Tennessee cattle and hay producers have until Oct. 1 to apply for cost-share help through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program's Hay Storage Facility Cost Share Program. An eligible farmer can receive up to $3,500 toward the cost of building a new hay storage structure or an addition to an existing structure. Since July 2, more than 1,140 farmers have been approved for $3.7 million in assistance. "The response has been overwhelming, which really shows that, despite the disastrous growing season, Tennessee farmers are optimistic about the future and understand the importance of protecting their forage resources," says Ken Givens, state ag commissioner. "The program is working to help farmers weather harsh conditions in the future, and funding is still available for anyone who wants to build now or in time for the spring hay crop."

According to University of Tennessee extension forage experts, at least 30% of hay stored outside unprotected can be lost in the first year, and it can continue to lose value over time. To get hay storage cost-share help, a farmer must be a Tennessee resident operating a farm or agribusiness in the state with at least 10 head of cattle or 50 acres of hay production. Producers with livestock must also register their premises with the National Animal Identification System. Each application must include a project budget with cost quotes.

Only hay storage projects that are approved in advance by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture will be eligible, and a producer is limited to one application per fiscal year. Farmers with approved applications will have until May 1, 2008, to complete approved activities and reimbursement requirements.

For an application, visit www.picktnproducts.org. For more information about the program, call 615-837-5323 or email Hay.Storage@state.tn.us.

Source: Tennessee Department of Agriculture.