NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is accepting applications from agricultural, food, and forestry businesses to receive cost-share funding through its Agricultural Enterprise Fund (AEF) program, according to a news release.

The AEF awards grants to starting or expanding businesses in Tennessee and supports Gov. Bill Lee’s priorities in distressed counties. Awards are made to those who demonstrate a strong potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation.

“We look forward to supporting strong and impactful projects across our state with these strategic cost-share investments,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher said. “The positive results from previous grant recipients is evident, and we anticipate continued growth of agribusinesses through this round of the Agricultural Enterprise Fund.”

The application for the AEF program can be found online at agriculture.tn.gov/AEF/AEF_Application/Create, and the deadline to apply is April 1. Businesses must include proof of financing and a business plan with their application for it to be considered.

“The Agricultural Enterprise Fund program allowed us to expand in ways that will impact not just us, but our local economy,” Claire Getty of Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods in Huntland said. “We now work with more loggers and forest landowners from our community, our county, and our region.”

In total, the Agricultural Enterprise Fund has awarded nearly $4.3 million in funding to Tennessee businesses, leading to more than $59 million in private investments from agriculture and forest-product business development since the program’s launch in 2017. Find more information about the Tennessee Agricultural Enterprise Fund at www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/aef.html or by emailing Will Freeman at william.h.freeman@tn.gov.