The North Carolina Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/extension/cost-share, administered by N.C. MarketReady, is now accepting applications for the 2012 equipment cost share funding cycle.

The program, funded by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, provides up to $50,000 to agricultural producers and processors seeking to purchase specialized equipment to start or grow a value-added operation.

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. Cheese (from milk), wine (from grapes) and bread (from grains) are a few examples.

The NCVACS program works hand-in-hand with the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) by reducing the costs of equipment purchases that are not funded by the USDA grant.

The 2012 cost share cycle allows value-added producers and processors to apply for funding to purchase new or used equipment. Equipment cost share awards will vary from 25 to 50 percent of the total cost of the equipment, up to a maximum of $50,000.

“The NCVACS program supports the development of North Carolina value-added agricultural operations,” said Brittany Whitmire, program coordinator for NCVACS.

“NCVACS is one of the few cost share funding sources for equipment, and we’ve seen many recipients grow their businesses and become more successful after being awarded the funds.” (Award Recipient Bios http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/extension/programs-resources/cost-share/meet-our-award-recipients/).

Continuing from the 2011 funding cycle, the program’s expanded guidelines for value-added products include non-standard production methods (such as organic), physical product segregation — keeping genetically modified (GM) corn separate from non-GM corn, farm-based renewable energy and some locally produced food products.

Examples of equipment previously funded include an aging cooler for meats, pasteurizing machinery for goat milk, a seasoning applicator for roasted soybeans and fermentation tanks for producing wines.

Applications for the NCVACS 2012 equipment cost share are available online at http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/extension/cost-share. Applications are due by March 1, 2012. Guidelines and a list of frequently asked questions can be found on the website.
NCVACS is coordinated by N.C. MarketReady, the Cooperative Extension outreach of the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute, located at the North Carolina Research Campus. Funded by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the cost share program was launched in 2009 and will have provided nearly $1 million in direct cost share assistance to value-added producers and processors throughout North Carolina by the end of 2012.

Learn more at http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu.