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N.C. State announces $1.2 million grant program to help farmers

KANNAPOLIS ó A new program launched by N.C. State University at the N.C. Research Campus will provide $1.2 million to help North Carolina farmers.
N.C. State’s Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, which is based in Kannapolis, has received money from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to support the development of value-added agricultural operations.
The new program, called N.C. Value-Added Cost Share, is designed to enhance rural economic development and strengthen farm families.
Applications for the fall 2009 cost-share program are now available online at www.ncvalueadded.org. The deadline to apply is Sept. 1.
The scope of North Carolina agriculture has evolved over the past 20 years from a state where tobacco was king to a diverse array of livestock commodities, nursery crops and direct market producers.
The development of value-added agricultural operations is an emerging sector of North Carolina agriculture.
The cost-share program works hand-in-hand with the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant by reducing the costs associated with professional services and equipment purchases that are not funded by the USDA grant.
There are three components to the cost-share program.
In the fall of 2009 and 2010, North Carolina producers can apply for funding to assist with Value-Added Producer Grant applications (up to $3,500) and enterprise feasibility assessment and business plan development (up to $20,000).
The cost-share program will reduce the costs associated with these professional services by about 50 percent.
In the spring of 2010 and 2011, North Carolina producers that demonstrate a feasible enterprise can apply for equipment cost share funding.
“This is a unique opportunity for North Carolina farmers,” said Dr. Blake Brown, director of the Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture in Kannapolis. “There are few grants available to help growers purchase equipment for their operation, and we’re pleased that the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission supports this effort to help farmers grow their business.”
Brown’s team at the Research Campus administers the cost-share program.
“We are excited that our state has this project in place so that our producers can effectively apply for and receive these grants,” said William Upchurch, executive director of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
Guidelines, examples of successful USDA Value-Added Producer Grant projects and a list of frequently asked questions can be found at www.ncvalueadded.org.
The Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, part of the N.C. State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, includes a multidisciplinary team that builds partnerships and educational resources to help North Carolina agriculture be more profitable.
The team works closely with N.C. Cooperative Extension personnel, who work with farmers across the state.
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