Terry J. Oliver has been named the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.
“I have personally known Terry and have sought his advice and counsel through the years on agricultural issues,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen, as he made the announcement. “Always dependable and a man of his word, Terry made a great team with former Commissioner Ken Givens in leading our efforts to address the needs and opportunities of farmers and rural communities. He is the right person to assume leadership of the Department of Agriculture at this time, and I’m very pleased to announce his appointment.”
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture provides a variety of consumer protection services, promotes farm products and encourages the sustainable management of forest and farmland resources. Farming and forestry not only preserve a time-honored way of life, but they also fuel the state’s economy. Agricultural production generates more than $3.1 billion annually in farm cash receipts and another $329 million generated by timber sales.
“I very much appreciate the opportunity to serve Governor Bredesen and the state of Tennessee as commissioner,” Oliver said. “The Department of Agriculture touches the lives of Tennesseans every day through the food we eat, the fuel we pump, the clothes we wear, the wood products we use and the land we enjoy. It will be an honor for me to serve Tennesseans in this new role.”
A West Tennessee farmer and businessman, Oliver has nearly 20 years of public service and experience in state government and has served four commissioners of Agriculture as deputy commissioner. He returned to state government in February 2003 having served previously in the same capacity from 1987 to 1995.
Oliver has led efforts to improve the effectiveness of the Division of Forestry and also played a significant role in the development and implementation of the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, a cost share program established by Bredesen to spur farm innovation and agricultural development in Tennessee.
A native of Gleason, Tenn., Oliver holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is a member of the advisory council for the Governor’s School of Agriculture Sciences at UT Martin – one of only three enrichment programs in the nation for high school agriculture students. He is also a former member of the USDA Farm Services Agency state committee.
Oliver, a sixth generation farmer, and his wife Marsha reside on their family farm in Gleason and have two daughters and three grandchildren.