Ag News

Statement by Tennessee Farm Bureau President Jeff Aiken Regarding Governor Haslam’s State of the State Announcement on Investments in Rural Tennessee

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“The Tennessee Farm Bureau is pleased that in his State of the State address, Gov. Bill Haslam continued to show support for Tennessee's farm and rural communities. His administration announced plans to propose a major rural economic development initiative, called the Rural Economic Opportunity Act (REO).

We are thrilled Gov. Haslam is focusing on rural Tennessee communities, which are the lifeblood of our state. Under the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Gerald McCormick, communities can apply for economic incentives by proving their intent and capacity to grow jobs in those areas. The initiative will be paid for through the Propelling Rural Economic Progress (PREP) fund allocated annually by the legislature.

The governor also unveiled his plans to further the mission of the Drive to 55 education campaign by restructuring higher education governance among other efforts. The proposal is one of many his administration has made in attempt to improve Tennessee’s education system.”

The entire state of the state speech can be found at

Young Farmers Take Home National Honors

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During the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Orlando, Florida, the Tennessee Young Farmers & Ranchers took home honors in each of the three contests held at the national level - the Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Jay Head of Montgomery County was named runner-up in the Achievement contest. He receives a Case IH Farmall 65A tractor and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise.  Head farms 5,300 acres near Clarksville in an owner/partnership operation. His major crops are corn, soybeans, wheat, tobacco, hay and indigo. Head also raises more than 200 Angus-cross cows and recently began selling beef on a retail basis. The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.

Hunter Grills of Dyer County was named a runner-up in the Discussion Meet and receives a Case IH Farmall 55A tractor and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise.  Grills made it all the way to the final four after three rounds of competition and was announced as a runner-up on stage. The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Jimmy and Lydia McAlister from Greene County were named to the top ten in the Excellence in Agriculture competition. The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Delegates returned home Wednesday following the annual meeting of the voting delegates, who discuss and set policy for the national farm organization. A total of 355 voting delegates, of which Tennessee Farm Bureau had 34, representing every crop and livestock sector in the United States deliberated on policies affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ productivity and profitability. The policies approved at the convention will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization throughout 2015.


Washington County Farmer Aiken Elected 8th President of Nation’s Largest State Farm Bureau

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During their 94th annual convention held in Franklin, the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s delegates, representing agriculture and farmers across the state, not only debated policy proposals and passed resolutions to work on passage of legislation in 2016 at the state and federal levels, they also elected their 8th president of the nation’s largest state Farm Bureau organization.

Washington county farmer Jeff Aiken, 52, was elected today by the voting delegate body to serve as the organization’s president, representing more than 644,000 family members in Tennessee. Aiken has served as vice-president since 2012, and a director-at-large on the state board of directors since 1998 when he was elected to that office by the Farm Bureau’s county leadership statewide.  He has headed up numerous committees at the state level, as well as being his county’s president for many years.  He has held the office of state YF&R chairman and was the 1992 Tennessee Young Farmer of the Year.
 Aiken and his wife Carol farm 900 acres near Telford in upper East Tennessee where he produces corn, hay, straw, 100 acres of tobacco and more than 600 head of beef cattle.
Elected as the new vice president was Humphreys County farmer Eric Mayberry. Mayberry, 50, and his wife Lynn farm 1000 acres of row crops and a nearly 300 head commercial cow/calf operation near Hurricane Mills. Mayberry was first elected to the state board of directors representing District II in 2005. He has also served on his county’s board of directors since 1988, including five years as president.
Also newly elected to the state board were Lincoln County’s Josh Ogle, representing District II; Smith County’s Mike Scudder, representing District IV; and Robert Elliott of Robertson County was selected as the new state Young Farmer and Rancher chairman.
Others re-elected to the board of directors by the voting delegates were: Charles Hancock from Bumpus Mills, Mrs. Catherine Via from Alamo, David Richesin from Lenoir City, Malcolm Burchfiel from Newbern, James Haskew from South Pittsburg, David Mitchell from Blaine and Mrs. Jane May, State Women’s chairman from Newbern.

2015 TN Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

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The 2015 Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Meeting will be held December 7-8 in Franklin, Tennessee. We hope you will join us for two days packed full of information, entertainment, awards and much more! County Farm Bureau leaders from across the state gather in Franklin to network, learn new trends and technologies in agriculture and learn which counties are leading the way in policy, leadership, communications, membership and service.

Follow Tennessee Farm Bureau on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and results while the convention is going on, or follow the hashtag #tnfbcon15

2015 TFBF Convention Agenda

Tennessee's Agriculture Literacy Week November 15-21

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Agriculture continues to rank as one of Tennessee’s most productive industries. Tennessee’s agriculture and forest products account for approximately 21 percent of the state’s economy and generate more than $71 billion in total economic activity.

