Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) announced Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business (CAFB) Fund awards to farm and forestry businesses. TDA established the CAFB Fund with CARES Act resources to help ensure stability of the food supply chain and agribusiness economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just like all sectors of our economy, the agribusiness economy was hit hard by the pandemic,” Governor Lee said. “The CAFB Fund assistance for ag-related businesses will go a long way to aid in moving the economy forward. It will provide immediate aid to those who work in Tennessee’s number one industry of ag and forestry, and the funds will have a wide-reaching and long-lasting effect across the state. It’s a boost to our overall recovery.”
CAFB Fund provides financial assistance to agricultural, food, forestry, and nonprofit agricultural entities in Tennessee. Recipients were awarded based on four categories relative to COVID-19 impact and response: business disruption, pandemic response, supply chain enhancement, and increased meat processing capacity. Applicants who had not received COVID-19 relief funding from other available programs were given priority.
“There was a tremendous response to the agricultural and forestry business relief opportunity,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “We appreciate the support from Governor Lee and our state leaders who designated the financial relief program and who continue working to preserve these businesses. We made an effort to spread these dollars statewide, and 60 percent of fund recipients were small businesses with an annual revenue of less than $1 million per year. Our TDA Business Development team worked in conjunction with accounting and business advisory firm Horne Group to allocate the money fairly and equitably.”
TDA reports that more than 1,000 applications with more than $335 million in requests were received. CAFB Fund relief will fund approximately 80 percent of applications. Approximately 40 percent of the funds were awarded to resolve supply chain issues and 60 percent to cover COVID-19 losses and expenses. Priority areas of the relief funding were meat processors, forestry businesses, milk processors, and agricultural fairs. TDA will continue working with the Horne Group on management of funds that will be distributed on a reimbursement basis.