Ag News

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.

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015

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“Congress stood with farmers and ranchers today in supporting innovation that helps the environment and keeps food prices down for everyone. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 would protect consumers from confusing and misleading GMO labels and create a national, voluntary labeling standard based on science and common sense.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation supports all farmers and ranchers and opposes anyone who stands in the way of safe, affordable food. Consumers benefit from variety in the marketplace and should be free to make choices based on facts. The facts are that many farmers are growing more food with fewer resources, reducing their environmental impact, and keeping costs down—all thanks to advances in biotechnology.

“Farm Bureau applauds Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) for introducing this legislation, as well as House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), for their leadership in moving the bill forward, and thanks the House for their overwhelming bipartisan support.”

Tennessee Farm Bureau Praises Congressional Support of Trade Promotion Authority

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U.S. Congressmen Phil Roe (R-1st), Chuck Fleischmann (R-3rd), Scott DesJarlais (R-4th), Jim Cooper (D-5th), Diane Black (R-6th), Marsha Blackburn (R-7th) and Stephen Fincher (R-8th) voted for bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) today, ensuring Tennessee farmers continue to expand their exports to new markets around the globe.

Access to markets throughout the world is vital to not only Tennessee agriculture, but also the entire United States. Tennessee Farm Bureau is encouraged by our Tennessee Congressional members’ support of the TPA.

For more than 30 years, Congress has passed TPA laws to guide both Democratic and Republican Administrations in pursuing trade agreements that support U.S. jobs, eliminating barriers in foreign markets and establishing rules to stop unfair trade. This year is no different, and passage is critical to safeguarding current trade deals and establishing new ones.

“Having our Congressional members support the Trade Promotion Authority with their vote brings Tennessee farmers closer to being able to access new markets,” Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch said. “Tennessee’s agricultural exports have grown significantly in the past several years, helping not only farmers, but Tennessee’s economy as a whole.”

Tennessee’s agricultural exports reached an estimated $1.9 billion in 2013, an increase over the $1.2 billion in 2009. These exports not only boosted Tennessee’s economy, it also supported around 14,200 jobs on the farm and in related industries. Passage of TPA allows these exports to grow exponentially in the future as it gives our negotiators the leverage they need to resolve trade conflicts, break down barriers to U.S. products and open new avenues for trade.

“Tennessee farmers produce a quality product valued around the world. Tapping into new markets and expanding current ones gives our economy an important lift and fuels rural development,” said Upchurch. “With today’s vote, our Congressional members assured our state’s farmers can continue to provide valued products to all consumers.”

No Avian Influenza in Tennessee, but We are Prepared

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The ongoing highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 outbreak has been devastating to the U.S. poultry industry and is one of the most costly national animal health disasters on record. While this particular disease incident affects poultry, there are disease risks that could just as easily devastate other livestock sectors.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is monitoring the situation and preparing for the likelihood that this poultry disease will be detected here in Tennessee. Many of the plans and practices in place are similar to what would occur with other species. 



Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed HPAI H5 in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. The disease has been found in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry flocks.  To date, 21 states have been affected including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa being heavily impacted and declaring a state of emergency. At this time, HPAI still has not been detected in Tennessee.

Nearly 50 million birds have been affected and USDA response efforts alone have costs more than $400 million. There have been no human cases associated with this incident. The outbreak appears to be slowing; however, this incidence is far from over. Migratory birds appear to be the main harbinger of the virus, so there is a strong chance for recurrence and spread of the disease in the fall as waterfowl migrate south. 


Tennessee’s Response

· The state has an Initial State Response and Containment Plan (ISRCP) for the control of H5/H7 avian influenza. The plan covers a wide range of responses and protocols for quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection and monitoring. Tennessee’s plan includes the use of an Incident Command System to coordinate response and recovery activities by both state and federal animal health officials. With TDA as the lead agency, planning has been done in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Health, USDA, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and Tennessee’s commercial poultry industry.

· Tennessee Avian Health Advisory Board is serving as the Tennessee Emergency Management Committee (EMDC). The committee comprises representatives of poultry companies, the Tennessee Poultry Association, the Tennessee departments of Agriculture, Environment and Conservation, and Health, USDA-APHIS and UT Extension. The EMDC regularly convenes and since March has conferenced three times for updates on the current outbreak and to recommend protective actions. The EMDC assists TDA and would make recommendations concerning repopulation, movement of poultry and poultry products and quarantine status.

