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 supports 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.”
- Dr. Andew Brod, The Economic Impact of RAFI-USA’s Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund
In 2013, TCRF awarded $180,000 in grants to independent family farmers and collaborative farmer projects in North Carolina. Click here to view a summary of 2013 grantees.
In 2012, TCRF funded 34 innovative farm projects in central and eastern North Carolina. Click here to view a summary of 2012 grantees.
- 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.
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.
The deadline to submit an application for our 2014 grant cycle has passed. To learn more about the application process and eligibility requirements, click here.
The TCRF is generously supported by a grant from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. We thank the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for their commitment to North Carolina farmers and to RAFI’s work to support them. Learn more about the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission’s work on their website at: http://www.tobaccotrustfund.org/