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Farmers can apply for grants

Farmers using new ideas for crops can apply for grants that reward diversifying.

WNC Agricultural Options' 10th annual grant cycle is underway. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions will award a total of $153,000 to diversifying farmers in western North Carolina in 2014. Farmers have until Dec. 13 to apply for a $3,000 or $6,000 grant.

"The 2014 funding cycle will represent a decade of service to our agricultural industry through farmer grants, educational seminars and technical assistance," said Ross Young, Madison County Extension Director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader. "Since 2004, more than 350 farmer grants and several community grants have been awarded. We are extremely grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission as the sole funder of this program since its inception."

The Commission has helped ensure that farmers continue farming during changes in the tobacco industry in the past 25 years. "The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission works hard to provide benefits to communities affected by changes in the tobacco industry," said William H. (Bill) Teague, chairman of the Commission. "The WNC AgOptions program has been consistent and effective in helping western North Carolina farmers carry out innovative and income-producing ideas."

Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has distributed more than $1.6 million to farmers in western North Carolina who are diversifying their operations. These small grants often turn farms toward profitability, as well as make significant economic impacts in the surrounding communities.

Download applications at