Local livestock farmers who have stressed about the mechanics of selling cattle in the past now have a reprieve. They no longer have to worry about hooking up the trailer or making the trek required to sell their cows. Rising fuel costs will no longer have a direct impact on when a farmer heads to the “sale” beyond Macon County because there is now a cattle pick-up Station for those interested.
The destination of the cows will be the WNC Regional Livestock Center located in Canton, N.C. For years, those who dealt in livestock like cattle, goats, sheep, etc... went elsewhere to sell off their herd. Towns in North Georgia like Eastanollee and Carnesville benefited from the southern migration of many WNC farmers, but in an attempt to keep money in N.C., several pick-up sites have been established.
“For years, farmers in the western part of the state would take cattle to Chesney, S.C., parts of North Georgia, Tennessee or in to Virginia to sell them at a stockyard,” said Jackson County resident Boyce Deitz. “It basically just depended on their proximity to the closest location. This group of producers — cattle farmers — got together and created a system to not only improve the economy of Western North Carolina, but to help the farmers above all else.”
According to Deitz, two years ago county commissioners from around the region got together with regional farmers to secure funding through grants in order to build the new livestock center and therefore increase the convenience of selling cattle in Western North Carolina. The operations of the pick-up and sale are not for profit and no one person has control of the operations.
“All of the farmers involved are the owners of the operation. Every farmer in Macon County owns it just as much as everybody else and everybody will benefit. Instead of worrying about having a trailer and truck to haul or taking off work to get your cattle to the sale, you can just call up Ben or Jim Ledford and make arrangements with them. They will make sure the animals get where they need to be.”
The Ledfords, father and son, provide the trailer and the man hours to get the livestock to the sale on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to bring the focus of WNC livestock farmers back to this part of the state.
“There's a few drop off sites in Western North Carolina. There's one in Cherokee, Andrews, Bryson City and another in Rutherford County and we hoped this one would open up even more opportunities for farmers in Franklin and the surrounding area,” said Ben. “A lot of people around here used to go to North Georgia when the sale was in Asheville, but now that this one has been built, we're trying to show people that it's a good opportunity right over in Canton. All they have to do is bring them to us and we'll get them tagged and take them to the sale and, of course, provide a receipt once it's done. We're not making any money from it, we just get paid enough to cover our services, basically the fuel and that money comes from a government grant.”
The sale takes place every Monday unless there is a holiday. For more information about the cattle pick-up that takes place on Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., call Jim Ledford at (828)421-0866 or Ben Ledford at (828)421-7331.