General tips for writing the proposal
The following tips have been provided to guide you as you prepare your WNC AgOptions application. Not all the tips/questions will be applicable to your particular project, and these tips do not represent ALL the information required in the application. If you have any questions, your local Cooperative Extension agent.
Your Cooperating Agent is your partner on your application…and an excellent resource for you!
- MEET THE “INTENT TO APPLY” DEADLINE: By October 13, 2023, talk to your local county NC Cooperative Extension agent about your AgOptions proposal.
- Your Cooperating Agent will be you partner and will provide assistance on developing your project proposal.
- If your agent is familiar with your farm and operation, a phone call may suffice.
- If you have not worked closely with your agent before, they may need to make a visit to your farm so they can better assist you with your project.
- Your Cooperating Agent will provide a recommendation form to the review team.
- Those who do not meet the Intent to Apply deadline will not receive all points possible in the review process.
Show you are a legitimate agricultural operation
On page two of the application, space is provided for you to show that you:
- Have a N.C. Dept. of Revenue Tax Exemption number;
- Have a Farm Service Agency number;
- Filed a Schedule F or equivalent Schedule C to the IRS
- Generate more than 1/2 of individual income from crops or farm products;
- Carry insurance for your farm business;
- Participate in Present Use Value program.
You are still eligible to apply if you do not meet all of the above criteria.
Be clear and accurate when describing your (the applicant’s) farming and tobacco history
- Answer the questions for the applicant’s tobacco growing history as an owner/operator in North Carolina.
- Include any and all farming history that gives the reader a clear picture of your farming experience.
- Make sure to describe your current farming operation in detail: What is your total farm acreage? How many employees do you have? What do you currently produce? How long have you been farming?
Show that you have done thorough research of production methods
- Write the proposal as if the reader has limited knowledge of your particular farming operation.
- Provide enough information to give a clear overview of your project and its goals.
- Explain that you are aware of the pros and cons of the project you are proposing.
- If your project includes new/innovative ideas, explain how the project is economically sustainable for your farm.
- What will you use the grant money for?
Show that you have done thorough research of your potential markets
- Who has agreed to buy your product?
- What is the demand for your product/service? How do you know?
- Show that you have considered more than one market in case one avenue is blocked.
- Show that you are prepared for changes in market conditions.
- Show that you have done thorough research of your potential markets
Give details about the expected outcomes of your project
- What is your expected increase in income?
- How will this project boost your existing operation?
- Will any other farmers in your region benefit from your project?
- How many new customers do you intend to reach?
- What other goals to you hope to accomplish with this project?
Describe how your project will be an example for other farmers to follow
- What is the potential for others in the region to replicate your project?
- How many other farmers in your region/county are trying similar successful ventures?
- Give local context to your project. How is your project new and unique to your area?
- How will you make your project, and the information you gain from it, available to others?
Thoroughly research your budget
- Provide a financial plan for your proposed project. A financial plan should include your estimated expenses, any in-kind contributions, and your expected income for years one and two of your proposed project. If there is a cost savings because of your project, please provide an explanation for the savings.
- Budget total must be at least 10% higher than the requested award amount. An award request of $4000 would require a project budget of at least $4400 and a $8000 award request would require a budget of at least $8800. The project budget cannot be less than the amount you are requesting.
- If labor is included, please specify “contractor” or “employee.” The applicant’s or his/her immediate family’s labor is considered in-kind and should not be included as part of the project’s budget.
- You may list all in-kind contributions, such as the value of your (or your immediate family’s) labor, supplies, equipment, land, etc. In-kind contributions do not count towards the project budget.
Include at least two letters of support from your cooperators
- In addition to your Cooperating Extension Agent, provide the names of any other people who will provide support to you and your project and explain specifically how they will help you.
- Qualifying letters of support should be from people/organizations who will directly support you on your project such as potential buyers, crop consultants, agriculture advisors, marketing specialists, etc.
- Letters should not be character references only.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS:
- Typed applications highly recommended
- Do not use binders or folders
- Hard copies must be AT WNC Communities offices by 5pm on November 17, 2023
- Emailed applications must received by NOON
- All application documents, including attachments, must be in PDF format.
- All sections of application must be submitted; including SECTIONS V and VI (scans are acceptable). If awarded, you will need to provide originals before any money is dispersed.
- Application should be in a single PDF file if possible. If file is too big, additional attachments can be sent as one document and the application as a separate document.
- Emailed applications must be received by NOON on Friday, November 17, 2023.
- Email application to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please include the words 2024 WNC AgOptions Application in the subject line.