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UC Businesses Among First Recipients of TN Cost Share Program

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UC Businesses Among First Recipients of TN Cost Share Program

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has announce the first round of Forestry, Agriculture, and Rural Markets (FARM) cost share recipients. Out of 259 applicants 20 awards were made.

Larry Masters, Founder of Underground Slaughter in White County was among those recipients. Masters said the funds would be used for phase I of expansion including adding 9,000 sqaure feet, improving processes, and adding services.

“When I tell people I’ve had to move mountains to get this facility built, I literally had to move a mountain,” Masters said. “When I bought the facility the mountain was about 10 feet behind the facility. There was like no space.”

Masters said he originally paid a company to excavate into the mountain. He said in 2021 he bought his own excavating equipment to continue all the work they had left to do.

Masters said after Phase I is complete they will hire additional employees and provide a training program including processes for the new ready to eat products. He said ready to eat (RTE) items may include include cooked sliced deli meat.

“The farmers distribute that,” Masters said. “They have their own markets. A lot of our customers have an online presence and they’re able to supply their customers. Some of them go to farmers markets.”

Masters said fully cooked RTE products require a clean room and other levels of testing in compliance with USDA regulations.

Masters said he missed an opportunity for a federal grant in 2022. He said he was discouraged when he missed out on that offering and that drove him to step up his application when the FARM cost share opportunity opened.

“This grant is going to help us strengthen the food chain in Tennessee, ” Masters said. “It’s not only going to help the farmers and help people get food, it’s going to help the local economy too.”

Additional Upper Cumberland recipients of the FARM cost share include Logger Joseph Burks of Clay County and Hale and Hines Nursery of Warren County. There were 259 applicants and 20 recipients in this first round.


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