To help pay for necessary maintenance at the five farmers markets and three agricultural centers operated by the state, the NC Board of Agriculture has approved changes in a variety of fees paid by renters.
The daily rental fee paid by an in-state farmer for a space will increase to $15 at farmers markets in Charlotte, Colfax, Lumberton and Raleigh. At the Western N.C. Farmers Market in Asheville, the new rates will be $8 from Nov. 1 to April 30 and $10 from May 1 to Oct. 31. Current daily rates at the markets range from $7 to $10.
Daily space-rental rates for out-of-state farmers will range from $18 to $30. Current fees range from $12 to $20.
Fees for renting horse stalls at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher and the Sen. Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston will range from $18 to $46, depending on the length of rental. Current fees range from $15 to $41.
At the Southeastern N.C. Agricultural Center in Lumberton, the rental rate for the large meeting room will be $800, an increase of $100. However, rental rates for the small and center meeting rooms will drop to $150 and $300, respectively. They currently are $200 and $400.
The farmers markets and agricultural centers are operated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Ron Moore, who oversees marketing facilities for the department, told board members that recent state budget cuts of nearly $400,000 have reduced operating funds for the markets and agricultural centers at a time when the maintenance demands are rising. The State Farmers Market in Raleigh and the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher are self-supporting, and the department would like for all of the facilities to become self-supporting in the future, Moore said.
The changes could take effect as early as Jan. 1.