The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) added hay feeding equipment to a list of cattle equipment eligible for cost-share funding. TDA is reminding dairy and beef producers that the deadline for applying for cattle improvement cost-share funding through the Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program is Dec. 1.

"Considering the drastic blow to Tennessee's hay crop this year, we have added hay cone feeders, as well as creep or self feeders, to the list of eligible equipment to help our farmers stretch out their hay supplies," says Ken Givens, the state's ag commissioner.

The Cattle Improvement Initiative also provides cost-share dollars for improvements made in cattle genetics and handling equipment. Since Aug. 1, approximately 3,800 farmers have been approved for more than $9.8 million in cost-share funding for cattle management projects. Producers who have already been approved must seek reimbursement for equipment purchases by Dec. 31, and are encouraged to order equipment now due to a supply backlog of some popular items. Applications must be approved before qualifying purchases and lease agreements will be accepted.

To be eligible for funds under the initiative, producers must register their livestock farms, or premises, with TDA. Premises registration forms and instructions are available at www.tennessee.gov/agriculture/tpis or by calling 615-837-5189.

Producers must also be certified under the Beef Quality Assurance Program (BQA), a two-hour educational course on cattle management and care sponsored by the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association. For more information, contact the association at 615-896-2333 or info@tncattle.org, or visit www.tncattle.org.

Applications and additional information about cost-share opportunities through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, including a list of eligible cattle handling equipment, can be found at www.picktnproducts.org. For more about the initiative, contact program coordinator Wendy Lofton at 615-837-5309 or Cattle.Improvement@state.tn.us.

Read more about the program at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Web site at www.state.tn.us/agriculture/news/2007/11052007.html.