The Agricultural Development and Farmland Trust Fund has recently awarded their 2013 grants.
“We had $1.9 million to help communities across the state protect farmland and promote agricultural enterprises. This year we were funded half by the appropriation from the General Assembly and the other half is coming from the state’s legal settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority.
There were 22 projects funded this year. We are assisting county governments and non profit groups. We are also purchasing conservation easements on farm and forest land. We continue to work toward the counties having VADs. One is even turning an old textile mill into a produce processing and distribution facility.
One grant that is very interesting is in the Sandhills region. Lee County was awarded $7500 to work with the Sandhills Farm to Table cooperative on a pilot program that will assist farmers who would like to market to institutions that are underserved by local foods. This program will serve three counties.
The purpose of the grants is to support projects that encourage the preservation of agricultural and forest land. Its all tied to fostering the growth and development of the farms in NC.
It has been happening since 2005. The trust fund has helped to protect almost 12,000 acres of working farm and forest land. Its also helped to create voluntary ag districts in 86 counties and farmland protection plans in 48 counties. We are helping with the money end, but also working with them to help them understand the value of keeping farms in their area.”