The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]-
Tennessee has allocated $55 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for agriculture and forestry businesses in the state, Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability group announced.
The funds were provided to businesses in the form of grants through a newly established Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business (CAFB) Fund to help stabilize the food supply chain and agribusiness economy.
“We made an effort to spread these dollars statewide fairly and equitably, and 60 percent of fund recipients were small businesses with an annual revenue of less than $1 million per year,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher said. “Our [Tennessee Department of Agriculture] Business Development team worked in conjunction with the Department of Finance and Administration to allocate the money fairly and equitably.”
The Department of Agriculture received more than 1,000 applications for assistance, requesting more than $335 million. The CAFB relief will fund about 80 percent of the applications.
The state prioritized applicants who had not received COVID-19 funding from other programs. The department prioritized meat and milk processors, forestry businesses and agriculture fairs. Grants were prioritized based on business disruption, pandemic response, supply chain enhancement and increased meat processing capacity.
“The coronavirus has touched every sector of our economy,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said. “Among the hardest hit was our agriculture community. The pandemic fundamentally altered the supply chain our farmers relied on to make their living.”