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New Round of Agriculture Enterprise Fund Recipients Announced

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 | 02:40pm

NASHVILLE – Seven more Tennessee businesses will now have the opportunity to grow and positively impact rural economies through grants provided by the Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF).

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, along with Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, announced the sixth round of recipients of funding through the program.

“As we continue to focus on rural economic development, I am confident that the AEF program will strengthen our rural and distressed counties and provide opportunities for communities all across Tennessee,” Governor Lee said. “I am proud to extend funding for this program in our proposed budget, and I look forward to seeing the positive economic impact to come from these impressive seven businesses.”

The AEF is an incentive program that supports job creation and economic growth by facilitating agricultural development in Tennessee. It provides assistance to new and expanding Tennessee agriculture, forestry, and food businesses, particularly in rural counties.

“When you talk about economic development in rural counties, you’re talking about agriculture and forestry,” Commissioner Hatcher said. “The AEF program is vital to helping us leverage private investment in rural communities to create more jobs and markets for farmers and forest landowners. We appreciate that Governor Lee recognizes the value of this program and has already supported its growth in his proposed budget.”

Successful grant recipients must demonstrate a strong potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation. Priority is given to businesses located in at-risk or distressed counties.

“Nearly 80 of Tennessee’s 95 counties are rural, and one of our main goals at TNECD is to position rural Tennessee for economic growth and success,” Commissioner Rolfe said. “With the assistance of AEF grants, these seven businesses will be given the tools they need to be better equipped for economic and agricultural development.”

AEF grant recipients and projects announced include:

  • Alliance Hardwood, Greene County – new sawmill for walnut lumber
  • Lick Skillet, LLC, Jefferson County – beef cattle operation adding a walk-in freezer
  • Mountain Valley Vineyards, Sevier County –winery adding a filtration system
  • MPS Farming, Hickman County – adding canola oil press
  • Olde Farmhouse Creamery, McMinn County – adding a creamery
  • Sequatchie Cove Creamery, Sequatchie County – adding storage to hold local milk
  • White Oak Stave, Madison County – adding a saw to increase production

“We are humbled and thankful to have been awarded these funds in support of Tennessee Agriculture,” Jonathon Ball of Mountain Valley Vineyards said. “Through the Agriculture Enterprise Fund grant, we will be able to vastly improve our capabilities to process Tennessee-grown fruit into value-added products. This will result in more Tennessee farmers finding a market for their grapes, blackberries, peaches, and more.”

You will find more information about the Tennessee Agriculture Enterprise Fund by clicking here or by emailing Kyle Hensley at kyle.hensley@tn.gov.