‘It’s at a good place’: GA Dept. of AG leaders on keeping the Cordele State Farmers Market open

‘It’s at a good place’: GA Dept. of AG leaders on keeping the Cordele State Farmers Market open

CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) - State Agriculture officials said the Cordele State Farmers Market isn’t going anywhere.

This after some local leaders were concerned it might close.

According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the concern all started before the pandemic, when leaders were bracing for a 14 percent budget cut from the state.

That made AG officials gear up, prepare and explore how they were going to keep the Cordele State Farmers Market and a few others running.

Luckily, the cut was only about 6 percent.

“Closing the markets and the other markets that we’ve discussed did not become a reality, but it did kinda put us in a good position that we had started some conversations with some of the local folks,” said Paul Thompson, the interim marketing director for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson (Source: WALB)

The team of people and discussions Thompson’s referring to is a regional coalition that was recently put together to brainstorm ideas for the market.

Thompson said it’s not out of the question for the market to transition some, but it’s not going away. He said they are wanting to have more activity at the market either that be year-round vendors or multiple activities.

Thompson said they are talking about the market weekly.

“We’re not at a place where closing the market makes sense. We’re at a place where the partnership with our local folks there, Ms. Monica (Simmons, with the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce) and team of folks she’s helped to gather to give us more community input to get some more things going on the market. It’s at a good place,” said Thompson.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture operates and manages the Cordele State Farmers Market but its funded entirely by the state with a price tag of about $260,000 annually.

Thompson said it, along with a few other markets, operate at a loss. For the Cordele State Farmers Market that loss in FY20 was $120,000.

“We find ourselves in a better position this year financially through some cuts that we’ve had to make, but if it keeps the market operational and keeps the market going, then certainly that seems to be the right thing to do,” said Thompson.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.