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N.C. State helps agribusinesses gain $1.2 million in USDA grants

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Chapel Hill Creamery wins USDA grantBrittany Whitmire photoPortia McKnight (second from left) and Flo Hawley (far right) are co-owners of Chapel Hill Creamery, a small dairy farm and farmstead cheese-making business that received a USDA-VAPG grant from (far left) N.C. Director for Rural Development Randy Gore and (second from right) USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager, with assistance from NCVACS.

KANNAPOLIS, NC – N.C. State University’s North Carolina Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program provided more than $100,000 in matching funds to help N.C. agricultural producers apply for and secure nearly $1.2 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants. The USDA last week announced the recipients of its Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), eight of which are N.C. businesses that were assisted by NCVACS.

Agricultural businesses receiving VAPG funding, with the help of NCVACS, included:

  • Bobcat Farms (Clinton, NC) – $140,000
  • Chapel Hill Creamery (Chapel Hill, NC) – $180,000
  • Cottle Farms (Faison, NC) – $300,000
  • Honey Mountain Farm (Mt. Ulla, NC) – $120,000
  • Nooherooka Natural (Snow Hill, NC) – $130,000
  • SleepyGoat Farm (Pelham, NC) – $22,500
  • Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association (Robbinsville, NC) – $20,000
  • Sunburst Trout Co. (Canton, NC) – $283,884

Funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, NCVACS presented cost share awards ranging from $3,500 to $23,500 to assist these agricultural producers in offsetting the costs of applying for the VAPG funds (such as those incurred by professional grant writers and feasibility study consultants). For every $1 NCVACS invested into helping businesses apply for the VAPG grant, $11.29 were returned to the state via the USDA funding. (View NCVACS Award Recipient Bios)

“Our program played a critical role for producers in that we helped make it possible for them to afford to research, plan and apply for hundreds of thousands of federal government dollars,” said Brittany Whitmire, NCVACS coordinator. “These small agricultural businesses are deserving of larger agricultural grants, but often lack the financial and professional resources to pursue those funding opportunities.”

NCVACS assisted applicants with two types of VAPG proposals, including “planning” and “working capital” funding. VAPG planning funds, received by two N.C. producers, will be used to further develop business and marketing plans for particular products offered by each farm. VAPG working capital funds, received by the remaining six N.C. producers, will offset the operational costs of expanding value-added businesses into new markets.

NCVACS currently is accepting applications for its 2012 equipment cost share cycle. The program is separate from the VAPG and any eligible agricultural producer or processor may apply, even if it is not a VAPG recipient. Producers and processors of value-added agricultural products will find guidelines, eligibility requirements and application materials for the 2012 equipment cost share at Applications must be received by March 1, 2012.

NCVACS is coordinated by N.C. MarketReady, the Cooperative Extension outreach of the N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute, located at the N.C. Research Campus. Funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the cost share program was launched in 2009 and will have provided nearly $1 million in direct cost share assistance to value-added producers and processors throughout North Carolina by the end of 2012.

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