WNC AgOptions Grant Cycle Is Open
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WNC AgOptions is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $220,000. The application deadline is November 18.
WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers’ risk of trying new ventures and expanding their farms with $4,000 and $8,000 grants.
The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission has supported the mountain region throughout major changes in agriculture, ensuring farmers continue farming. “We are extremely impressed with the innovation and resourcefulness that western North Carolina farmers exhibit as they improve production efficiencies and continually advance their operations,” said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “With support from our Board, we continue to build on the long tradition of agricultural excellence in western N.C.”
Applicants must contact their Cooperative Extension agents by October 14 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. Applications are available at WNC AgOptions.
Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has distributed more than $3.5 million to farmers in western North Carolina who are diversifying their operations. Over the years, AgOptions recipients have used their grant awards to strengthen their farm businesses, making them better positioned to face unexpected challenges, such as the pandemic and recent weather-related disasters. “WNC farms have experienced many challenges in recent years including severe weather events, rising production costs, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions, ” said Karen Blaedow, Commercial Vegetable and Small Fruits Agent, N.C. Cooperative Extension and WNC AgOptions Steering Committee Chair. “By financially supporting projects that increase profitability and sustainability, the WNC AgOptions program is building small family farm resilience to better secure our agriculture community for the future.”
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.
Information Sessions are scheduled throughout western North Carolina.
|September 19, 4-5:30 p.m.||Haywood County Center, 589 Racoon Rd, Waynesville|
|September 22, 4:30-6:30 p.m.||Watuaga Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Rd, Boone|
|September 22, 6-7:30 p.m.||Konehete Park, 699 Conaheeta St, Murphy|
|September 26, 6-7:30 p.m.||Burke County Center, 130 Ammons Dr, Morganton|
|October 6, 6-8:00 p.m.||Avery Community Center, 699 Vale Rd, Newland|
|October 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m.||Cleveland County Center, 130 S. Post Rd, Shelby|
|October 11, 6:30-8:00 p.m.||Swain County Center, 60 Almond School Rd, Bryson City|
The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a non-profit organization that has been improving agriculture in the region since 1949. 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 honored to be the administrator of this annual funding opportunity designed to support farmers in their quest to try new techniques or implement innovative farming practices, said Jennifer Ferre, Executive Director of WNC Communities. “We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support for nearly 20 years.”
Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include: representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, and other leaders in agribusiness.