The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (NCTTFC) awarded more than $4 million through 23 grants for agriculture and economic initiatives across the state including a grant to support Piedmont Community College’s (PCC) Center for Educational and Agricultural Development (CEAD) project. These grants place a high priority on projects that stimulate the agricultural economy, train current and future farmers, and help farmers execute innovative ideas.

“Through these grants, our Commission has been able to fund a diverse group of projects that will benefit farmers in every corner of the state, whether they produce livestock, row crops, or any other number of commodities in North Carolina,” said Bill Teague, Chairman of the NCTTFC.

The $4 million supports projects that assist counties with facility enhancements, universities with research and educational opportunities, commodity groups with marketing, and farmers with operations improvements and diversification.

Six of the awarded projects are to improve agricultural programs and facilities at high school, community college, and universities. PCC was awarded $368,300 to support its CEAD project by funding efforts to transform historic tobacco land into 10-12 incubator plots for local farmers and entrepreneurs in Caswell County.

The land, owned by PCC, will be leased for a small fee to new and transitioning farmers and entrepreneurs. The program will provide wrap around support to afford local farmers and entrepreneurs new education, production, and retail opportunities for their local harvests. Independent farm businesses leasing the plots will be responsible for care and maintenance of their plots but may use PCC’s agriculture equipment and resources to help start, build, and transition their enterprises. The local Agriculture Extension Agency will oversee leases, provide business mentorship and work with PCC to manage shared resources and general site management through a Memorandum of Agreement.

“PCC’s CEAD project embraces the agricultural heritage of Caswell. Adding the many partnerships, including that of the Extension Agency and the incubator plots, increases the reach of the land, allowing for new opportunities and future growth in farming,” said Pamela G. Senegal, PCC President. “We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for recognizing and supporting our effort to transform a former tobacco farm into a location that will once again boost the local economy while embracing the agricultural roots and culture of its citizens.”

In addition to these grants, the NCTTFC renewed its partnership with the WNC Communities – Ag Options program. This program’s purpose is to provide small grants directly to on-farm projects that support increasing farm profitability.

The N.C. General Assembly created the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission in 2000 to lessen the financial impact to farmers and tobacco-related businesses caused by the sharp decline of tobacco in the agricultural economy. The commission’s original funding was established through tobacco industry annual payments as a result of the Master Settlement Agreement. Its current funding comes from a set appropriation of funds. Since 2002, the NCTTFC has awarded more than 400 grants to public and nonprofit agencies that meet the goals of strengthening the rural and tobacco-dependent economies of North Carolina.

For more information and a full list of grant recipients visit www.tobaccotrustfund.org. To learn more about PCC’s CEAD project, including present programs and future plans, visit www.piedmontcc.edu/cead.

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