Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Grants Available For Watauga County Farmers

WNC AgOptions intent to apply deadline Oct. 24, 2014
Application deadline Nov. 21, 2014;

Western North Carolina farmers now have the chance to apply for farm diversification grants two separate times in the next two years. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission recently funded WNC Agricultural Options through 2016, guaranteeing that WNC farmers will receive a total of $340,000 in small grants in the next two application cycles.

WNC AgOptions awards farmers who are diversifying or expanding their operations $3,000 and $6,000 grants to offset the risk of trying a new venture. 
The upcoming application deadline is Nov. 21. All applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension Agents by Oct. 24 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org and at local Cooperative Extension Centers. 

Applicants are encouraged to attend an information session 5:30p.m. to 7p.m. on October 16 at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. Program leaders will offer an overview of the program, review requirements for applying, and give tips for writing applications. See http://www.wncagoptions.org/2015-grant-information-session/ for more details. The Watauga County Extension van will be traveling to this information session, and will leave from the Watauga County Extension Center at 3:00 PM on Thursday, 10/16. Interested growers who would like to ride along should contact Richard Boylan (richard_boylan@ncsu.edu) to reserve a seat in the van. 

WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Interested farmers who live outside of this coverage area should contact RAFI-USA's Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, also exclusively funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. See www.ncfarmgrants.org.

The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a non-profit organization that has been improving agriculture in the region since 1947. WNC Communities provides a unique forum for leaders in western North Carolina to carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and to enhance the agriculture economy.

"WNC Communities is delighted to serve as administrator for WNC AgOptions," said L.T. Ward, Vice President of WNC Commuities. "We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support throughout the past eleven years. We are extremely pleased the Commission has made a two year commitment, which is confirmation of their confidence in the success of this important and effective program."

Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include: representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services–Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and other leaders in agribusiness. For more information, see the following: WNC Agricultural Options: www.wncagoptions.org; N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers: www.ces.ncsu.eduN.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission:www.tobaccotrustfund.org; WNC Communities: www.wnccommunities.org.

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In Watauga County, growers interested in developing grant proposals should contact one of the following Extension Agents (no later than 10/24!):
Fruit, Vegetable, Herb, Medicinal, or Mushroom projects: Richard Boylan - richard_boylan@ncsu.edu
Livestock projects: Eddy Labus - eddy_labus@ncsu.edu
Christmas Tree projects: Jim Hamilton - jim_hamilton@ncsu.edu

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