Perspectives Online

N.C. State announces $1.2 million value-added cost share program to help farmers

The N.C. State University Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, in cooperation with the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, announces the N.C. Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program, which is designed to enhance rural economic development and strengthen farm families. This new $1.2 million effort is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to support the development of value-added agricultural operations.

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 NCVACS program works hand-in-hand with the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) 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 NCVACS program. In the fall of 2009 and 2010, North Carolina producers can apply for funding to assist with VAPG grant writing (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,” says Dr. Blake Brown, director of the Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture. “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.” The Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, located at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, administers the NCVACS.

“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. “The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission is very pleased to be a partner with the Value-Added program.”

Applications for the fall 2009 NCVACS are now available online at www.ncvalueadded.org. There is a tight window for submissions with applications due by September 1, 2009. Guidelines, examples of successful VAPG projects and a list of frequently asked questions can be found on the Web site.

N.C. Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. It has programs in all 100 counties and the Cherokee Reservation.

The Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, part of the N.C. State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is located at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. The multidisciplinary team 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.

-- Megan Bame