Some lawmakers question expansion price of Farmers Market - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Some lawmakers question expansion price of Farmers Market

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Lawmakers have allocated millions of dollars to go towards expanding just one of the state's Farmers Markets, but don't expect to see any new features or extra space.

So what is the money going towards?

State agriculture leaders have their sights set on purchasing three parcels of land the West Columbia State Farmers Market sits on, which is just under 10 acres all together.

"We're looking at the revenue streams they provide," said Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Martin Eubanks. "There's a lot that has a wholesale building on it as well as an out-of-state farmstead. Then there's the gate house."

"It's a shame it stayed in the budget," said state Rep. Ralph Norman.

Norman says he questions the appraisal price and necessity of the purchase.

"The inflated sales price makes no sense," said Norman. "It means 70 school buses. It means the base student cost would increase if we fund it."

But those who oversee the market say that a $7 million price tag isn't final, and purchasing the land from the private company that currently owns it would have long term benefits.

"I see this as a great opportunity for South Carolina to inject itself into more of the market as we look to the future," said Eubanks.

For vendors like Sidney Livingston, who make their living selling in the stands, those millions are an investment in their peace of mind.

"Private enterprises, they're private. They have to make money," said Livingston. "The Ag Department kinda works for the people."

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