· In addition to the normally scheduled Avian Influenza emergency preparedness exercise that is conducted every five years, TDA, TEMA, Health and the Tennessee One Health Committee will conduct a tabletop exercise and workshop in the coming weeks.

· While there is no evidence that this strain of avian influenza is communicable to humans, the Tennessee Department of Health is a major partner and is intricately involved in planning and response activities. This includes monitoring responders for flu-like symptoms, providing consultation on preventive measures, epidemiological and laboratory support, personal protective equipment training and veterinary medical supply management.

· In response to a request for assistance from the state of Minnesota, TDA has sent one staff veterinarian and two animal health technicians to assist with that state’s response efforts. Not only does this provide much needed assistance for a state that has more than 105 HPAI quarantined premises, but it provides an opportunity for real-life incident training for our personnel. We anticipate sending additional teams in the near future. 

· We are fortunate Tennessee’s State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher is the current president of the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO). As president, he conducts weekly conference calls between NASAHO and USDA-APHIS and is in regular communication with other states as to their protective and response activities. This gives our state a decisive advantage in keeping up with the latest developments. 

· On March 12, TDA issued an Animal Health Advisory to make poultry growers and owners aware of the avian influenza outbreak and remind them of biosecurity measures to protect their flocks. Additional advisories and information will be posted on the department’s website as needed. The department is also reaching out to fairs and 4-H agents across the state to remind them about animal health regulations and recommended biosecurity practices.

· Each year, TDA’s Kord Animal Health lab tests approximately 22,000 samples from poultry for avian flu. This includes routine surveillance and testing for commercial and backyard flocks and for the National Poultry Improvement Plan program. Additionally, the U.S. Wildlife Services conducts testing on waterfowl. We will continue surveillance and will consider increasing the number of samples tested as needed.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is focused on animal health and protecting the livestock industry that is so critical to our state’s well-being and economy. Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson said, “I believe we are well prepared to respond to and manage any disease incidence. We want to encourage producers to continue to practice and strengthen biosecurity measures and to report any unusual bird deaths.”

For more information on recommended biosecurity practices for commercial or backyard flocks, visit

For the latest information on the current U.S. avian influenza outbreak, visit the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website at

Public Notice by Tennessee Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Board

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The election of pork producer delegate candidates for the 2016 National Pork Producers (Pork Act) Delegate Body will take place at  1:30 p.m. (CST), Thursday, June 25, 2015in conjunction with an Executive Committee meeting of the Tennessee Pork Producers Association Pork Producers Association at the Ed Jones Auditorium, Ellington Ag Center, 440 Hogan Rd. Nashville, TN.All Tennessee producers are invited to attend. The 2016 National Pork Forum is scheduled for March 3-5, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

 Any producer, age 18 or older, who is a resident of the state and has paid all assessments due may be considered as a delegate candidate and/or participate in the election. All eligible producers are encouraged to bring with them a sales receipt proving that hogs were sold in their name and the checkoff deducted.  For more information, contact Tennessee Pork Producers Association, 13994 Versailles Rd., Rockvale, TN 37153 ph: 615 274 6533.

UT Institute of Agriculture Will Soon Have New 4-H Camp and Conference Center

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It’s a stunning tract of Tennessee property – 1,200 acres of woods, pastures, lakes and farmland – and soon it will host 4-H campers and people of all ages looking for a great place to gather and learn.

A new 4-H camp and conference center is coming to Lone Oaks Farm in Hardeman County. Recently the Tennessee General Assembly approved the state budget for the next fiscal year, which includes funding for the Lone Oaks project.

“We are very appreciative the legislature saw the value and potential of having a 4-H camp and educational center that can be used by many Tennesseans,” said UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington. “It will be located in West Tennessee, but available to anyone looking for a unique center for learning. The new center will have a tremendous educational and economic impact.”

"The West Tennessee 4-H Center was one of the top budget priorities I advocated for this year. This facility will give UT Extension and 4-H a valuable tool for preparing our young people with the life skills they need to succeed and lead,” said UT System President Joe DiPietro. “In addition, the center also will serve as an interactive community resource for the West Tennessee region for many groups to explore and appreciate.”

