Tobacco Trust awards $6.1 million in grants
The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission announced $6.1 million in new grants for a record 36 projects funded.
The grants place a priority on projects that address ways to stimulate the agricultural economy in local communities, decrease unemployment and strengthen sales of local foods. Projects that support North Carolina’s agricultural economy, especially in areas affected by changes in the tobacco industry, were targeted.
“The rural economy in North Carolina has continued to face challenges in a post-tobacco buyout era,” said Billy Carter, the Commission’s chairman. “With this new grant cycle, the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission placed a high priority on projects that will stimulate sales of North Carolina products, assist dislocated workers with workforce development and fund other innovative projects.”
Since 2002, the NCTTF has awarded grants to public and nonprofit agencies that meet the goals of strengthening the rural and tobacco-dependent economies of North Carolina.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received more than $1 million in grants for research, marketing and international trade initiatives.
The 2010 grants include projects such as jump-starting local foods coalitions across the state, job skills training at 24 community colleges, funding for new farmers markets, a new campaign to assist nursery and landscape companies and expanded research on crops such as raspberries, organic canola and hard winter wheat.
These projects will complement an already diverse grant portfolio that includes such statewide initiatives as energy efficiency programs, a major drought response project that more than 1,000 farmers have benefitted from and cost-share assistance to help small farmers diversify their operations.
The General Assembly created the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission in 2000 to help soften the financial impact to farmers and tobacco-related businesses caused by the sharp decline of tobacco in the agricultural economy. Funding comes from monies paid by cigarette manufacturers under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement.
For more about the 2010 grants, go to www.tobaccotrustfund.org.