When you think of someone being inducted into a Hall of Fame, you first think of sports figures known for major league accomplishments, like Babe Ruth. We all have seen the induction ceremonies on TV of football greats and other stars getting their acclamate. Of course, other careers have their Hall of Fames as well, but they just don’t get the notoriety that the sports figures get from the media and it is a shame that time is not taken to recognize those who have gone way beyond the call of duty in their respected fields.
In the state of Tennessee, there is a Hall of Fame that recognizes individuals who could be called the “Babe Ruth’s of Agriculture.” The Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame was established by an act of the legislature in 1937 for the purpose of recognizing individuals who have rendered distinguished service to the art and science of agriculture. Unlike some of the Hall of Fames you may be more familiar with, to be considered for induction into the state’s Agriculture Hall of Fame, an individual must have been deceased a minimum of five years, although a standard of 10 years has been used by tradition, to show a lasting impact. The number of inductees has been few over the years. Each one has been an outstanding contributor to Tennessee’s agriculture. Some of the past Tennessee inductees are President Andrew Johnson, author of the agricultural survey; Dr. Marion Dorset, developer of the hog cholera serum; D.M. Clements, first vocational agric ulture teacher in the nation; and Mrs. Ethel Bond, advocate for farm families and rural health. The Hall Of Fame is housed in the Oscar Farris Agricultural Museum located on the grounds of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at the Ellington Agriculture Center in Nashville.
And, once again, another famous Tennessean is being added to the Hall. From a report from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, it has been announced that the nine member Hall of Fame board recently met and unanimously chose to honor former 8thdistrict congressman Ed Jones, who helped craft landmark federal legislation establishing modern farm policy and conservation programs. He passed away in 1999 and becomes one of only 13 inductees in the Hall’s 74-year history. Tennessee is one of the few states in the nation that honors individuals who have rendered distinguished service to the science and art of agriculture.
Born in Yorkville, Tenn. in 1912, Jones earned a degree from the University of Tennessee and worked as a state dairy inspector. Following a career with the Illinois Central Railroad, Jones served as one of Tennessee’s youngest Commissioners of Agriculture from 1949 to 1953.
In the 1940s and 50s, Jones built his Yorkville family farm operation into one of the leading Jersey dairy genetic improvement programs in the nation, helping to pioneer the now common practice of artificial insemination.
“For those of us in agriculture, Congressman Jones was larger than life. I personally knew him and remember him visiting our family farm in rural West Tennessee when I was a just boy,” said Hall of Fame board chairman and state Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Terry J. Oliver.
“He was always an advocate for the farmer and had a profound impact not only on Tennessee, but national farm policy that still ensures food security today. I’m pleased that the board has recognized his service in this way.”
Jones began and ended his career as a farmer. He was first elected to Congress to represent rural Northwest Tennessee in 1969, serving 10 terms and retiring in 1989 as the Senior Democrat in the Tennessee Congressional Delegation. As a longtime member of the House Agriculture Committee, Jones is best known for his nonpartisan approach to politics. He authored several key pieces of farm legislation, including laws to reform the nation’s Farm Credit System and establishing the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and Conservation Reserve Program. Jones’ induction will be commemorated with a bronzed relief sculpture to be placed on permanent display at the museum in a ceremony to be determined later.
I to had the opportunity to meet Congressman Jones as he worked for Tennessee’s farmers in Washington. He looked at legislation with the attitude of what was best for all the folks back home and agriculture in general. I would have to say his character was what the term statesman should define. And, I don’t think the committee could have found a better “agricultural star” for our Hall of Fame.
– Pettus L. Read is editor and columnist for the Tennessee Home and Farm magazine. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org