NC Ag Ventures Offers Grant Opportunities

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Occasionally calls come to the Cooperative Extension Center asking about how to apply for agricultural grants or loans. While county Extension offices generally do not have funds to award grants or offer loans, we often can provide suggestions and support to those searching. One opportunity we often suggest for Sampson County producers is the NC State Extension Ag Ventures Program, which is funded by the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Sampson County is one of forty-six counties supported by the program, because of our rich heritage and history of tobacco production.

This program is offered to help farms increase their income, particularly if they are looking to improve, diversify, and/or expand their operation. The program also offers community grants to local organizations working with family farms, where a project will directly benefit three or more family farms in the community. Regardless of the grant type, the maximum award per grant is $8000. Only one application is accepted per farm or organization, with a maximum of 250 applications accepted each year.

When can a farm or community organization apply? The grant application period for NC Ag Ventures opens in the fall, usually early November, and closes by mid-December.

What are requirements of an applicant? Applicants must have a clear project description and goals, as well as a marketing plan and a complete budget for the project, including quotes for expenses, breakeven and total cost. Research must indicate that the project will be successful for the farm’s profit and future. All applicants must work with a local county Extension Agent on their project proposal.

Which applications get priority?

  • Applicants that are current/former tobacco growers, former quota holders, tobacco workers or close family descendant
  • Farms that have not received previous funding from NC Tobacco Trust Commission, RAFI or NC AgVentures
  • Applicants that earn at least 50% of their gross personal income from their farm operation
  • Proposals that present a new direction or innovative opportunity to diversify, expand or implement new entrepreneurial plans for their farm operations that are viable and will increase farm profits

Visit the website for NC Ag Ventures. Anyone interested in learning more about this grant opportunity is encouraged to visit the site, review requirements, see projects awarded in the past, and register for more information. Producers and community organizations are encouraged to contact the Sampson County Extension Center to discuss application ideas with one of our agricultural agents who specialize in the project area of interest. For support and more information, give us a call at 910-592-7161.

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