Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Executive Director William Upchurch via Zoom and filmed an episode of Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Upchurch has more than 30 years of experience in the agriculture industry. Upchurch was the organization’s first employee and remains its executive director.
The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission was created in 2000 to to assist current and former tobacco farmers, former quota holders, persons engaged in tobacco-related businesses, individuals displaced from tobacco-related employment, and tobacco product component businesses in North Carolina that have been affected by the adverse effects of the Master Settlement Agreement. The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission can disburse funds through compensatory programs and qualified agricultural programs.
The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission has a yearly grant cycle that opens in January of each year and is now accepting grant applications through March 3, 2023. Access the application, guidelines, and other information about the funding opportunity by clicking here.
Federal, local and state governments; economic development groups; educational institutions; and nonprofits can apply for grants through the Tobacco Trust Fund. While individuals can also apply, Upchurch said that the Tobacco Trust Fund encourages individuals to work with one of their cost-share partners: NC AgVentures at N.C. State, AgPrime at the University of Mount Olive, and WNC AgOptions at WNC Communities. Upchurch said that the Tobacco Trust Fund is open to talking with folks who have questions about the grant cycle and its cost-share partners.
Upchurch explained the Tobacco Trust Fund provides funding to help move North Carolina’s agriculture forward. The Tobacco Trust Fund grant cycle focuses on the priorities of community economic development, skill and resource development, increasing farm profitability, diversification of crops, and development of natural resources. They look for projects that support the following outcomes: farmers assisted, jobs created and retained, acreage impacted, new crops planted, funding leverage, and new education opportunities.
Partners that the Tobacco Trust Fund works with include N.C. State University, N.C. Agricultural and Technical University, the N.C. Farm Bureau, the Grange, N.C. Economic Development Association, commodity groups, Golden LEAF as well as many others who work in the area of agriculture.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our February 9th edition of LEAF Lines.