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Task force to aid rural economic development

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A state task force will set priorities for rural economic development.

The group will consist of forestry, regulatory and marketing officials within the Tennessee Department of Agriculture who will work with state and local economic development officials and others.

State Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said Wednesday in announcing the task force that a goal will be increasing jobs in rural areas and building demand for farm and forest products.

According to state officials, agriculture and forestry contribute more than $78 billion annually to the Tennessee economy. There are 78,000 farms, and Tennessee is a leading hardwood state with timber sales totaling about $300 million annually.

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