Less than 2% of our nation’s population are involved in raising our country’s food and fiber. One American farmer now raises enough food and fiber for 155 people. With an increasingly urban population and with fewer people raised on farms and ranches, the majority of today’s consumers do not know how their food is raised and processed.

“It is up to those involved in agriculture to share the story of how we are raising the animals and crops that feed and clothe our country”, states Lou Nave, executive director of the Farm Animal Care Coalition of Tennessee. 

Tennessee farmers and ranchers are encouraged to share their stories and agriculture knowledge with school students during Tennessee Agriculture Literacy Week, November 15 -21, 2015.

“Tennessee Agriculture Literacy Week is a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to visit local schools, read accurate agriculture books and interact with students and teachers,” continued Nave. 

Tennessee Agriculture Literacy Week will allow everyone involved in agriculture to focus attention toward our vibrant industry through literacy promotions in local school systems.  Farmers, ranchers FFA and 4-H members, and others involved in agriculture are encouraged to contact local school systems and schedule a visit to read agriculturally themed books to school students.  

Many segments of Tennessee’s agriculture industry have strong literacy outreach programs.  Tennessee Agriculture Literacy Week should enhance and support those efforts while providing guidance and opportunities for new and innovative agriculture literacy programs.  

A Tennessee Agriculture Literacy Week guide including appropriate books, useful support material and useful steps for success has been created.  These resources are available at

To capitalize on this concerted effort, Tennessee Agriculture Literacy Week activities should be completed by November 25, 2015.  Volunteers should complete a basic feedback form after each school visit (available at

If you have any questions, please contact Lou Nave at Farm Animal Care Tennessee’s Coalition of Tennessee: (615) 970-8065.

Tennessee FFA's Nick Baker elected National FFA Secretary

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Students from Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Iowa, Georgia and Utah have been elected by delegates from throughout the United States to serve on the 2015-16 National FFA Officer team:

Taylor McNeel of Arkansas, an agricultural business major at Southern Arkansas University, was elected president.
Nick Baker of Tennessee, an agricultural communications major at the University of Tennessee, will serve as secretary.
Sydney Snider of Ohio, an agricultural communications major at The Ohio State University, was elected eastern region vice president.
Abrah Meyer of Iowa, an agricultural business major at Iowa State University, will serve as central region vice president.
Abbey Gretsch of Georgia, an agricultural communications major at the University of Georgia, was elected southern region vice president.
Sarah Draper of Utah, an agricultural education major at Utah State University, will serve as western region vice president.

The new team was elected Saturday, Oct. 31, at Freedom Hall during the 88th National FFA Convention & Expo.

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as National FFA officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country.

National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public and more.The team will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 629,367 student members who belong to one of 7,757 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

UT Institute of Agriculture Announces “All Vol Cheese” for Sale by UT Students

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Some future food scientists are saying “cheese” these days, and it has nothing to do with having their photo taken.

The University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is introducing a product line called “All Vol Cheese” that will soon be available for purchase. Four flavors are offered -- Checkerboard Mild Cheddar, Game Day Sharp Cheddar, Smokey’s Smoked Gouda and Torchbearer Jalapeno.

“All Vol Cheese” debuted at Ag Day on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus. The cheese is available for purchase through the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST), and during fundraisers by UT student clubs. You will also be able to purchase online at

A gift box will be introduced in November for holiday sales. The cheese is packaged in 10-ounce bars, and gift boxes will accommodate between two and four bars of cheese. All proceeds benefit student programs at the UT Institute of Agriculture.

UTIA is partnering with Sweetwater Valley Farm in developing “All Vol Cheese.” The product is made at the company’s site in Loudon County, where a number of FST students held internships this past year.

“Sweetwater Valley Farm has been a trusted partner for several years,” says Mark Morgan, head of UT’s Food Science and Technology Department. “They helped our students learn about cheese-making from start to finish, all the way from raising the cows, to turning milk into cheese, and how it is packaged and sold to the market. Throughout the process, the students also learn about manufacturing and regulatory issues – preparing them for future employment in the industry.”

“Our cheese line is a joint effort between FST and a new public-private entrepreneurial program we’ve established called “Aginnovations,” says Bill Brown, dean of UT AgResearch. “Our goal is to help faculty, researchers and students turn their ideas into new businesses, whether internal or external to the university.” 

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. 


Contact: Chuck Denney, UTIA Marketing & Communications, 865-382-8058 (mobile),

Tennessee Has Great Pumpkins, No Matter How You Stack Them

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Tennesseans can expect plentiful pumpkins, gourds and winter squash this year.

Round, bright orange Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins are still popular for Halloween carving, but increasing numbers of colorful heirloom pumpkins, which are also edible, may be stealing the show.

Traditional cooking pumpkin varieties like the blue Australian or Jarrahdale pumpkin, the neon orange Cinderella pumpkin and the pinkish Long Island cheese pumpkin tend to be relatively flat. Their bold, unusual colors also make them trendy favorites for stacking on doorsteps in autumn tableaus, making them a smart choice no matter how they’re displayed. 

