Having spent his life in agriculture, County Commissioner Gary Lee understands the plight of Union County farmers.

Having spent his life in agriculture, County Commissioner Gary Lee understands the plight of Union County farmers.

"The farm community is one of the largest economic drivers in this county," Lee said. "They aren't going to pack up and go away. They're going to be here and they spend a lot of money in our community."

A quick glance around Union County reveals an abundance of active farmland. Silos and barns make up the scenic picture-postcard that is rural Union County. Many family farms that have been passed down from generation to generation since the 1800s are still operating today.

While the agriculture industry struggled in the past year with escalating fertilizer and fuel prices, Lee said the county's farmers are largely on sound financial footing.

"The farm community has a very strong balance sheet," Lee said. "There were a lot of debts repaid in the last six or seven years and farmers tend to be more conservative than some other folks. They've got their balance sheets in line and I think there are going to be some pretty good years ahead."

Lee noted that export figures indicate a strong agricultural market.

"Our exports are up," he said. "We are setting a record export pace at this point, which is rather surprising. We're ahead of what the government predicted. There's a lot of positive news there."