Ag News

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


Southeastern Stores Gear Up for Great American Milk Drive

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Thanks to partnerships to increase food bank donations of fluid milk across the Southeast, four milk donation programs will be taking place across the Southeast this September in conjunction with Hunger Action Month and the Great American Milk Drive (GAMD). 

Feeding America® is the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the country, and hopes to increase awareness about one of their most requested items in food banks nationwide – milk. While many Americans are generous with nonperishable items, such as canned goods and dry ingredients, milk is much harder to donate because it is perishable.

In order to bring support to the more than 49 million Americans who struggle with food insecurity, Feeding America® started a nationwide campaign each September dubbing it as Hunger Action Month. On average, food banks are only able to provide the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person each year – a trend that Feeding America® hopes to change.

In honor of Hunger Action Month, four large chain retailers, Rouses, Kroger, Ingles and Circle K, will be participating in various donation programs to provide fluid milk to food banks across the Southeast. These promotions to increase fluid milk sales would not be taking place without the partnerships between Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA), milk processors and milk retailers.

Kroger’s Pour It Forward program will launch nationwide with all 3,430 stores participating and promoting the campaign through store banners, in-store table tents, cooler clings at the dairy case and posts on social media. Customers will choose a $1, $3 or $5 voucher off of tear pads at check-out. In 2014, Kroger customers donated more than 100,000 gallons of milk to families in need in communities across the country.

“We know our customers care deeply about the issue of hunger in their local communities and are willing to donate dry goods, but it’s difficult to provide fresh, perishable items like milk,” said Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s Group Vice President of corporate affairs. “We are honored to partner with Feeding America for the second year in a row. The ‘Pour It Forward’ program makes it so simple to give hope by the gallon and provide milk to families in need across the country.”

Ingles’ “Stand Up to Hunger with Milk” campaign launched at 202 locations in mid-August. Customers can donate two ways, by either selecting a $1 donation card at checkout or via peel-away labels on Laura Lynn fluid milk gallons. All donations will be converted into coupons for milk and distributed to the local Feeding America food banks in their respective communities. Ingles will also be hosting Hunger Action Month kickoff events at stores in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina throughout the month, with one large kickoff event in each state:

  • Asheville, N.C.: Wednesday, September 9 from 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m. at the Ingles store located at 669 Haywood, Road, Asheville, N.C. 28806.
  • Atlanta, Ga.: Tuesday, September 15 from 12:00p.m. to 2:00p.m. at the Ingles store located at 5075 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross, Ga. 30092.
  • Greenville, S.C.: Tuesday, September 22 from 10:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. at the Ingles store located at 2795 E. Main Street, Spartanburg, S.C. 29307.
  • Knoxville, Tenn.: Monday, September 14 from 4:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. at the Ingles store located at 11847 Kingston Pike, Farragut, Tenn. 37934.


All 45 Rouses locations in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi will be participating in the GAMD this September in partnership with Feeding America. Dairy cooler clings, store signage and social media posts will encourage customers to donate $1, $3 and $5 during checkout.

Circle K’s across the Southeast will become the first convenience stores to participate in the Great American Milk Drive with their Milk for Kids program. Gas pump toppers, front door signs and credit card pin-pad signs will be displayed at 336 Kangaroo Express stores and 248 Circle K stores in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. 

Shoppers will be able to donate $1, $3 or $5 to Milk for Kids during checkout via donation cards placed at the register. All donations will be turned into vouchers for free milk that will be sent to local food banks after the program ends.

“We are excited to have Circle K partner with us here in the Southeast,” said SUDIA general manager Cheryl Hayn. “We know that Millennials are spending more and doing more shopping at convenience stores, and we are excited to try this new avenue for milk donations.”

