Duplin Farmers Eligible for Grant Funds
Applications are now open for (Rural Advancement Foundation International) RAFI’s 2014 Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund grants. The grants are $8,000 each or $10,000 for a collaborative group project.
Duplin Cooperative Extension Horticulture Agent Tom Hroza said a local presentation will provide further details to interested individuals on Nov. 7 at the Sampson County Cooperative Extension office in Clinton. The program is 6-8 p.m.
If you are a North Carolina farmer earning at least 50 percent of your personal income from your farm operation, and farm in Duplin or Sampson (or one of 34 more counties targeted) you may be eligible to apply for a grant.
Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate a way to replace lost tobacco income. Competitive projects will explore innovative strategies in production, processing or marketing for the agricultural marketplace.
The economic impact of the program has two components, an investment impact resulting from grantees’ spending on new equipment, buildings, and other improvements; and an operational impact resulting from the expansion of grantees’ farming operations.
Tobacco was once the largest of Duplin’s agriculture income crops and this grant project could help our farmers continue to transition to new or expand existing agricultural enterprises that are alternatives to golden leaf in our county, Hroza pointed out.
In 2011, TCRF provided nearly $2M in grants to 180 innovative farm enterprises in North Carolina. A major economic impact study by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro concluded that each grant, at an average $10K per grant, creates 11 new jobs within one year, and each dollar invested creates $205 in economic impact annually in North Carolina.
In 2012, TCRF funded 34 innovative farm projects in central and eastern North Carolina.
- The 34 enterprises funded in 2012 represent over 200 farmers in 24 counties, from Rutherford County in the southwest to Dare County on the Outer Banks.
- The total dollar amount awarded was $323,000 and the farmer-investment was projected to surpass $800,000.
- Of the 200 participating farmers, 68 are former or current tobacco farmers.
- The total farmland for the 34 projects comes to 7,475 acres in commercial production.
In 2013, TCRF awarded $180,000 in grants to independent family farmers and collaborative farmer projects in North Carolina.
Since the program’s inception in 1998, RAFI has distributed $5 million to more than 500 individual and collaborative enterprises throughout the state. These projects support families and create opportunities and expertise for more independent land-based businesses to develop in rural tobacco-dependent communities throughout the state.
On average, every dollar per grant goes on to create $11 more, and each project leads to the development of four jobs. The grants provide funding for farmers’ own ingenuity–the best models for our state’s agriculture economy are based on the ideas farmers in these communities already have.
2014 grants are open to farmers who work in one of the following tobacco-dependent counties: Alamance, Alexander, Beaufort, Bertie, Caswell, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Sampson, Stokes, Surry, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, Wilson.