Six Tennessee businesses will now have the opportunity to grow and positively impact rural economies through grants provided by the Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF). Edgefield Prime Meat Company, Dunlap, was among them.
Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe joined local, state and business leaders in Greenback to announce the first recipients of funding through the new program. This first round of funding adds up to more than $400,000 of the $1 million set aside for the AEF.
A product of the Governor’s Rural Task Force, the AEF is an incentive program that supports Governor Haslam’s priority of job creation and economic development by facilitating agricultural development in Tennessee. It provides assistance to new and expanding Tennessee agriculture and food businesses, particularly in rural counties.
“These recipients have solid and specific plans to improve agribusiness opportunities and the local economy in their areas,” Commissioner Templeton said. “They are investing in their communities. Grant money is still available, so we encourage all others who are interested in the Agriculture Enterprise Fund to apply.”
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.
"We’re proud to partner with the Department of Agriculture to award these grants and support the expansion of agribusinesses in rural Tennessee,” Commissioner Rolfe said. “Agriculture is a critical component to a successful and vibrant Tennessee economy and these grants will facilitate new job opportunities for Tennesseans.”
AEF grant recipients and projects announced include:
· AgCentral Farmers Cooperative, Athens and Greenback –Adding a soybean roaster
· AgLaunch, Memphis – Creating a network of model farms for innovation and research
· Edgefield Prime Meat Company, Dunlap – Expanding the meat processing facility
· Light Hill Meats, Lynnville – Expanding the meat processing facility
· Seven Springs Farm to Table, Maynardville – Adding a commercial kitchen facility
· Three Roots Capital, Knoxville – Growing agricultural businesses in rural East Tennessee
“My family and I are very appreciative to receive help from the Agriculture Enterprise Fund,” Ben Neale of Light Hill Meats said. “We are working hard every day to build a productive enterprise that helps our customers by providing more business opportunities for their operations.”
You will find more information about the Tennessee Agriculture Enterprise Fund at www.tn.gov/agriculture, or by emailing Laura Vaught at firstname.lastname@example.org.