Several grants available for NC farmers and rural communities

by | Oct 7, 2019

Fall is traditionally called “harvest season,” but it’s also grant season for several agricultural organizations in North Carolina. That means farmers and others could get thousands of dollars to help with projects on the farm and in the surrounding rural communities. Here’s a roundup of some available grants. Contact the organization for more information.

  • WNC AgOptions is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses. Applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension agents by Oct. 14 to schedule an appointment to discuss their projects. (That appointment should be at least a month before the application deadline mentioned below). WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties, as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Deadline to apply is Nov. 15.
  • Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) is about to open its 2020 grant application period and is scheduling outreach informational sessions in October and November. Grant applications are due November-December. Up to $9,000 to individual farmers and up to $11,000 for collaborative farmer projects located in North Carolina. Preview at and go to to register to apply.
  • AgCarolina Farm Credit is accepting grant applications through Oct. 15 for programs benefiting farmers and rural residents in its 34-county service area in Eastern North Carolina. Grants are available up to $5,000 per organization for programs in one of four focus areas: Education, Environment, Technology or the Quality of Rural Life. Grants will be group- or organization-based and generally will not be given to individuals. (This grant is not just for farmers. It is open to anyone doing work to benefit farmers and/or their surrounding community.)
  • Organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the USDA’s Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Applications for funding are due Oct. 31.
  • The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is now accepting applications for the NC Organic Cost Share program. This year’s program will reimburse applicants for expenses incurred and paid towards obtaining or continuing organic certification between Oct. 1, 2018, and Sept. 30, 2019. Covered expenses include application fees, inspection costs, travel costs for inspectors and sales assessments. The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 29. Contact NCDA&CS marketing specialist Heather Barnes at or 919-707-3127 for more information.
  • The N.C. Bioenergy Research Initiative is seeking grant proposals focused on research and development of agricultural and forestry-based feedstocks for bioenergy production as well as new and emerging crops. High consideration will be given to projects that focus on crop production that will provide feedstock for bioenergy-related technologies, potential edible crops, new adaptations of crops and economic analysis. Applications must be postmarked by Nov. 8. For more information, contact Allison Medlin at or at 919-693-2483.
  • Watch for the opening of USDA Value Added Producer Grants expected this month. Contact the USDA Rural Development office in Raleigh at 919-873-2000 for more information.
  • Southern SARE is accepting grants for research projects including heritage breeds, grazing, alternative livestock, marketing, value-added, organic, local food and silvopasture. Application deadline is Nov. 15.
  • Farmers who wish to improve the welfare of their farm animals or build capacity and expand their operations may apply for a Fund-a-Farmer Grant from Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT). Grants range between $2,500 for individual farmers to $5,000 for joint projects that will benefit multiple farms. Applications must be submitted online by Dec. 2. Grants will be awarded in February 2020.