AEF Frequently Asked Questions

There is a wide array of projects that could potentially satisfy Agricultural Enterprise Fund requirements. The following are examples of projects that would fit the parameters of the AEF. The list is not exhaustive nor does it indicate that a particular project is guaranteed funding.

  • Grain elevator or a food or beverage processing facility that purchases from Tennessee farmers
  • Meat processing facility that will allow Tennessee farmers to sell value-added products to consumers
  • Growth capital to manufacture or market a new agricultural innovation
  • Sawmills and other forestry products businesses who are expanding

AEF grant money can be used for equipment purchases, infrastructure development, or programs or events that support the goals of the AEF. AEF grant money cannot be used for employee salaries or land purchases. After an AEF grant is awarded, recipients enter into a grant contract. Approved items purchased during that contract period are reimbursed.

Due to limited funding, projects usually will not receive more than $50,000 in AEF support. Applicants will not be awarded more than 25% of their project budget.

Businesses may apply for AEF funding over multiple rounds, but will not be eligible for AEF funding if they receive a total of $200,000 from the program. The Commissioner of Agriculture may decide to fund a proposal at a different amount than what is requested.

The AEF Committee reviews applications throughout the year on a quarterly basis. The next deadline for award consideration will be July 15, 2022.

A map of all counties with their economic status is available by clicking here.

More information about writing a business plan can be found in the Tennessee Smart Start GuideAgPlan is another resource that can help with drafting a business plan for an agribusiness.

The proof of financing should come from a financial institution. It should state that you are able to complete the project as proposed in your application, using credit or capital. A letter of good standing from your bank is acceptable.

AEF is a reimbursement grant. Successful applicants will be reimbursed for approved expenses that they incur after the grant is made. Reimbursements cannot be made for expenses incurred before the grant is approved a grant contract is signed.

You will sign a grant contract and submit a request for reimbursement once you've spent your awarded amount of eligible purchases. You will be reimbursed for expenses that you incur during that contract period, which lasts 18 months. You will also be asked to submit a follow-up report once finished with the project.

For more information, please email Will Freeman at agriculture.enterprisefund@tn.gov or (615) 289-7955.