NASHVILLE ““ Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson today announced the appointment of McNairy County mayor and lifelong farmer Jai Templeton as the agency’s deputy commissioner.
“Jai is a proven leader who has extensive experience in government and firsthand knowledge of agriculture and rural issues both as a farmer and as mayor of a rural county,” said Johnson. “He will bring an invaluable perspective to the department as we seek to build our rural economy and better serve the farm community. Gov. Haslam and I are pleased that he has agreed to join our staff.”
Templeton will join the department June 1. He succeeds retiring Deputy Commissioner Terry Oliver, who has 20 years of public service including a stint as commissioner under former Gov. Phil Bredesen.
As deputy commissioner, Templeton will oversee day-to-day operations of the department, helping to direct programs and services ranging from food safety, animal and plant health, pesticides and consumer protection to forestry and agricultural development.
Templeton has served as mayor of McNairy County since 2006, leading that county’s successful efforts to reduce debt and increase fund balances without raising taxes during the economic recession. He is a former county commissioner and former president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce, where he helped form the McNairy County Regional Alliance to focus on economic development in the area.
“I am grateful for the confidence that Commissioner Johnson has shown in appointing me to this position,” said Templeton. “I look forward to working with him and the department to grow Tennessee’s agricultural economy. It will be a privilege to serve in Gov. Haslam’s administration.”
As county mayor, Templeton has also served on the UT Martin-McNairy County Center Advisory Board, the West Tennessee Railroad Authority, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority and the Southwest Tennessee Development District Executive Board.
From 1994 to 2003, he served as a field representative for former U.S. Representative Ed Bryant, covering the rural portion of Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District. He also served as a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and he is a graduate of Weststar, Leadership McNairy County and AgStar professional development programs.
Templeton is a sixth generation farmer producing grain, cotton, hay, timber and cattle. He is a member of the 25 Farmer Network, a pilot effort to grow new and alternative crops to support the development of value-added markets in the Mid-South.
He is a member of the McNairy-Chester County Cattlemen’s Association, the McNairy County Forestry Landowner’s Association, the Tennessee Farm Bureau, the Mid-South Farmer’s Co-op, the Selmer Rotary Club and the Stantonville Ruritan Club.
He and his wife, Allison, and their children, Mycaela, Canon and Eliza Smith, reside on their family farm in Stantonville, Tenn. and attend the First Baptist Church of Adamsville.