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Long-awaited livestock market gets needed boost toward finish line

Haywood County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pitch in $25,000 toward the regional livestock market under construction in Canton, adding their name to the list of governments and organizations from around the region that have contributed to the project.

The market will offer a venue for cattlemen to sell their livestock — something the region currently lacks to the detriment of small farmers.

“I think it’s appropriate, when surrounding counties have contributed to a project within Haywood County, that we would contribute, as well,” said Commissioner Kevin Ensley. Ensley proposed the dollar figure to match what Buncombe County had contributed to the market.

The money will come out of the county’s contingency fund since it was not originally part of this year’s budget.

The regional livestock market will serve 3,000 cattle producers in the entire Western North Carolina region, providing a vital service to cattle farmers left stranded when the major livestock market serving the region in Asheville closed in 2004. Haywood County is the biggest cattle producer in the mountains, accounting for nearly a quarter of all the cattle raised in WNC.

The effort has been led by WNC Communities, while the Southeastern Livestock Exchange has been selected to run the market once it opens.

The $3 million project was funded largely by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund, Golden Leaf Foundation and N.C. Rural Center. A contribution from the Appalachian Regional Commission of $350,000 was announced this week.

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