The Golden LEAF Foundation’s $45 million grant to N.C. State University is a remarkably symbolic and effective use of the state’s proceeds from a national settlement with cigarette manufacturers.
The grant will help North Carolina to diversify and develop its plant agriculture with funds linked to the harmful effects of cigarettes made from the plant that once defined North Carolina farming, tobacco. Now NCSU, in partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, will be able to advance work on a multitude of crops that will support better nutrition and health.
“This investment further establishes North Carolina and NC State as international leaders in agricultural research and innovation, which will yield significant economic opportunities for our rural communities while providing food solutions to people around the globe,” NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.
The Golden Leaf grant makes it possible for the university and the N.C. Department of Agriculture to go forward with plans to build a $160 million plant sciences research complex on the university’s Centennial Campus. The grant is the largest single contribution to NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and among the largest in NCSU history.
The research complex will advance the pure science of plant biology, but it will also have practical benefits for North Carolina farmers. Discoveries and refinements made at the new complex could improve yields, reduce the cost of livestock feed and lower the need for insecticides.