Described as a self-help program for farmers, Nickels for Know-How is a 60-year-old voluntary assessment on feed and fertilizer produced and purchased in North Carolina. On Nov. 16, the Nickels referendum passed with a whopping 96 percent of the vote.
Nickels for Know-How raises about $1.3 million annually to support agricultural research, extension and teaching programs in the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services collects Nickels funds from the manufacturers of feed and fertilizer. The manufacturers build the extra cost—three nickels per ton—into the price of their products. The funds are then deposited with the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc., based in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Virtually every significant advancement in our state’s agriculture in the last 60 years has received Nickels funding at some point,” said Dr. Johnny Wynne, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Without Nickels, our college would not be able to serve the citizens of North Carolina as well as we do.”
All users of feed and fertilizer in North Carolina, along with their families, are eligible to vote. This year’s vote passed overwhelmingly in all 100 North Carolina counties and by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The Nickels program creates opportunities for students by helping raise funds for more than 550 endowments that provide $900,000 in scholarships each year. These endowments also bolster faculty efforts, county extension programs and agricultural commodity research efforts.
The program supports college fundraising efforts by generating $20 million annually in private contributions. This is a $50 return on every $1 dollar invested.
Nickels funds also provide operating support for entities such as the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Foundation and the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund.
“These are just a few of the ways Nickels for Know-How has helped advance efforts in the college and the university that, in turn, support North Carolina farmers and bolster agribusiness in our state,” Wynne said. “By passing this referendum, the state’s voters have played a key role in creating opportunities that will benefit all North Carolina citizens.”