Local News

Moore County Poultry Lab To Close

Posted September 23, 2002 6:48 a.m. EDT

— A small lab in Robbins means a lot to the town and to the poultry industry. For 50 years, veterinarians have tested turkeys and chickens for disease at the Moore County lab.

The state's budget cuts are about to close the facility.

"We are very disappointed, disheartened, and feel very saddened," said Mayor Mickey Brown.

When word got around that the lab's future was in doubt, state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps came to Robbins to meet with local leaders last month. The town's mayor said everyone left that meeting thinking they had reached a deal to save the lab.

"We, in our mind, had worked out an agreement that this poultry lab, which is here and been here all these years, would remain open," Brown said.

Phipps said she sent a letter to two lawmakers asking that the budget be changed in order to keep the lab open.

"And for whatever reason, which I can't speculate about right now, that language wasn't changed," said Mike Blanton, N.C. Department of Agriculture spokesman.

So the budget passed with the original language, spelling an end to the lab.

"Our folks here, being local folks, if we tell you something we're gonna do, we're going hang with it," Brown said.

State Rep. Richard Morgan said Phipps promised the town more than she could deliver.

"I feel sad for constituents, but I'm right angry at the commissioner for leading them on that way when it was actually her provision that was placed in the budget to close the lab," Morgan said.

Agriculture officials point a finger back at Morgan.

"I think it's nothing more than partisan politics, and I think it's a sad day," Blanton said.

The lab has served farmers and businesses in a six county area. Soon, they will have to drive to Raleigh.

The Legislature passed the state budget Friday; lawmakers said there is no way to reverse the lab's fate.