NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen and Agriculture Commissioner Terry J. Oliver today announced Producer Diversification cost share awards totaling more than $930,000. The funds will help 162 Tennessee farmers invest in new or expanding areas of agriculture.
The Producer Diversification cost share opportunity is part of the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program established in 2005 by Governor Bredesen and funded by the Tennessee General Assembly to spur farm investment in Tennessee.
“More than ever, it is important for farmers to look at ways to diversify their operations,” said Governor Bredesen. “These business investments and opportunities will not only help farmers keep their operations profitable but they will help strengthen our rural economy in communities across the state.”
In its sixth year, the Producer Diversification cost share opportunity is helping farmers expand or improve their operations through production of varied agricultural products. Diversified agricultural products include agritourism, aquaculture, honey bees, fruits and vegetables, horticulture, organics, value-added products, viticulture and others as approved by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
“This program is making a real difference for producers,” said Oliver. “More and more farmers are seeing the benefit to diversifying their operations and are achieving continued success.”
Through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, which provides a variety of cost share opportunities for farmers and also includes programs aimed at cattle improvement, hay and feed storage and animal health improvement, producers can make their operations more profitable.
Through the Producer Diversification cost share opportunity, Tennessee farmers can apply for reimbursement of 35-50 percent, up to $15,000 in some instances, for eligible cost share activities.
The dollars are meant to help farmers who want to install farm infrastructure, purchase specialty equipment and market their diversified farm products. Applications are then reviewed for eligibility, ranked and approved on a competitive basis, based on project plans and the potential to increase farm income.
The 162 projects funded this year represent a wide range of new and emerging agricultural investments. Funding by project category for this year breaks down as follows:
- Agritourism – 34
- Fruits and Vegetables – 38
- Honey Bees – 28
- Horticulture – 24
- Organics – 10
- Value-added Products – 9
- Viticulture – 19
Farmers interested in submitting a proposal for funding will have a chance to apply again next year. For more information on TAEP, visit www.TN.gov/agriculture/enhancement/.