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Applications are now open for RAFI’s 2014 Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund grants. Click here to download the applications. The grants are $8,000 each or $10,000 for a collaborative group project. The deadline for all applications is Dec. 4, 2013. The early bird deadline is Nov. 20, 2013. If you are an existing North Carolina farmer earning at least 50% of your personal income from your farm operation, and farm in one of the 37 counties shown on the above map, you may be eligible to apply for a grant. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate a way to replace lost tobacco income. Competitive projects will explore innovative strategies in production, processing or marketing for the agricultural marketplace. Since the program’s inception in 1998, RAFI has distributed $5 million to more than 500 individual and collaborative enterprises throughout the state. These projects support families and create opportunities and expertise for more independent land-based businesses to develop in rural tobacco-dependent communities throughout the state. On average, every dollar per grant goes on to create $11 more, and each project leads to the development of four jobs. The grants provide funding for farmers’ own ingenuity–the best models for our state’s agriculture economy are based on the ideas farmers in these communities already have. 2014 grants are open to farmers who work in one of the following tobacco-dependent counties: Alamance, Alexander, Beaufort, Bertie, Caswell, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Sampson, Stokes, Surry, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, Wilson. RAFI will hold information sessions at the following cooperative extension buildings from 6-8 PM: Nov. 4 in Guilford County 3309 Burlington Rd, Greensboro, NC 27405 Nov. 5 in Wake County 4001-E Carya Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610 Nov. 6 in Pitt County 403 Government Circle, Suite 2, Greenville, NC 27834 Nov. 7 in Sampson County 55 Agriculture Pl, Clinton, NC 28328 Click here to download a workshop flyer to share with your community. For more information and to apply, visit www.ncfarmgrants.org or contact Joe Schroeder at (919) 542-1396 x208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.