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Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:10

From truffles to crawfish, grants encourage the avant garde farmer

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The WNC Agricultural Options program recently awarded $326,000 in grants to help farmers diversify and for joint marketing and distribution efforts.

“These farmers have a wide variety of innovative ideas and we expect successful outcomes from which other farmers can learn,” said Bill Teague, acting chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, which funds WNC Ag Options.

Individual grants included: Traditional Cherokee Delicacies in Cherokee, truffles in Jackson County, poultry processing in Haywood, beekeeping in Macon County, production of heritage variety of peppers in Macon County, refrigeration transport in Haywood, raspberry propagation in Haywood, heritage bird production in Jackson, and more.

WNC AgOptions has given 300 individual grants to farmers since 2004 to protect mountain farmland by assisting the longevity of farm enterprises.

This year grants have been extended to collective groups of farmers to solve logistical challenges in the local agricultural system, which have been identified as the main barrier in boosting farm income. This year, that included marketing grants for the Jackson County Christmas Tree Association and Mountain Cattle Alliance in the far western counties.

For a full list of 2011 recipients go to www.wncagoptions.org.

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