North Carolina State University’s North Carolina Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/extension/cost-share provided more than $100,000 in matching funds to help state agricultural producers apply for and secure nearly $1.2 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants.

The USDA last week announced the recipients of its Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), eight of which are North Carolina businesses that were assisted by NCVACS.

Agricultural businesses receiving VAPG funding, with the help of NCVACS, included:

• Bobcat Farms (Clinton, N.C.) — $140,000;

• Chapel Hill Creamery (Chapel Hill, N.C.) — $180,000;

• Cottle Farms (Faison, N.C.) — $300,000;

• Honey Mountain Farm (Mt. Ulla, N.C.) — $120,000;

• Nooherooka Natural (Snow Hill, N.C.) — $130,000;

• SleepyGoat Farm (Pelham, N.C.) — $22,500;

• Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association (Robbinsville, N.C.) — $20,000;

• Sunburst Trout Co. (Canton, N.C.) — $283,884.

Funded by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, NCVACS presented cost share awards ranging from $3,500 to $23,500 to assist these agricultural producers in offsetting the costs of applying for the VAPG funds (such as those incurred by professional grant writers and feasibility study consultants).

For every $1 NCVACS invested into helping businesses apply for the VAPG grant, $11.29 were returned to the state via the USDA funding. (View NCVACS Award Recipient Bios http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/extension/programs-resources/cost-share/meet-our-award-recipients/).

“Our program played a critical role for producers in that we helped make it possible for them to afford to research, plan and apply for hundreds of thousands of federal government dollars,” said Brittany Whitmire, NCVACS coordinator.

“These small agricultural businesses are deserving of larger agricultural grants, but often lack the financial and professional resources to pursue those funding opportunities.”

NCVACS assisted applicants with two types of VAPG proposals, including “planning” and “working capital” funding. VAPG planning funds, received by two North Carolina producers, will be used to further develop business and marketing plans for particular products offered by each farm.

VAPG working capital funds, received by the remaining six North Carolina producers, will offset the operational costs of expanding value-added businesses into new markets.

NCVACS currently is accepting applications for its 2012 equipment cost share cycle. The program is separate from the VAPG and any eligible agricultural producer or processor may apply, even if it is not a VAPG recipient. (That information can be found by clicking here).

Producers and processors of value-added agricultural products will find guidelines, eligibility requirements and application materials for the 2012 equipment cost share at http://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/extension/programs-resources/cost-share/cost-share-applicants. Applications must be received by March 1, 2012.

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.