NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced a $59,200 Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program grant to Bledsoe County and the city of Pikeville to help fund the construction of a new farmers market pavilion.
“I’m happy to announce this grant to help the county and city build a farmers market pavilion to better serve the area’s needs,” Haslam said. “The grant is part of our efforts to increase economic activity in our rural communities by responding to the growth in and demand for Tennessee’s fresh and local farm products.”
The grant follows a recommendation to increase local marketing opportunities for Tennessee farmers as outlined in the Governor’s Rural Challenge: A 10-Year Strategic Plan. The plan was developed last year at the request of Haslam to guide the state’s agricultural development efforts.
The grant is based on a proposal by the county and city to provide matching funds for the construction of a permanent pavilion for year-round use. The proposed 40 X 56-foot pavilion will be located at the site of the existing part-time market located in the downtown area of Pikeville.
The purpose of the TAEP Farmers Market Capital Development Grant Program is to increase income to Tennessee farmers by providing assistance for the establishment or improvement of farmers market in communities throughout the state.
“Farmers markets provide an excellent venue for farmers to sell their locally grown, farm fresh products directly to consumers,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Not only do these facilities help increase farm profitability but they also support agritourism and provide a focus for community and business activity year round.”
Gov. Haslam has fully funded the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program for the past three years with the support of the Tennessee General Assembly. The program, funded through the state’s cigarette sales tax, was established in 2005 to help increase farm income and rural economic activity.
State Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey) and state Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) represent Bledsoe County in the Tennessee General Assembly.