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In an effort to enhance the state’s agricultural industry and to increase farmers’ capacity to produce, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is encouraging producers to take advantage of new continuing education opportunities now offered by the University of Tennessee Extension.
“Agricultural leaders recently unveiled a strategic plan to grow and develop our industry over the next decade,” Agriculture Commission Julius Johnson said. “Education and research were recognized as key components for helping us achieve our goals, and these continuing education opportunities will be important for producers to maximize efficiency in their operations and to increase farm profitability.”
Beginning in 2015, producers who wish to qualify for 50 percent cost share funding through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program may need to participate in UT advanced continuing education opportunities by certain TAEP reimbursement deadlines. This gives producers nearly two years to complete the new continuing education opportunities. For the 2014 application period, any Master producer certificates received prior to 2015 will still qualify for 50 percent cost share.
A schedule detailing current certification expiration dates and renewal deadlines, by program, is available at www.tn.gov/taep under master Certification Information in the TAEP News section. Class offerings for 2014 were recently announced by UT Extension and are posted at utextension.tennessee.edu.
All current Tennessee Quality Milk certificates will expire May 1, 2015 so all dairy producers wishing to qualify for TAEP funds in 2015 will need to become certified as a Master Dairy Producer before Dec. 1, 2015.
Once all current certificates expire, producers will need to participate in continuing education programs every three years with the exception of dairy, which is an annual certification based on fewer class hours each year.
Applications for 2014 TAEP cost share programs are expected to be available in April.
TAEP was established in 2005 by the Tennessee General Assembly and has been fully funded by Gov. Bill Haslam through a portion of the state’s cigarette sales tax. The program is administered by TDA to assist qualifying producers with cost share funds of up to 50 percent on farm improvement projects to increase efficiency and farm income. A UT study shows that for every TAEP dollar invested nearly $4 is generated in additional economic activity in local communities.
For more information, visit www.tn.gov/taep or call the TAEP general information line at 1-800-342-8206.