Lone Oaks will be used to teach young people about agriculture, natural resources and science. Existing buildings on the property can also be used for organizational retreats and meetings by industry and agri-business groups.

Many site development features are already in place, including roads, fencing and utilities. A number of facilities and buildings are there as well, including lodging, a museum, a livestock sale area with seating for more than 300 people, and a commercial kitchen capable of serving 300 guests. Many lakes and ponds are at Lone Oaks, as well as an equestrian facility that can be used for both camp rides and hosting competitions.

According to a study conducted by the UT Center for Sustainable Business and Development, the 4-H and Conference Center could contribute $47 million to the region’s economy.

“Lone Oaks is a beautiful and versatile place,” says UT Extension Dean Tim Cross. “We believe UT Extension can now create a premiere 4-H Camp and Conference Center, and a place that all Tennesseans can proudly say represents our state.”

This process took several years, following the closure of the Buford Ellington 4-H Center in Milan in 2009 due to budget reductions and deteriorating conditions. UT Extension stakeholders wanted a new 4-H center to serve the western region of Tennessee, and listening sessions were then conducted involving Extension, UT alumni, 4-H volunteers, and community leaders and key supporters.

More than 7,000 contacts to legislators were made through the UT Advocacy network, and many more contacts were made outside the system by interested groups, especially members of the Tennessee Farm Bureau. To date, more than $4 million has been gifted or pledged to support the project.

“The investment by philanthropists helped to convince many caring stakeholders and lawmakers that 4-H is strongly supported statewide,” said Keith Barber, Vice Chancellor of UTIA Institutional Advancement. “The people and organizations who have provided financial assistance have proven that our youth are worth their investments.”

UT Extension operates three other 4-H centers across the state in Columbia, Crossville and Greeneville, and 13,000 kids attend programs at these facilities throughout the year. With the establishment of the new center in West Tennessee, more children who have not been able to participate in 4-H programs will now have the opportunity.

“I’m very excited to hear the news that the Lone Oaks project passed in Nashville,” said Gary Rodgers, UT Extension director for Hardeman County and longtime 4-H agent. “We look forward to beginning the process to make this an amazing center that will help meet the needs of a wide range of clientele. The possibilities are truly endless.”

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.


Contact: Chuck Denney, 865-974-7141, or

Pick Tennessee Offers chance to "Fill Your Grill" with Farm-Direct Meats

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Facebook users have the chance to win $200 worth of local meats from a nearby farm. A contest is being conducted by Pick Tennessee Products, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s program that connects farmers directly to consumers.

A total of 12 winners will be randomly chosen at noon on June 15 and notified by Pick Tennessee Products.

Several Tennessee associations including the Tennessee Beef Industry Council, the Tennessee Pork Producers and the Tennessee Sheep Producers Association have partnered with Pick Tennessee to promote state meat producers and help fund the contest. TDA marketing specialist Wendy Sneed says it’s part of an effort to get the word out to consumers that purchasing meats directly from nearby farms is easy to do.

“Visit the Pick TN Products Facebook page,” Sneed said. “Click on the ‘Fill Your Grill’ posting, which is linked to a directory of participating farmers.” Contestants must choose which farm they would visit to collect their meats, then submit that choice with their own contact information.

To enter, search for “Pick TN Products” on Facebook. You will also find a link to the contest page on

“Winners will be selected June 15 because we want to give winners a chance to claim their meats in time for the 4th of July,” said Sneed. “Of course, winners might prefer to put their prizes in their freezers to enjoy all their local meats a little at time, over a long period of time. One of the great things about this contest is that the choice is up to the contestant about what meats they want to purchase, and which cuts.  Each contestant just needs to be sure to choose the farm that offers what he or she wants, whether it’s beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry—or some of everything.”

There is no cash prize. Entrants win the opportunity to go to a farm or local meats business and choose up to $200 of Tennessee meats. All funds will go directly to the farmer or business to reimburse them for their products.

Follow Pick TN Products on Facebook, Twitter and on the Web. More information about the contest is available on the “Fill Your Grill” contest page.

‘Get a Move on for GMOs’ Helps Farmers Stand Up for Biotechnology

Click the image to view larger. is Farm Bureau’s just-launched advocacy website that gives farmers and ranchers a simple way to “Get a Move On” for GMOs. Through the website, farmers can easily express support for a national, science-based labeling standard, like the approach taken in the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599).

