Press Releases

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.

County Farm Bureaus Honored with Pinnacle Partnership Award

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During the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th annual convention at Franklin’s Cool Springs Marriott, ten county Farm Bureaus were recognized for reaching the highest standards possible in membership, programs and teamwork. Those counties are Bedford, Coffee, Giles, Grundy, Maury, Montgomery, Obion, Overton, Rutherford and Weakley County.

“The Pinnacle Partnership Award is the highest recognition a county Farm Bureau may receive. It encompasses the highest standards and is evidenced by the cooperation between volunteer leaders, agents and staff,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch.

Each of the ten county Farm Bureaus was recognized onstage with the Pinnacle Partnership Award for their exemplary records over the past year. They received a plaque with the bronze Pinnacle Partnership medallion.

Each of these counties are to be commended for their hard work and well-earned success over the past year,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch. “We congratulate them for their high standards and ability to work together to achieve goals.”

Tennessee Farm Bureau is the largest Farm Bureau in the nation with a membership more than 600,000, and is a farm organization whose goal is to develop, foster, promote and protect programs for the general welfare, including economic, social, educational and political well-being of farm people of the great state of Tennessee.

For more information, contact Lee Maddox, Tennessee Farm Bureau Director of Communications – lmaddox@tfbf.com – 931-388-7872 

County Farm Bureaus Honored with President’s Awards

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 During the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th annual convention at Franklin’s Cool Springs Marriott, twenty-seven county Farm Bureaus were recognized for accomplishments and successes from the past year.

“The President’s Awards program is a blueprint for a successful county Farm Bureau and it is appropriate we recognize each of our county presidents for their leadership in making their respective county Farm Bureaus a success,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch.

Twenty-seven county Farm Bureaus were recognized onstage with President’s Awards for their exemplary program and service activities in four areas: Public Relations, Leadership, Policy and Service.

Bedford County received awards for Public Relations and Policy; Benton County for Public Relations; Blount County for Public Relations; Bradley County for Service; Cannon County for Public Relations; Carroll County for Public Relations; Clay County for Public Relations; Cocke County for Public Relations; Coffee County for Public Relations, Leadership and Service; Crockett County for Public Relations; Cumberland County for Public Relations; Dickson County for Public Relations; Dyer County for Public Relations and Policy; Giles County for Service; Greene County for Service; Grundy County for Policy; Hardin County for Policy; Lawrence County for Service; Maury County for Service; Montgomery County for Policy; Obion County for Leadership and Policy; Overton County Leadership and Policy; Putnam County for Policy; Robertson County for Leadership and Service; Rutherford County for Leadership and Policy; Sullivan County for Leadership and Policy; and Weakley County for Leadership.

 “These counties are to be commended for their hard work and well-earned success over the past year,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch. “We congratulate each of them for their impressive membership achievements.”

Tennessee Farm Bureau is the largest Farm Bureau in the nation with a membership more than 600,000, and is a farm organization whose goal is to develop, foster, promote and protect programs for the general welfare, including economic, social, educational and political well-being of farm people of the great state of Tennessee.

 

For more information, contact Lee Maddox, Tennessee Farm Bureau Director of Communications – lmaddox@tfbf.com – 931-388-7872 

Award-winning Tennessee Young Farmers Receive Tractors at Legislative Plaza

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Case IH presented three farm families their tractors at the Legislative Plaza for being named runners-up at the American Farm Bureau Convention. The presentation took place in front of the State Capitol on Monday, March 23 in conjunction with Ag Day on the Hill festivities.

The Tennessee Young Farmers & Ranchers took home honors in each of the three contests held at the national level of the American Farm Bureau Convention - the Achievement Award, Excellence in Agriculture and Discussion Meet. 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

Mark and Cindy Klepper of Greene County were named runners-up in the Achievement Contest, which recognizes young farmers who have excelled in their farming 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. The Kleppers farm 1700 acres of corn, soybeans and hay; raise nearly 100 cows and more than 920,000 chickens for Koch Foods. They received a Case IH Farmall 65A tractor.

Michael and Amy Shirley of Rutherford County were named runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture Contest, which recognizes young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income from a farm, but actively contribute and grow through involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. The Shirleys, in addition to their farm, both have off-the-farm jobs – Michael as an Extension agent in the county and Amy as a small-animal veterinarian. They received a Case IH Farmall 45A tractor.

