New operator chosen for livestock market
After 10 years running the WNC Regional Livestock Market, John Queen is retiring from the job, and the WNC Communities Board of Directors announced that Doctors Steven and Melissa Matthews, a veterinarian group that currently operates the Cleveland County Agriculture Livestock Exchange in Shelby, will take his place.
Queen will continue to operate the market through March 31, and the Matthews will be in place for the first Monday sale in April. WNC Communities has worked with livestock producers in WNC for more than 70 years and initiated the WNC Regional Livestock Market project. It holds the asset and leases the market to a for-profit operator. Since opening in 2011, the market has sold more than 142,000 head of cattle for $121 million.
WNC Communities completed the selection process for the new operator in a short period of time so that not one market day would be missed during the transition. In the span of a month, the nonprofit formed a selection committee, sought out applicants, evaluated proposals, reached out to stakeholders for feedback and chose a new operator from among five qualified applicants.
“The deciding factor in this closely competitive process was who possessed the best overall program for working with local producers to gain patronization of the market,” said L.T. Ward, vice president of WNC Communities.
Producers said they wanted the operator to help them get the best market price with a reasonable selling fee, an enjoyable selling experience, educational programs and opportunities for special sales such as the sale of small ruminants — a strong suit of the Shelby market the Matthews currently run.
The selection was announced at the market on Monday, March 1, during a presentation preceding the weekly sale. It is available at www.wnccommunities.org.