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

(Download a PDF of the news release.)

*As of June 20, 2012, the NCVACS program added five award recipients to the original list when additional funds were made available. Those five recipients have been added to the end of the original list below for a total of 18. The additional funds and subsequent changes in financial totals are reported throughout the article after prior totals have been marked through.

Rick Parker, owner of Mary L Farm in Mt. Ulla, N.C., received a NCVACS 2012 equipment cost share award to help the farm's dairy business expand into artisan cheeses.

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 $360,291 to 13 18 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.) – $9,658
  • Ashley Bridges (Shelby, N.C.) – $12,425
  • Hickory Nut Gap Meats (Fairview, N.C.) – $6,505 $24,463
  • Mountain Brook Vineyards (Tryon, N.C.) – $11,547
  • The Mauney Group LLC (Kings Mountain, N.C.) – $18,105
  • Donna Gains (Hayesville, N.C.) – $2,250
  • William’s British Style Meats, Ltd. (Lumberton, N.C.) – $10,320
  • Crooked Creek, Inc. (Old Fort, N.C.) – $30,229

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,” 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 43 agricultural producers and 14 15 processors. The program also provided $236,500 in cost share funding to help farmers offset the costs associated with applying for USDA-VAPG assistance, such as those associated with grant writers and feasibility study consultants. Ultimately, eight recipients of the NCVACS-VAPG assistance received $1.2 million in USDA funding 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 https://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu.

Writer: Justin Moore