think that someone else using my ID in order to confuse people here is beneficial to anyone.

not new guy said...

I think this person regularly posts under blogging aliases used by others to illustrate Williamson's ridicules and arbitrary censorship of anyone using the name Anonymous. All blogging names are anonymous.

Watauga TAXPAYER said...

I posted under "anonymous" for quite a while before JW put in that new rule.

I understand why he did it. It's confusing when you have 2, 3 or 4 "anonymous'" posting to a thread. You have a hard time responding to a specific one when all are sharing a name.

When everyone has a unique ID, then, at least we can tell who a response is directed to. I don't see any "downside" other than it is more convenient to click on "anonymous" when posting rather than type in your ID.

Mike D. said...


Thanks for choosing a name and sticking with it. As I have said before, I enjoy the conversation here on WataugaWatch, but it is really frustrating to try to talk with someone when you can't at least have some continuity of reference frame for the conversation. I appreciate your decision.