NC Commissioner Steve Troxler: Deadlines Approaching for Ag COVID-19 Relief

The deadlines for three agricultural COVID-19 relief programs close on Oct. 12. NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler is urging farmers and operators to get applications completed.

  • I want to remind farmers market operators, food hubs, meat and seafood processors, and Grade A dairy producers that deadlines are coming up soon for three programs funded through the federal CARES Act.
  • The deadlines for the programs focused on increasing meat and seafood processing capacity and the COVID-19 Dairy Assistance program close Oct. 12.
  • The application period for an assistance program for farmers market operators and local food hubs closes on Oct. 22.
  • We have more information on our website at ncagr.gov, including details on who is eligible for the programs and applications.
  • Proposals are being sought for the Increasing Meat and Seafood Processing Efficiency and Capacity program, which has $20 million to assist small-scale meat processing facilities increase slaughter capacity.
  • During the pandemic many consumers sought locally sourced protein products, creating a new market for livestock and seafood producers. As those producers worked to meet demand, slaughter spots at small-scale processors filled up quickly.
  • Processors are now working through a backlog of 8 to 12 months for their customers.
  • This is a matching program, where processors have to match $1 for every $2 of grant funds.
  • Proposals will be evaluated, with funding to successful proposals to follow. There has been strong interest in this program.
  • Two million dollars in funding is available for Grade A dairy fluid milk producers who suffered losses due to COVID-19 disruptions in the milk supply chain.
  • Some farmers had to dump milk because there was no market for that product, which resulted in losses for producers.
  • To qualify dairies must be inspected by our Food and Drug Protection Division and qualify for the Grade A dairy program. The program also applies to fluid dairy producers who may have gone out of business because of COVID-19.
  • The N.C. Cooperative Extension and Farm Service Agency are helping us with dairy applications if producers have questions. Dairy farmers can also contact Steve Lathrop with our Marketing Division at 919-707-3130.
  • And, finally, the latest program approved by the N.C. General Assembly is aimed at farmers market operators and local food hubs.
  • There is a total of $750,000 in funds for this program. The funding is meant to assist with losses from reduced number of vendors, plus offset additional expenses associated with offering PPE, hand sanitizer and handwashing stations, and added COVID-19 educational materials.
  • Eligible categories include labor, technology or software upgrades, infrastructure enhancements, COVID-19 educational materials, PPE and test kits.
  • There are over 250 farmers markets across the state, more than 160 roadside stands and 20 USDA registered food hubs.
  • There will be two meetings via Microsoft Teams or by conference call to answer any questions about the farmers market and local food hub program. They are scheduled on Oct. 7 from 10 to 11 a.m. and Oct. 8 from 7 to 8 p.m.
  • You can find all the details online at our website.
  • Check out these programs online if you think they apply to you. Or call the contacts listed for more information.