Commissioners send lease proposal to US Department of Agriculture for offices in West End Plaza
Published 12:08 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023
SALISBURY — Two agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture could potentially be moving into the West End Plaza Agricultural Center once renovations have been complete.
Rowan County has proposed a 10-year lease to the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to rent offices in the center. The lease has an annual rent of just over $250,000 for the 5,189 square feet of space. If the lease is accepted, the USDA will be renting the space for $48 per square foot.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the proposal Monday. Next, the USDA will review it and send back any counter-offer proposal.
Currently, the county’s Farm Service Agency serves county farmers, ranchers and other ag partners through different agricultural programs and is housed in the N.C. Cooperative Extension Rowan County Center at 2727 Old Concord Road. The agency employs five workers.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides farmers and other landowners assistance in protecting and conserving land, while also administering conservation benefits for wildlife, water quality and soil health through partnerships with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other public/private partners. The service currently has offices at 600 West Innes St. and has eight employees.
“The Farm Service Agency is our local county farm service agency that is utilized by all of our local residents and farmers and the NRCS office would be (a) regional (office) and the USDA want to combine those two leases.” said Amy-Lynn Albertson, the director of the county extension.
Because the Farm Service Agency is a local agency and the NRCS is federal, the two have to be located in separate offices, but the idea is to consolidate their leases. The Farm Service Agency is currently leasing office space from the county, while the NRCS is leasing from a private entity.
“We do work with those folks (at the Natural Resources Conservation Service), but they’re statewide so they are out in the field a lot,” Albertson said. “They don’t keep regular office hours, they’re not open to the public, but we would utilize their resources.”
The Rowan County Cooperative Extension, the Soil and Water Conservation District offices and the N.C. Forestry Service could also be moving into the agricultural center after renovations.