Second Year of Ag Growth Cost Share Program Begins July 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee farmers can apply July 1 for the second round of cost share dollars to help diversify their farm operations announced state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens.
“We’re making efforts to support the kinds of activities that many of our farmers need as they branch out to alternative products. In fact, these are the kinds of production, marketing and promotion activities that could mean the difference between success and failure in an industry where profit margins are tight and the industry landscape is shifting,” said Givens.
The goal of the Tennessee Agricultural Growth Initiative is to build farm income by helping farmers expand or improve their operations through production of diversified agricultural products. Diversified agricultural products include agri-tourism, aquaculture, bees, fruits and vegetables, horticulture, goats and sheep, organics, value-added products, viticulture and others as approved by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
In the first year of the Ag Growth Initiative, the department funded 152 projects totaling more than $645,000.
The initiative was funded last year through a state appropriation for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP), which is a comprehensive plan to improve cattle production, expand animal health services and encourage farm diversification and innovation. In May, the Tennessee General Assembly approved Governor Phil Bredesen’s proposal for a $1 million increase and allocated an additional $2 million for a total of $6 million in TAEP funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Tennessee farmers can apply for reimbursement of 35 percent cost share for activities or items within several funding categories. A farmer may be eligible for cost share assistance in more than one category, but cannot receive more than a total of $10,000 in any fiscal year.
The cost share funds will benefit farmers who wish to install farm infrastructure, purchase specialty equipment and/or market their diversified farm products.
“There are opportunities for all types and sizes of operations within this cost share program. Whether you want to diversify, improve or expand an established part of your farm, it’s worth investigating,” said Ag Growth coordinator Jan Keyser.
Applicants must be Tennessee residents and operate a farm located in the state. Producers with livestock must first register their premises with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for the National Animal Identification Program in order to complete the application requirements.
Applications are now available through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development office and may be downloaded and printed from the department’s Web site, www.picktnproducts.org.
Applications will be accepted from July 1 – Sept. 30. Applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis by industry sector. Only projects that are approved in advance by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture will be eligible for cost share assistance. All approved projects will be announced Oct. 16. Producers will have a year to complete approved activities.
“It’s a little bit easier to have an entrepreneurial spirit when you know you have a partner in a new venture,” said Givens. “This cost share program allows us to be a good partner to those Tennessee farmers willing to invest themselves into something new.
“These are substantial grants,” said Givens. “We want Tennessee farmers to know we mean business when we say we want to help them do business for a long time into the future.”
For more information, contact Keyser at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 40627, Nashville, TN 37204, (615) 837-5346, or via e-mail at Ag.Growth@state.tn.us.