“Now is the time for farmers and ranchers to take action in support of innovation in agriculture,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “Access to crop traits that resist pests, diseases and drought stress is helping farmers across the nation grow more food using less land, water, fuel and pesticides,” Stallman said. “Biotechnology will offer even more benefits in the future.”

From the website, farmers and ranchers can send House members emails encouraging “yea” votes for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The bill will clarify the Food and Drug Administration as the nation’s foremost authority on food safety and create a voluntary labeling program run by the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the same agency that administers the USDA Organic Program.

The legislation will provide a federal solution to protect consumers from a confusing patchwork of 50-state GMO labeling policies, and the misinformation and high food costs that would come with them.

Through, farmers can not only connect with their lawmakers, but find state-by-state fact sheets detailing the value and share of GMO crops in each state. They can then share this information in their emails.

“It’s critical that we as farmers help our lawmakers understand that there’s a cost associated with discouraging agricultural innovation,” Stallman said. “That cost will go well beyond the higher prices consumers will pay at the supermarket if each state passes its own GMO labeling law,” he added.

In addition to the advocacy site, Farm Bureau’s grassroots toolkit continues to be a helpful resource for farmers and ranchers who want to share the many positives about biotechnology with policymakers, community members and others. Accessible at, this free online resource includes an overview of biotechnology; an explanation of biotechnology’s benefits to consumers, the environment, farmers, the U.S. economy, and more; links to credible sources for biotech information; and avenues for getting active on social media.

A strong consumer-focused resource is, which allows people to ask any and all questions about GMOs. Responses come from independent experts in leading academic institutions, industry groups and representatives from Biotechnology Industry Organization member companies. The website also features studies, articles and safety data.

$145,000 Up for Grabs: Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

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The American Farm Bureau Federation today announced applications for the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge will be accepted beginning June 1 through June 30. Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds.

The challenge, now in its second year, provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being cultivated in rural regions of the United States. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses.

“The inaugural challenge successfully identified rural entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, proving that great business ideas can germinate anywhere,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “We’re excited to see the new crop of ideas our members will bring to the table this year.”

New this year, competitors must have an idea for a business that is related directly or indirectly to food and agriculture. Businesses directly related to food and agriculture include farms or ranches, value-added food processing, food hubs, community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), farm-to-table restaurants and farmers’ markets. Businesses indirectly related to food and agriculture include support services such as crop scouting, agritourism, ag advertising agencies and ag tech companies that develop apps.

Also new, Farm Bureau will endeavor to connect top-scoring teams with resources for crowdfunding loans to help them jumpstart their businesses.

“Taking a startup company from innovative concept, to strategy, to reality often hinges on access to capital,” said Dr. Lisa Benson, AFBF’s director of rural development. “The challenge and crowdfunding are great options for small rural business owners to access necessary funding to take their business to the next level.”

Again this year, competitors must be based in a rural community as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Competitors’ primary residences or businesses must be located in a county with less than 50,000 residents or a town with less than 2,500 residents.

All applications, which include a business plan, video pitch and photo, must be submitted by June 30. Judges will review the applications and provide feedback to the participants. Participants have the option of resubmitting portions of their applications; resubmission is optional and participants are not penalized for not resubmitting their applications.

The top 10 teams will be announced on Oct. 15. This includes six teams who will win $10,000 in startup funds and four finalist teams who will win $15,000 in startup funds and compete in a live competition at AFBF’s 97th Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, in January.

Finalists will compete for the grand prize title Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneur of the Year and $15,000 in additional startup funds to implement their ideas. One of the finalists also will be honored with the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 in additional startup funding.

The competition timeline, detailed eligibility guidelines, a preview of the online application and profiles of the 2015 finalist teams are available at

Judges for the challenge come from a wide range of economic development backgrounds, including banking, universities and rural development non-profit organizations. Farm Bureau staff at the county, state and national level or one of Farm Bureau’s affiliate companies may not serve as judges or enter the competition.

About the American Farm Bureau Federation
With family members at the county or parish level in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the American Farm Bureau Federation is the unified national “Voice of Agriculture,” working to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities. AFBF is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots organization of farm and ranch families. Additional information may be found at and Follow AFBF on Twitter: @FarmBureau.

For more information, go to the Farm Bureau Challenge Press Room.