Doug Giles of Williamson County was named runner-up in the Discussion Meet, which 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 topic. Giles made it all the way to the final four after three rounds of competition and was announced as a runner-up on stage. He received a Case IH 55A tractor.

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For more information, please contact Melissa Bratton, editor Tennessee Farm Bureau News. mbratton@tfbf.com

Tennessee Young Farmers Win National Honors

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During the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Tennessee Young Farmers & Ranchers took home honors in the Achievement Award and Excellence in Agriculture competitions. 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.

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award Brandon and Katherine Whitt of Rutherford County receive either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM. The Whitts will also receive paid registration to attend the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia in February.

The Whitts farm over 1900 acres in the surrounding Blackman and Murfreesboro area of Rutherford County in an owner/partnership operation. Their major crops are soybeans, wheat, corn and strawberries. They market over 800 head of hogs a year mostly through retail outlets consisting of 4,000 pounds of meat monthly by on farm retail, restaurants and farmers markets.

Both Brandon and Katherine have been very active in the Young Farmer and Rancher program, as well as the Rutherford County Farm Bureau and community. Brandon has served as the state YF&R committee chairman, a member of the TFBF Board of Directors, American Farm Bureau PAL scholarship participant and held numerous county YF&R leadership positions. Katherine is active on numerous YF&R committees as well as several community organizations. The Whitts have three children with number four due in March.

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.

Chuck Yoest and Jennifer Hatcher of Williamson County, Tennessee were named runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture Award. They will a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

Chuck and Jennifer, along with Jennifer’s family, operate Hatcher Family Dairy, where they have their own creamery and sell seven different types of milk, butter, egg nog, gelato, farm fresh eggs and meat as well as sell those products locally to restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets.  Chuck is employed with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency as Big Game Coordinator and Jennifer is a veterinarian with her father in the family’s Rock N Country veterinarian practice, and they are actively involved in their county YF&R program, their community and church.

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.

Michael Shirley of Rutherford County represented Tennessee in the Discussion Meet at the national level and after two rounds of competition, was selected to compete in the Sweet 16 round.  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.

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For more information contact: Melissa Bratton, Editor, TN Farm Bureau News & Tennessee Home and Farm Magazine (931) 388-7872 ext. 2521, mbratton@tfbf.com

 

Rutherford County’s Brandon and Katherine Whitt win state young farmer honors

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Rutherford County young farm couple Brandon and Katherine Whitt were named Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farmer and Achievement Award winners during special ceremonies at the Tennessee Young Farmer Summer Conference. The young row crop and swine farmers from the Blackman community, bested 16 other county contestants in state competition held at the headquarter offices of the Tennessee Farm Bureau in Columbia, Tenn., to be named the state winners and to also have the opportunity to compete for national honors in January.
 
Brandon and Katherine were named this year’s winners based upon farm and financial records from the farm year 2012. The Whitts farm over 1900 acres in the surrounding Blackman and Murfreesboro area of Rutherford County in an owner/partnership operation. Their major crops are soybeans, wheat, corn and strawberries. They market over 800 head of hogs a year mostly through retail outlets consisting of 4,000 pounds of meat monthly by on farm retail, restaurants and farmers markets.
 
Both Brandon and Katherine have been very active in the Young Farmer and Rancher program, as well as the Rutherford County Farm Bureau and his community. Brandon has served on the Board of Directors of the Rutherford County Farm Bureau since 2004 and was state chairman of the Tennessee YF&R in 2012. Both are very active in their church. The Whitts have three children.
 
The rewards for being named the state winner are many. They receive a year’s free use of a brand new Case/IH tractor up to 150 hours. They also received $500 from Tennessee Farm Bureau, a fully loaded RTV to keep from Tennessee Farm Bureau, an insurance policy to cover the tractor for one year from Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee and a trip to the American Farm Bureau Convention in San Antonio, Texas in January 2014, where he will compete for national honors with other state winners for national awards. The national will get their choice of a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM and paid registration to the 2014 YF&R Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, February 7-10. Three national runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH, and a $2,500 cash prize and $500 in merchandise courtesy of STIHL.