Tennessee pumpkin growers weathered a challenging growing season with cool, wet conditions, but ended with ideal harvest conditions for the 2015 crop. About 2,000 acres across the state are dedicated to pumpkins, colorful gourds and other hard squash. Loads of colorful orbs have been making their ways to area farmers markets, garden centers and retail outlets since the first week of September.

A popular way to celebrate the season’s pumpkins and other gorgeous décor is to make pumpkin picking an autumn adventure at local fun farms and orchards that also offer corn mazes, wagon rides, farm animal petting zoos and creative, farm-themed playgrounds. 

The free Pick Tennessee Mobile App from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture allows users to find local farms and farmers markets, then map the way from the user’s location. Find pumpkin patches and all sorts of autumn decor, including gourds, squash, Indian corn, straw bales and chrysanthemums for doorsteps, pies and table arrangements with the Pick Tennessee Website and mobile app.

Cooperatives provide billion-dollar boost to state’s economy

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October is Cooperative Month in Tennessee, and a proclamation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam deeming it as such heaps high praise on the approximately 200 member-owned organizations that employ more than 6,000 individuals, impact our state’s economy by more than $1 billion, and provide a wide array of products and services to member-owners.

“We appreciate Governor Haslam for his support of Tennessee cooperatives,” Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson said. “A cooperative system is a powerful example of what can be accomplished when citizens in rural areas come together. Ultimately, the participants aren’t the only ones who benefit. Everyone in Tennessee reaps the rewards with increased access to quality goods and services.”

Today, more than 75 percent of Tennessee’s rural residents are served by a cooperative.

The resolution reads, in part: “Tennessee cooperatives improve the well-being of rural residents and communities across our state by providing electric, internet, and telephone services to homes, farms, and rural businesses; financing for land, assets, and inputs; products and services, including genetics and seed, nutrients and feed, crop protection and health; equipment and fuel for growing and marketing crops and livestock; and insurance for individuals and family businesses, resulting in employment for thousands of Tennesseans.”

The proclamation also emphasizes the important partnership with today’s farmers “as they work diligently to produce safe, abundant, dependable, and affordable food and fiber for both a rapidly growing world population and an increasingly interconnected proactively health-conscious local consumer.”

The governor’s proclamation highlights the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC), calling it “the state’s flagship organization for coordinating, promoting, educating, and extending cooperative development in Tennessee.”

TCC’s current president, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Marketing Manager Keith Harrison, said, “Co-ops are a true democracy where membership is voluntary and members have democratic control with each having one vote. They operate not for profit, but for the benefit of their members. Unlike other businesses, they don’t exist to make money for their investors but rather to meet the needs of their members as economically as possible. The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives believes the cooperative business model will continue to play a vital role in strengthening our state’s rural economy because it mirrors the very best of the American way.”

Nationwide, more than 20,000 cooperatives will celebrate October Co-op Month, promoting the advantages of cooperative membership and recognizing the benefits and value co-ops bring to their communities. The observance has been held since 1930.

Visit for more information about Tennessee cooperatives or the TCC and its programs. Visit for more information about the national Co-op Month celebration. 

National Farm Safety and Health Week

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The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) at Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) Peosta campus will be sponsoring webinars in observance of National Farm Safety & Health Week, September 20 26.

The 2015 theme for National Farm Safety & Health Week is Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle.The webinars scheduled for each day of the week will be available at, as well as more information and public service announcements related to this year’s theme.

This year the NECAS webinars, offered each day at noon, will cover the following themes: Monday - Rural Roadway
Confined Spaces in Agriculture
Wednesday -
Children’s Topics

Thursday - Health Friday - Tractor Safety

NECAS also invites everyone to join them for 'AgChat' on Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 7-9 p.m. (CST)

The theme “Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle” reminds local and rural communities that agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S. and farm injuries and fatalities are


preventable through education. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that in 2013 farming accounted for 500 fatalities, or 23.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Each year since 1944, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week. This recognition has been an annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council and has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first document. Over the years, the development and dissemination of National Farm Safety & Health Week materials shifted from the National Safety Council to NECAS. NECAS is the agricultural partner for the National Safety Council and has been serving the agricultural family and business community since 1997.

As we recognize National Farm Safety & Health Week this September, please join us in promoting safe and healthy practices on our farms and ranches across the U.S. and in our neighboring countries as producers enter the harvest season. NECAS welcomes the collaboration and participation of community members in this year’s observance, and would like to thank the Illinois Farm Bureau for its work in developing the “Ag safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle” logo this year.

For more information, contact: Gloria Reiter, NECAS administrative assistant, at (888) 844-6322, ext. 371, or; or Dan Neenan, NECAS director, at (888) 844-6322, ext. 248, or