The North Carolina Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program, administered by N.C. MarketReady, is now accepting applications for the 2011 Equipment cost share funding cycle.

This program is funded by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to support the development of North Carolina value-added agricultural operations.

A value-added agricultural product is a raw, agricultural commodity that has been changed in some manner so that it no longer can be returned to its original state. This change results in increased market value, allowing the producer to receive a higher price for these value-added products compared to the original commodity. Chopped lettuce, fruit jams and stone-ground cornmeal are a few examples.

“The NCVACS guidelines broaden the definition of value-added beyond the traditional scope,” said Brittany Whitmire, program coordinator for NCVACS. “It also includes non-standard production methods (such as organic), physical product segregation (keeping genetically modified (GM) corn separate from non-GM corn), generating farm-based renewable energy and some locally produced food products.”

Examples of projects previously funded include a refrigerated van to transport fresh meat, packaging equipment for sweet potato crackers and a chocolate-coating machine for North Carolina pecans.