A $1.5 million grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (NCTTFC) will help farmers upgrade, diversify and maintain family farms throughout the state.

It’s the latest in continued funding by the commission to N.C. State Univeristy’s AgVentures program.

NCTTFC board members and staff presented a check to Interim Dean John Dole and N.C. State Extension Director Richard Bonanno in a ceremony on campus on Dec. 7.

“We have a long partnership with the commission. With each grant we administer, I find it extremely rewarding to know that farming needs are being met to sustain traditional practices as well as encourage new ventures,” said Interim N.C. State Dean John Dole.

N.C. State Extension awards grants through NC AgVentures to support family farms and community organizations that bolster family farms. To date, the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation has been granted over $4.4 million in support of the NC AgVentures program.

The competitive grant program promotes innovative projects aimed at diversifying, expanding or implementing new plans for farms. Community organizations that provide services to at least three farms are also eligible.

The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission was created following the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which instructed cigarette manufacturers to pay over $200 billion to 46 states over the first 25 years of the legal agreement.

The funds are to assist tobacco farmers and persons engaged in tobacco-related businesses adversely affected by the downturn in crop production.

The NC AgVentures website gives instructions for applying for grants, and there are workshops to assist in the grant proposal process. The website is at https://agventures.ces.ncsu.edu.

Previous grants administered through the NC AgVentures program enabled farmers to utilize 21st-century technology, from peanut-drying shacks to high-flying drones.

The 70 grants awarded in 2021-22 ranged from $2,000 to $8,000 and funded such initiatives as building storefronts to increase agritourism; expanding livestock; planting gourmet root vegetables; increasing goat herds for a dairy program; creating new and expanded elderberry farming; and building sheds to protect valuable equipment.

New Castle Farm in the Clingman community received an AgVentures grant for purchasing equipment used to form raised beds, place plastic mulch for weed control and install drip irrigation. The farm is owned by Dillon and DeAnna Prevette.

Adam and Mecca Lowe of Glade Valley received an NC AgVentures grant to create a working sorghum syrup production facility.

Paul Krawiec of Statesville will use the grant he received to add blackberries to his U-Pick Blueberry business.

Evan Walker of Crumpler received an NC AgVentures grant to purchase livestock scales for his beef and swine farm.

Paige Smith of Vilas received one of the grants to purchase and install portable freezer space to store and transport product.

Tori Ostwinch of Conover will use the grant to build a 20×30 metal building on the farm for storage of amendments, tools, equipment, and vegetables.

Jonathan Almond of Mocksville will use her grant to diversify current farming operation by adding cut flowers and produce.

Julia Rogers of Huntersville will use the funds to build a walk-in cooler to store cut flowers.

Nikki Long of Mocksville will use her grant to increase retail store capacity to provide more locally sourced products to the community.

Davie Soil and Water received one of the grants to purchase portable cattle handling equipment for livestock producers (small, new and with inadequate facilities) to rent and improve the ability to manage cattle on their operations.

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