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Round two

Second group of Agriculture Enterprise Fund recipients announced
Story and photos by Chris Villines 5/24/2018


At an April 16 event in Clay County, Steve Anderson of Anderson Meats and Processing expresses appreciation to Tennessee Department of Agriculture officials for assistance to his business through the Agriculture Enterprise Fund.
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As a rare, light mid-April snow fell outside, nine Tennessee businesses were warmed by news they’re the latest grant recipients of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF).

At an April 16 press conference held at one of the recipients’ facilities, G.F. Hardwoods in Clay County, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton announced the second group in the program to receive funding. The nine businesses brings this year’s total funding up to more than $767,000 of the $1 million set aside for the AEF.

AgCentral Farmers Cooperative was among the six enterprises to receive funding during the first round of the AEF, using the grant money toward improvements to the Co-op’s grain facility at Greenback and feed mill operation in Athens.

“Today, we are congratulating and awarding these nine recipients with over $313,000 for a total economic impact of $4.5 million in counties and on farms and forests that greatly need the economic advantage that [the AEF] is creating,” said Commissioner Templeton in his remarks to the audience. “We want to focus on rural counties, and that’s why we are making this announcement in Clay County today. It’s rural communities that these dollars are impacting.”

In addition to G.F. Hardwoods, which will use the grant funding to improve delivery efficiency for hardwood lumber, among the other grant recipients and projects announced were:

• Anderson Meats and Processing, Smith County, building a new meat processing facility.

• Back Country Harvesters, Bledsoe, new business for firewood and bulk shavings.

• Blankenship Sawmill, Bledsoe, performing upgrades to its facilites.

• Circle S Farms, Wilson, expanding its meat processing facility.

• Frank’s Cedar Log & Lumber, Hardin, creating a new shavings product.

• Potts Processing, Bedford, expanding a meat processing facility.

• Villa Nove Vineyard, Johnson, adding a farm winery and selling direct to the public.

A product of the Governor’s Rural Task Force, the AEF is an incentive program that supports Governor Bill Haslam’s priority of job creation and economic development by facilitating agricultural development in Tennessee.

“We place a great emphasis on spurring economic growth in rural areas of our state and helping our most vulnerable counties succeed,” said Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). “In 2017, 45 percent of TNECD’s projects were located in rural Tennessee, and we want to continue our work to provide business development opportunities as well as promote community and agricultural development throughout the state.”

Steve Anderson of Anderson Meats and Processing was in attendance at the event with wife Maria. Steve, president of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, was pleased to learn he would be receiving an AEF grant for completion of his new 11,000-square-foot USDA-inspected meat processing facility near Carthage.

“We only had 14 federally inspected processors in the state when I started this facility, and since then two of them have closed,” said Steve, a member of both Smith and Wilson Farmers Cooperatives. “There’s only so much 12 processors can do. When competitors are begging you to hurry up and complete your project, you know you’re in an industry that’s going to be very positive for you and the people you’re serving.

“This grant will really help us offset some costs and look better on our balance sheet. We want to have enough space to where we can hang our customers’ meat long enough for it to dry age. As it dry ages, the more flavorful and tender it becomes.”

April Patterson of G.F. Hardwoods said her company was “extremely blessed” to be an AEF recipient for 2018. G.F. is located on the same property as sister companies Moss Sawmills and Honest Abe Log Homes.

 “Forestry is an incredibly important part of our state and local economies,” said April, whose father, the late Doug Smith, founded G.F. Hardwoods in 1979. “We are thrilled and humbled to see state support for agricultural activities and businesses like ours.”

For more information, visit or contact Laura Vaught at or 615-927-6290.

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