NASHVILLE — Governor Bill Lee and Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M., announced today the largest number of Agricultural Enterprise Fund (AEF) recipients and the highest award of grant dollars in the program’s history. Just over $951,000 will be dispersed to 28 agricultural, food, and forestry businesses.
“The Ag Enterprise Fund has made recognizable improvements in Tennessee’s ag and forestry industries in just four years,” Governor Lee said. “The strategic investments from this program improve the local food supply chain, create new market opportunities for producers, and lead to strong economic impact in our communities.”
AEF awards grants to starting or expanding agricultural, food, and forestry businesses in Tennessee and supports Governor Lee’s priorities in rural areas. Awards are made to those who demonstrate a potential for measurable impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation. Priority is given to businesses located in or adjacent to economically at-risk or distressed counties.
“This record-making round of funding will effect businesses and economies in nearly every county in Tennessee,” Commissioner Hatcher said. “From meat processors and food manufacturers to sawmills and feed processors, growth of these businesses will have a lasting impact on Tennessee’s number one industry. We invite agricultural businesses and entrepreneurs to contact our Business Development Division to apply for AEF assistance.”
One recipient will use the funds to purchase equipment for a new meat processing business. “After recognizing the need and demand for meat processing in our area, we decided to develop a new business to fill in the gap for other nearby farmers,” Susan Kinser of Kinser Processing in Grainger County said. “The Ag Enterprise Fund will enable us to have processing capacity to support our city, our county, and our region.”
AEF grant recipients and projects announced for District 38 include:
D&D Meats Inc, 107 Donaldson Avenue, Celina for Meat Processing - $45,750
J&L Wholesale, 309 Theater Drive, Celina for Aquaculture - $10,000
In total, the Agricultural Enterprise Fund has awarded nearly $5.3 million in funding to Tennessee businesses, leveraging more than $82 million in agriculture and forest-product economic development since the program’s launch. You will find more information about AEF at www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/aef.html or by emailing Will Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.