In 1997, RAFI-USA created a cost-share grant program to help farmers replace lost tobacco income by putting their own ideas to work. The Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund (TCRF) program began as a four-county pilot and has expanded with support from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to serve all 100 counties in the state.
Today, the program support farmers and rural communities in developing new and innovative sources of agricultural income through the provision of cost-share grants. The enterprises supported through this program represent a wide variety of lessons and experiences relevant to thousands within the state’s agricultural industry.
Projects have included innovative & model pack-houses, mobile farmers markets, heritage poultry breeding, beef liver jerky, heirloom collards, mozzarella cheesecakes, farm-to-school projects, ethnic produce, micro-dairy bottling, low tunnel season extension and tropical plant production, wind powered farms, model collaborative marketing ventures and more.
The economic impact of the program has two components, an investment impact resulting from grantees’ spending on new equipment, buildings, and other improvements; and an operational impact resulting from the expansion of grantees’ farming operations.
“The TCRF supported the creation of between 578 and 583 new jobs in 2008-09, between 1,708 and 1,721 new jobs in 2009-10, and between 1,861 and 1,890 new jobs in 2010-11. In the three years analyzed for this report, the TCRF created or induced the creation of over 4,100 new jobs in North Carolina.”
In 2011, TCRF provided nearly $2M in grants to 180 innovative farm enterprises in North Carolina. A major economic impact study by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro concluded that each grant, at an average $10K per grant, creates 11 new jobs within one year, and each dollar invested creates $205 in economic impact annually in North Carolina.
In 2012, TCRF funded 34 innovative farm projects in central and eastern North Carolina.
- The 34 enterprises funded in 2012 represent over 200 farmers in 24 counties, from Rutherford County in the southwest to Dare County on the Outer Banks.
- The total dollar amount awarded was $323,000 and the farmer-investment was projected to surpass $800,000.
- Of the 200 participating farmers, 68 are former or current tobacco farmers.
- The total farmland for the 34 projects comes to 7,475 acres in commercial production.
- Click here to view a summary of 2012 grantees.
In 2013, the farmer grants program will award $180,000 in grants to independent family farmers and collaborative farmer projects in North Carolina. This funding cycle, the program will award cost share grants of up to $8,000 to individual farmers or $10,000 to collaborative farmer projects in North Carolina. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis.
Early Bird Applications: November 14, 2012
Application Deadline: December 5, 2012
Award Notification Date: February 27, 2013
Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate a way to replace lost tobacco income. High priority will be given to innovative projects that show a new direction or opportunity for farmers in North Carolina. In addition, The TCRF grants program aims to support innovative, replicable farm-based enterprises. We are interested in funding projects that:
- have a likelihood of generating new farm income;
- establish new markets for local products and services;
- develop new uses for existing greenhouses, tobacco facilities and equipment;
- add value to existing farm products by processing, packaging or marketing in a special or innovative way;
- maintain or create quality employment opportunities, including self-employment or opportunities for home-based businesses; or
- make optimal use of on-farm and natural resources.
- To be eligible for a grant, a farmer must generate at least 50% of his/her personal income from their farm operation.
- Individuals who have received a grant from RAFI-USA or the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission in the past, are not eligible to apply.
Collaborative Farmer Project Eligibility:
- An eligible “collaborative farmer project” may be a group of farmers, farm coops, farmer associations, churches, local business, civic organizations or combinations of these.
- The proposed collaborative farmer project must include the participation of at least three (3) eligible North Carolina farmers, as defined above.
- Eligible farmers must be active in the leadership of the proposed project.
To apply for a grant, submit a completed application to: RAFI-USA, PO Box 640, Pittsboro, NC 27312. Note: Emailed and/or faxed applications will not be accepted. Applications must be received by the deadline to be considered for funding.
**Application Deadline: The final deadline to apply for a grant is December 5, 2012.**
Early Bird Deadline – November 14, 2012. Applications received prior to the early bird deadline will be reviewed by program staff and all applicants will be provided feedback and sugestions on how to improve or revise their applications as needed. Individuals who are not able to attend the free informational workshops are highly encouraged to apply prior to the early bird deadline.
“How to Apply” Workshops – Informational workshops will be offered throughout the state throughout October and November of 2012 (see schedule on the left sidebar of this page). During these workshops, TCRF program staff will review the program’s eligibility guidelines and application process. The workshops will provide attending prospective applicants with an opportunity to ask program staff questions specific to their proposed projects. Prospective applicants are highly encouraged to attend.
For tips on how to write an effective grant proposal, please download the How to Write an Effective Proposal document.
For additional information contact:
Will Robinson, TCRF Program Coordinator
Tel: (919) 542-1396, Ext 208