Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has administered 423 grants totaling nearly $2 million, including nine community group projects, which often affect hundreds of farmers.

Based on data collected from the 2009-2011 projects, the following is a snapshot of a typical WNC AgOptions recipient:

He or she (grants are fairly evenly distributed between sexes) is 48 years old with 2.75 people in the household, and has 54.73 acres in production, typically in cattle, woodlots and/or hay. The next most popular ventures are vegetables, Fraser Firs, miscellaneous berries and nurseries. The recipient owns 72.31 acres, 55 of which are in production. Because of the WNC AgOptions project, more than seven or those acres remained in production. The recipient’s income is at least 38% from farming, and more than 20% of that farm income is a result of the WNC AgOptions project. He/she used to farm 3.4 acres of tobacco, but now farms less than a half an acre of tobacco.

The average grant is $5,104, and to complete the project, the recipient contributed Grant Award: $3,166 in personal savings, $839 in other grants or loans, $881 in other farm income, and Grant Award: $6,058 in in-kind labor or equipment. In the first year, the recipient grossed $8,169 in new income and net Grant Award: $3,927. He/she expects to gross $14,646 from the project in year 2, $18,238 in year 3, and $27,820 in year 3. The recipient’s grant project created or retained 1.899 people and re-employed .67 people. There’s a good chance he/she transitioned from part-time to full-time work on the farm, as nine recipients do so each year. The recipient reached 298 farmers, customers, students and/or workshop participants while completing the grant project. He/she was extremely satisfied with the WNC AgOptions project, rating the program a 9.69 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Since the program funds approximately 40 recipients similar to the one profiled here each year, it easily has a multi-million dollar annual economic impact and reaches thousands of people.

Recent economic studies have confirmed the big impacts of small agriculture grants. Dr. Andrew Brod at the UNC-Greensboro Center for Business and Economic Research analyzed the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, a program at the Pittsboro-based Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, with which WNC AgOptions partnered to administer grants from 2009-2011.

During those three years, the state-wide program invested $3.6 million in 367 projects, with a result of more than $33 million in economic benefits to the state and more than 4,100 new jobs. The study looks at the money and jobs created directly on-farm and the multiplier effect in the state economy. The program created $205 new dollars circulating in the economy for every dollar spent, the study concluded.