Three Georgia Farmers Market Locations Could Be Spared

By Clint Thompson, Multimedia Journalist for AgNet Media Inc.

(July 6, 2020) The revised budget cut requirements from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and the State Legislature may have spared the state farmers market locations in Cordele, Thomasville and Savannah.

Julie McPeake, Georgia Department of Agriculture Chief Communications officer, confirmed that as a result of the budget cut requirement from 14% to 10%, the State Legislature provided funds to support the transition of ownership of the Cordele, Thomasville and Savannah farmers markets to their respective local governments.

“In May, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) requested that state agencies present a plan to cut 14% of their budgets for fiscal year 2021. The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) operates with a very efficient budget, forcing very difficult decisions to reach the requested budget cuts, including a proposal to close multiple state farmers markets,” McPeake said. “However, following a revision of revenue estimates, OPB and the State Legislature reduced budget cut requirements from 14% to 10%. As a result, the Legislature provided funds to support the transition of ownership of the Cordele, Thomasville, and Savannah farmers markets to local governments effective April 1, 2021.” 

Impact From Coronavirus Pandemic

Locations in Augusta, Cordele, Macon, Savannah and Thomasville were on an initial list to be cut. McPeake said the locations in August and Macon are still scheduled to be off the GDA’s books for 2021, but she didn’t have a timeline for any transition.

It is unfortunately a necessary evil that had to be considered during this recession which is a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the 14% budget cuts that were requested, you’ve got to make some decisions. Unfortunately, some of those tough decisions require looking at hard numbers. When you have some markets that are having trouble to turn a profit, that’s one of the first places you’ve got to turn to, to save that money,” said Paul Thompson, marketing director for the Georgia Department of Ag, in early June.

The different farmers market locations vary in what commodities are sold there. In Cordele, the self-proclaimed “Watermelon Capital of the World,” it is known for watermelons and cantaloupes being bought and sold this time of year.

July 1 began the new fiscal year.

Source: Vegetable & Specialty Crop News