Tennessee farmers looking to improve hay quality and to better manage forage resources have until Oct. 1 to apply for cost-share assistance toward construction of a new hay storage structure or additions to existing structures. The new opportunity is the result of a major boost in state dollars for the popular Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP). As of July 2, cattle and hay producers are eligible to apply for up to $3,500 in cost-share assistance for improving hay storage.

Building sites must be well-drained and meet minimum specifications as recommended by the University of Tennessee Extension Service. "The quality of hay production and storage has a direct impact on the quality and health of cattle, not to mention how it helps farmers prepare for and survive drought and other weather extremes," says Ken Givens, Tennessee ag commissioner. "If we can help farmers improve forage nutrition and handling, then we can make a real difference on their bottom lines through better cattle management and marketability."

Only hay storage projects that are approved in advance by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture will be eligible for cost-share assistance, and farmers will be limited to one application per fiscal year. Once a project is approved, farmers will have until May 1, 2008, to complete approved activities and reimbursement requirements. Applications for hay storage cost-share are on the department's Web site and at most local farm service centers and farm suppliers. Only applications postmarked July 2 or after will be accepted, and farmers have until Oct. 1 to apply. For more information, call 615-837-5323, email Hay.Storage@state.tn.us or visit www.picktnproducts.org.