Since launching last fall, more than 404,000 gallons of milk have been donated to the GAMD nationwide.  Milk is a nutrient power-house, packing in eight ounces of protein and nine essential nutrients in each glass.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Hunger Action Month and the Great American Milk Drive, visit


About the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association On behalf of dairy farm families, the non-profit Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA), works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy processors and the public to promote dairy foods.  For more information, visit

For more information please contact director of marketing and partner relations Mark Farmer via phone at (770) 994-5828 or by email at

Montgomery County’s Jay Head wins state young farmer honors

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Montgomery County young farmer Jay Head was named Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farmer and Achievement Award winner during the Tennessee Young Farmer Summer Conference held at the headquarter offices of the Tennessee Farm Bureau in Columbia, Tenn. The young row crop and cattle farmer from the Cedar Hill community competed against 17 other county contestants across the state to be named the state winner and have the opportunity to compete for national honors in January.
Jay was named this year’s winner based upon farm and financial records from the farm year 2014. He farms approximately 5,300 acres near Clarksville in Montgomery County 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.
Head has been very active in the Young Farmer and Rancher program, as well as the Montgomery County Farm Bureau and his local community. He has served as vice-chair of the Tennessee YF&R State Committee and currently serves on both the legislative and executive committee of his local Farm Bureau county board. He has hosted county school farm tours and been a trainer for teachers in his county for several years and is active in his local church.
As the state winner of the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Ranchers Achievement Award, the rewards are numerous. Head receives a year’s free use of a brand new Case IH tractor up to 150 hours. He also receives $1000 from Tennessee Farm Bureau, a fully-loaded Polaris Ranger UTV from Tennessee Farm Bureau, an insurance policy to cover the tractor for one year from Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee, $500 in qualified Farm Bureau Services, $500 in services from Farmers Services and a trip to the American Farm Bureau Convention in Orlando, Florida in January 2016, where he will compete for national honors with other state winners. The national winner will get their choice of a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado or 2016 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM and paid registration to the 2016 YF&R Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Three national runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH, a $2,500 cash prize and $500 in merchandise courtesy of STIHL.
Jamie and Ashley Weaver of Coffee County were named runners-up in this year's competition. District winners were: District One - Rusty and Christy Grills of Dyer County; District Two - Bradley Richardson of Maury County; District Three - Kary Robinson of Franklin County; District Four - Joe and Becky Smith of Overton County and District Five - Dustin and Chrissa Pearson of Washington County. 

American Farm Bureau President Stallman Announces Departure in January

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American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman announced today that he will not seek reelection in January 2016 following 16 years at the helm of the nation’s largest, most influential general farm organization. Stallman, a cattle and rice producer from Columbus, Texas, is the 11th president during AFBF’s almost 97-year history.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the nation’s Farm Bureau members and represent agriculture and rural America,” Stallman said. “After 16 years as AFBF president, six as Texas Farm Bureau president and several more in other Farm Bureau roles, it is time to hand over the reins of leadership—a decision that is made easier by knowing the great leadership and foundation that exist to continue moving Farm Bureau forward. I am as optimistic as ever about the future of American agriculture and Farm Bureau.

“On the wall of the AFBF office is a quote by President Thomas Jefferson: ‘Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.’ I couldn’t agree more, and I would add that a most rewarding pursuit is working for the men and women who make up American agriculture. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to do so.”

AFBF has thrived under Stallman’s presidency. Farm Bureau membership nationwide has grown by more than 1 million member families. Programming has grown to include more efforts to build rural communities and economies and more leadership development programs to help farmers and ranchers become advocates for agriculture and citizen leaders in their communities. AFBF has grown organizationally, particularly with the acquisition of the IDEAg farm events and publications business in 2013. And AFBF has grown in its effectiveness as an advocate in the courts for farmers’ and ranchers’ freedom to operate, and it remains the most visible, influential voice in the nation’s capital for farmers and ranchers of all types, sizes and regions.

“While the presidential gavel will change hands, what defines Farm Bureau will remain the same: our grassroots strength and our commitment to strengthening America’s agricultural and rural communities,” Stallman added.

In addition to his Farm Bureau roles, Stallman has served on numerous boards and federal and state committees, including the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, the Farm Foundation board of trustees, the board and founding leadership of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the board of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology and the House Agriculture Committee’s Commission on 21st Century Production Agriculture.

A new AFBF president will be elected to a two-year term at the 97th annual meeting of voting delegates, Jan. 12, 2016, as part of the AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Tradeshow, Jan. 10-13, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.