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N.C. State Program Awards Funding to Expand 13 Agricultural Businesses

The North Carolina Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program this week announced the recipients of its 2012 equipment cost share awards. Coordinated by N.C. MarketReady, a program of N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCVACS awarded $269,883 to 13 agricultural operations across the state. The program, which has doled out over $1 million to support agribusinesses since it began in 2009, is slated to end this year as funding ends.

The 2012 NCVACS equipment cost share award recipients include:

Thomas Charles (Marshall, N.C.) – $959
Delight Foods, Inc. (Morrisville, N.C.) -$28,316
Fire from the Mountain, Inc. (Zionville, N.C.) – $563
Rainbow Meadow Farms (Snow Hill, N.C.) – $39,753
Richard Parker (Mt. Ulla, N.C.) – $28,459
Cane Creek Pig Farm (Snow Camp, N.C.) – $16,627
Weeping Radish (Grandy, N.C.) – $48,262
Bevin Fink (Cleveland, N.C.) – $2,334
McConnell Farms, Inc. (Hendersonville, N.C.) – $26,034
Cottle Strawberry Nursery (Faison, N.C.) – $50,000
Sanders Ridge Winery (Boonville, N.C.) – $9,648
Ashley Bridges (Shelby, N.C.) – $12,425
Hickory Nut Gap Meats (Fairview, N.C.) – $6,505

Currently funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, NCVACS provides an agricultural producer or processor with up to $50,000 to purchase new or used specialized equipment to start or grow a value-added operation. A value-added 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, such as wine from grapes.

"The NCVACS program helps N.C. agricultural operations grow and adapt to meet the dynamic needs of their clients, including consumers like you and me," said Brittany Whitmire, program coordinator for NCVACS. "Whether it's helping grape growers expand a winery or dairy farmers start an artisan cheese operation, the program gives these folks a better chance to succeed in today's volatile markets."

Future Funding

The N.C. Value-Added Cost Share Program (NCVACS) was created in 2009 when a $1.2 million grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (TTFC) was secured by Dr. Blake Brown, Hugh C. Kiger Professor, Agricultural Economics, N.C. MarketReady. The program was designed to provide assistance to producers applying for the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program and to assist producers with the purchase of value-added processing or packaging equipment.

In 2010, NCVACS received additional funding from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and TTFC, expanding the program to include equipment cost share assistance to value-added agricultural processors. As of the 2012 equipment cost share cycle, funding support for future NCVACS cycles is uncertain.

Applicants requested roughly $2 million in equipment cost share expenses during the recent funding cycle, or eight times the available budget. "The need for funding support for our farmers and agribusinesses is significant and growing," said Brown. "We're exploring options for keeping the NCVACS program up and running."

Since its inception, NCVACS has presented approximately $800,000 in equipment cost share awards to 41 agricultural producers and 14 processors. The program also provided $236,500 in cost share funding to help farmers offset the costs associated with applying for USDA's Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), such as those associated with grant writers and feasibility study consultants. Eight recipients of the NCVACS-VAPG assistance received $1.2 million in VAPG funding from USDA in 2012.

NCVACS is coordinated by N.C. MarketReady, the Cooperative Extension outreach of the N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute, located at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. Learn more at is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.