The Agricultural Advancement Consortium promotes the benefits of a strong farm sector and considers new ways to increase farm profitability. It conducts original research and awards grants for research and demonstration projects with potential to create new products or markets and to improve agricultural practices.
The consortium is a 23-member board that includes state and local leaders in agriculture, business and policy. Its purpose is to develop a shared vision for farming in North Carolina and to coordinate prudent actions to improve farming's long-term vitality. Its goals are to:
The consortium has made dozens of grants to support demonstration projects into alternative crops, new markets, innovative production techniques and new marketing strategies. It also conducts original research. At the request of the N.C. General Assembly, for example, it administered a statewide study of the economic impact of the equine industry. The study’s report was released in May 2009. The consortium also has issued a report examining agriculture in each of the state’s seven economic development regions.
In addition, the consortium assumed a leadership role in supporting the development of the North Carolina biofuels industry and in farm disaster relief. The consortium helped draft a strategic plan for biofuels development. Based on that plan, the General Assembly appropriated $5 million for the creation of the North Carolina Biofuels Center in Oxford. The Biofuels Center opened in May 2008. Also in May 2008, the N.C. Agriculture Drought Recovery Program was launched to help North Carolina farmers affected by ongoing drought. The Rural Center and the Agricultural Advancement Consortium worked with the General Assembly’s Joint Select Committee on Agricultural Drought Response, the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, several state agencies and other agricultural interests to design the cost-share program.