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Sweet Grass Farm receives third WNC AgOptions grant

Farm works to lower cattle size

Sweet Grass Farm owners Randy and Megan Smith plan to put a $6,000 WNC Agricultural Options grant to use by purchasing a chest freezer for retail grass fed beef sales and a registered American Angus bull from Pharo Cattle Company (PCC) out of Cheyenne Wells, Colo.

“This is our third and final grant from AgOptions but we would be willing to help anyone apply for the next grant cycle if the program is funded for 2014,” Smith said.

Smith said in an interview last year that “a lot of people, especially younger people like us, wouldn’t be able to get into agriculture or keep a family farm alive,” without the grant program.

Western North Carolina farmers will receive $148,500 in WNC AgOptions grants to diversify their farm businesses in 2013. For the past decade, the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission has exclusively funded the grant program.

“The commission is very pleased to fund and support the WNC AgOptions program for another year,” said Bill Teague, chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “We expect to see some unique projects, because mountain farmers have shown they are resourceful, innovative and committed to making their farms successful.”

Six farm businesses received $3,000, one received $4,500 and 21 received $6,000. Many of the farmers are undertaking innovative projects unique to their communities.