Granville cattlemen want increased marketing opportunities

Feb. 11, 2013 @ 09:37 PM

The Granville County Cattlemen’s Association wants the county planning board to increase the number of annual events at the livestock arena on Cannady Mill Road.

The special use permit for the arena allows six events a year. Warren County Planning Director Barry Baker said the livestock arena’s special use permit allows it to hold wholesale cattle auctions, equipment auctions and events such as those involving 4-H and the local chapter of Future Farmers of America.

The association wants more marketing opportunities and plans to lobby the Granville County Planning Board on Feb. 21 to increase the number of events. The planning board will meet that evening at 7 at the Granville County Expo and Convention Center on U.S. 15 just outside of Oxford.

Asked if neighbors of the arena have objected to the proposal, Baker said, “Not to my knowledge, but they’ll have a chance to speak at the public hearing.”

E.B. Harris, owner of the livestock arena, said if the change in the special use permit is approved, “We could use it more for things like FFA and 4-H. And we could market more cows. It would offer a place to market cattle at more times a year.

“When we have these sales, something like 60 percent of our customers are from out of the area. A good number spend the night, buy fuel and get a little something to eat.”

A change in the special use permit would also allow him to cover some pens so that more cattle are protected from the elements, Harris said.

Kyser “Kay” Stark, president of the cattlemen’s association, said, “It’s a facility that should be used. We’re trying to open it up to as many sales as he wants. The auction brings in a lot of people from Virginia and South Carolina.

“The only thing the cattlemen’s association gets out of it is we’re going to do the concessions for it,” he said.

The proceeds support the scholarships the association awards, which include a scholarship to Vance-Granville Community College and a scholarship to N.C. State University.

Paul Westfall, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Granville County Center, said there are almost 12,000 head of cattle in Granville County.

“That’s a big industry,” Westfall said. “The closest market we have is in Siler City.”

The cost of shipping cattle to a distant market reduces the farmer’s profit by a substantial amount, he said.

The cattlemen’s association is a non-profit organization that represents the county’s beef industry. According to statistics provided by the association, Granville County ranks 24th in North Carolina in total beef production, which contributes $6 million each year to Granville County’s economy through sales direct from the farm.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.