Victory for agriculture, county’s rural heritage

Published 6:59 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Polk County leaders heralded a victory for the area’s heritage Monday night when commissioners, during a meeting at the Mill Spring Agricultural Center, committed their support to maintaining an agricultural economic development director position.

Rumor mills in the community just months ago had residents shuddering with concern that commissioners might eliminate the position during the budget process. According to commissioners the speculation was just that, and the budget always included room for someone to step into the vital role Lynn Sprague held for almost five years.

Monday night commissioners acknowledged the important steps the county has taken in the promotion of farming since creating the agricultural economic development position.

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In just a few short years, Polk County has gained a statewide reputation for its efforts to revive farming as a viable way of life.

Small family farms were once the county’s primary industry; the backbone of Polk County. In the 1940s and 50s those farms accounted for up to 80 percent of the county’s land. While the area likely will never return to quite that heyday of agribusiness, agriculture’s value to area residents only intensifies as community awareness spreads forth from the presence of farmers markets, workshops and mentoring of burgeoning farmers.

What is the promotion of farmers worth?

Lance Smith spoke at the meeting Monday night to say that $144, 258 was a bargain for the benefit this area receives from the department of agricultural economic development. He’s right.

This total yearly budget amounts to an investment of $7.12 for each person living in Polk County. You can’t really buy a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs for that amount.

We thank the commissioners for vocally stating a commitment to a movement many Polk County residents obviously feel very passionate about supporting. We may not know what came first – the chicken or the egg – but at least in Polk County we know where they both were raised.


– Editorial staff, Tryon Daily Bulletin