The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission recently completed their 2013 grant funding cycle, and Jeff Jennings, Program Officer for the North Carolina Trust Fund Commission explains the origins and purpose of the fund:

“The Commission was formed in 2000 based on getting 25% of the Master Settlement Agreement funding that comes back to the state of NC. We have about $2 million per year that helps our budget. We take the majority of that and use it toward grants. Our goal is to assist current and former tobacco farmers and tobacco dependent communities. The sole purpose is to keep those farmers in business.”

Several of this year’s grants involve marketing of local food to consumers:

“We have some local grants that we awarded in Bladen County, they presented a strong case for the local farmers market as well as the town of Elkin who is looking for a more permanent space for their farmers. We also awarded a grant to the ‘Got to Be NC’ program for their marketing campaign. Its statewide that will help local food producers.”

There were also funds awarded for job and skills training says Jennings:

“We have funded ‘Project SkillUp’ for several years. We will reach out to 24 schools in area that have a tobacco connection. We target people who are involved in the tobacco industry or their family is, who are looking for ways to enhance their skills and improve their job outlook.”

And one of the grants awarded is pretty close to home for the Commission explains Jennings:

“Tobacco Farm Life Museum is one that promotes the heritage of tobacco as well as the agricultural heritage of the state. We felt it was important to continue to support them and their marketing. They reach out to farmers for farm tours and are going to create a highly concentrated effort to bring in tour groups from outside of the state. It affects not only attendance at the museum but contributes to the economy.”

For more on the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Grants for 2013 click here. 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.