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, please contact Project Manager Jennifer Ferre or your local Cooperative Extension agent.

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 in 2020 or earlier;
  • Generate more than 1/2 of individual income from crops or farm products;
  • Actively participate in grower associations or commodity group meetings*.

*We understand that due to COVID-19, many group meetings may have been cancelled in the past 6 months. Please list your most recent participation in these meetings.

You are still eligible to apply if you do not meet all of the above criteria.

Be clear and accurate when describing your farming and tobacco history

  • Answer all the tobacco history questions to the best of your ability.
  • 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.
  • Visit a similar operation and explain what you learned. What was successful? What would you do differently?
  • 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—not a passing fad.

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.

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 $3000 would require a project budget of at least $3300 and a $6000 award request would require a budget of at least $6600. 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.