PJ staff report
RALEIGH, N.C. – Through five state and federal programs, farmers in North Carolina now have access to grant funds totaling $18.4 million.
Part of the Family Farm Innovation Fund, the grant program is intended to help farmers emerge from the recession by reducing their energy costs, creating renewable energy projects, launching value-added production and finding new sources of income.
The effort will award up to 1,500 grants over the next 12 months, and will provide energy-efficiency training for another 2,400 farmers in the state.
With funding from federal and state coffers and the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the programs will be operated by four state and federal agencies and coordinated by the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center in Raleigh.
“This initiative builds on the legacy of innovation in North Carolina’s family farms, and it is another step forward in our JobsNOW economic recovery efforts,” North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue says in a statement.
The Rural Energy for America Program, operated by the USDA Office of Rural Development, will provide grants and guaranteed loans to farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to improve their energy efficiency and undertake renewable energy projects.
Value-Added Producer Grants will help farmers make and market value-added agricultural products and is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Farmers can receive low-cost energy audits from the N.C. Farm Bureau’s Farm Energy Efficiency Project.
The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA’s Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund will provide cost-share grants to help farmers find new sources of income.
And farmers can receive help with grant-writing, feasibility assessments, matching funds and equipment to spur value-added production from the N.C. Value-Added Cost Share Program, run by N.C. MarketReady and the N.C. Agriculture Foundation.
For additional information on the grants programs, visit the Rural Center’s website.
Grant applications are available through the organizations operating the individual programs.