Stokes County will soon have a livestock agent again.
County commissioners agreed on a 3-1 vote Monday to allow the county extension agency to hire a livestock agent for the remainder of the year, with the understanding that the salary and benefits would be split equally between the county and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
The county had hoped to split the position with another county, but was unable to do so after all of the geographically close counties filled their need for a livestock agent.
County Manager Rick Morris said filling the position for the remainder of this fiscal year would cost the county an additional $8,896 over what had been budgeted for the Cooperative Extension for this year, but recommended the county hire someone to fill the position.
“We can keep calling our neighbors and asking for help but they will do their stuff first and if they can get to us they will get to us,” he said. “We are 30th out of a hundred for livestock in the state and we should not be going around begging for help. That is not a good way to do business.”
Board Chair Ronda Jones agreed.
“This is nothing compared to the revenue this industry brings to the county,” she said.
Stokes County Extension Director Debbie Cox presented the board with figures at their last meeting which showed the county has 353 farms with 3,144 head of cattle generating $9.5 million, 100 farms with 260,207 birds producing eggs generating $232,00, and 93 farms with 1,637 goats generating $102,000.
Commissioner Leon Inman said he could support the move but warned that the board would carefully re-examine the need for a livestock agent during the next budget cycle.
“At that time I would want some hard data and statistics of what this livestock agent has done during those 8 months,” he said.
Commissioner James Booth opposed the motion. Commissioner Earnest Lankford, who had opposed it in previous meetings, was not present.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.