Tennessee Farm Bureau Congratulates Senate on Passage of Farm Bill

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The Tennessee Farm Bureau is glad to congratulate the Senate on the passage last evening of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act (2013 farm bill) after the legislation was agreed upon by a bipartisan vote of 66-27.  According to TFBF President Lacy Upchurch, the Senate version of the farm bill will eliminate direct payments to farmers while strengthening needed risk-management tools and a viable economic as well as natural resource safety net.

“The Senate’s vote last evening puts us closer to having a farm bill available for our farmers come August. We do appreciate the Senate’s decision to protect and strengthen the federal crop insurance program and not reduce its funding,” Upchurch said. “We now look forward to working with our Tennessee congressional delegation as the House moves forward with its farm bill legislation. With hopefully their completion coming in the next few weeks, our farmers can have certainty for planting and planning once again for the coming year.”

It’s reported from day one in the debate, agriculture expressed its willingness to rework the farm bill to help reduce the federal deficit, and the budget savings level of $24 billion in this proposed farm bill is a big step toward that goal.

Official statement from the Tennessee Farm Bureau regarding the veto by the governor of the Livestock Protection Act legislation

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Columbia, TN (May 13, 2012) We respect Governor Haslam’s decision and appreciate his due diligence in considering the various aspects of the Livestock Protection Act (SB1248 Gresham and HB1191 Holt).  Although we are disappointed, we are appreciative of his recognition that well-established, long-accepted agricultural practices on farms are vulnerable to unfair attacks through misrepresentation and deception.  We also appreciate the sponsors and all those members of the General Assembly who believe in and support Tennessee farmers.

For the farm community this bill was all about protecting animals by stopping abuse quickly and ending the exploitation for sensationalism. Our farmers take the responsibility to care for animals very seriously. We will continue to be optimistic that we can care for animals and work to prevent animal cruelty.

Looking forward, our farmers will continue to display the relationship between farmers and their animals that was eloquently captured by Paul Harvey in his 1978 speech to the National FFA Convention. As caretakers, farmers have many times stayed up all night to care for a weak newborn…only to watch it die. “Then the farmer dries his eyes and says, ‘Maybe next year.'…… So God made a farmer.”

To see a copy of Governor Haslam's statement, click here.

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Ag Day on the Hill

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April 2, 2013 was proclaimed “Agriculture Day on the Hill” in Tennessee by Governor Bill Haslam.  To celebrate the occasion, commodity groups and agriculture businesses from across Tennessee gathered in Nashville to help tell agriculture’s story to the legislature and people visiting the Legislative Plaza.

The halls inside the plaza were lined with informative and impressive booths touting agriculture’s top commodities and commodity groups, agricultural colleges and organizations that support the agriculture industry in Tennessee.  And outside on the Legislative Plaza was a sight that had to be seen to be believed.

It’s not very often these days that you see cows, pigs, chickens, mules, sheep and goats munching on hay and feed in the middle of Nashville and especially at the entrance to the state legislature, but that is what passersby saw that Tuesday…and if they happened to walk by around 9:45, they also saw quite a crowd gathered to cheer on the rematch of Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in a milking contest.  After last year’s challenge of milking goats, this year returned to the more traditional dairy cows for the contestants to milk, with Speaker Harwell milking a Brown Swiss named Giggles and Lt. Gov. Ramsey milking a Holstein named Rascal.  It would seem the odds were in Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s favor, having grown up on a dairy farm and around animals all his life, while Speaker Harwell is a self-proclaimed city-girl; but in the end Speaker Harwell emerged the victor for the 2nd year in a row, narrowly pulling out a win over Ramsey.  Pettus Read, president of the Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee, who sponsors and helps put on Ag Day on the Hill in conjunction with the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, presented Speaker Harwell with a trophy pail proclaiming her as a person “with a lot of pull” in Nashville and a $750 donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank in her name.

After those festivities, a standing-room only crowd gathered in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting, which, after dealing with the business for the day, showcased some of agriculture’s finest – including State 4-H Council Secretary Rachael Wolters and State FFA President Sarah Best, who each spoke eloquently on what their respective youth organizations have provided them and the youth of the state; Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson, who shared what a vital industry agriculture is to Tennessee and the impact it makes on the economy; and a very special recognition to Tennessee Farm Bureau’s own Director of Communications Pettus Read – who received a joint resolution signed by both Houses and the Governor honoring him for his many years of dedicated service to agriculture in Tennessee and his outstanding efforts to be the voice for the farmers across the state.

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