Ag News

Washington County Farmer Aiken Re-elected VP of Nation’s Largest State Farm Bureau

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During their 93rd annual convention held at Franklin’s Cool Springs Marriott, 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 2015 at the state and federal levels, they also re-elected their vice president of the nation’s largest state Farm Bureau organization.

Washington county beef, dairy and tobacco farmer Jeff Aiken was elected today by the voting delegate body to serve as the organization’s vice president representing more than 655,000 family members in Tennessee. Aiken has served as 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 is a native of Washington County.  He and his wife Carol farm near Telford in upper East Tennessee where he produces corn, 100 acres of tobacco and more than 300 head of beef cattle.

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, Eric Mayberry from Hurricane Mills, James Haskew from South Pittsburg, Dan Hancock from Smithville, David Mitchell from Blaine and Mrs. Jane May, State Women’s chairman from Newbern.

Also during the annual meeting, AJ Teal of Coffee County was selected as the new state Young Farmer and Rancher chairman.


For more information, contact Lee Maddox, Tennessee Farm Bureau Director of Communications – – 931-388-7872

2014 Tennessee Farm Bureau Convention

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The 2014 Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation Convention will be held December 6-9 in Cool Springs, Tennessee. Farmers from across the state will gather to learn about issues affecting agriculture, new technologies, network with other farmers and agribusinesses and hold their yearly business session where they will discuss and vote on policy to direct the organization for the coming year.

View a program and agenda for the convention.

Tennessee FFA Member Selected as FFA's National Southern Region Vice President

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Students from Georgia, Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky and New Mexico have been elected by delegates from throughout the United States to serve on the 2014-15 National FFA Officer team.

  • Andy Paul of Georgia, an agricultural education major at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, was elected president.
  • Victoria Maloch of Arkansas, an agricultural business and pre-law major at University of Arkansas, will serve as secretary.
  • Kristen Schmidt of Colorado, an animal science and agricultural business major at Colorado State University, was elected central region vice president.
  • Stephen McBride of Tennessee, an agricultural business major at University of Tennessee at Martin, will serve as southern region vice president.
  • Ruth Ann Myers of Kentucky, an agricultural education major at University of Kentucky, was elected eastern region vice president.
  • Caleb Gustin of New Mexico, an agricultural business and agricultural economics major at New Mexico State University, will serve as western region vice president.

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as National FFA officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country.

National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 610,240 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,665 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

TN Young Farmers of the Year Winners Receive Their Prize

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Greene County young farm couple Mark and Cindy Klepper won Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farmer and Achievement Award at the Tennessee Young Farmer Summer Conference. The young row crop, cattle and poultry farmers from the Baileyton community, recently received their prize - the use of a brand new Case IH tractor up to 150 hours, courtesy of Case IH.

Mark and Cindy were named this year’s winners based upon farm and financial records from the farm year 2013. The Kleppers farm 1700 acres in Greene County. Their major crops are corn, soybeans and hay. They are contract growers for Koch Foods where they raise more than 920,000 broiler chickens a year. They also have a beef cattle operation where they raise nearly 100 cows.
Both Mark and Cindy have been very active in the Young Farmer and Rancher program, as well as the Greene County Farm Bureau and their community. Mark has served on the Board of Directors of the Greene County Farm Bureau since 2008 and was state chairman of the Tennessee YF&R in 2009. Both are very active in their church. The Kleppers have two children.

The Acheivement 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.
The Klepper family receive a year’s free use of a brand new Case/IH tractor up to 150 hours. They also receive $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 Diego, California in January 2015, where they will compete for national honors with other state winners. The national winner will get their choice of a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado or 2015 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM and paid registration to the 2015 YF&R Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. 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.

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on 2014 U.S. Agricultural Exports Setting New Record

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its final total for U.S. agricultural exports in Fiscal Year 2014, which soared to a record $152.5 billion (up from last year's record of $141 billion).

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement regarding the record-setting year:

"American farmers and ranchers have once again achieved another year of record exports Agricultural exports have climbed 41 percent in value over the past five years. U.S. agricultural exports have increased in volume as well as in monetary value, which demonstrates an increasing global appetite for high-quality, American-grown products.

"The Administration's Made in Rural America initiative, led by USDA, remains committed to strengthening rural communities, and will continue to focus on investments in rural businesses, manufacturing, energy, water and other infrastructure development. Collectively, these efforts help to expand export opportunities for what is grown and made in rural America, create jobs, and foster growth that strengthens our nation's economy."

Yes on 2

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What Is Vote YES on 2?


  • Vote YES on 2 is the campaign to pass the Judicial Selection Amendment to our state constitution. The Judicial Selection Amendment is the second of four proposed amendments on the statewide ballot this November and is commonly referred to as Amendment 2.
  • Passing Amendment 2 strengthens the voice of Tennesseans in selecting our appellate court judges, so we get fair and impartial judges held accountable to the people of Tennessee.
  • Amendment 2 improves the way we select the judges who serve on our statewide appellate courts: the five Supreme Court justices, the twelve judges on the Court of Appeals, and the twelve judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals.
  • Amendment 2 does NOT change the selection process for trial court judges, who run in local elections.

How Does Amendment 2 Strengthen the Voice of Tennessee Voters?

More than two-thirds of our elected representatives in the Tennessee General Assembly voted in two consecutive legislative sessions to add Amendment 2 to the statewide ballot this fall. It will be 2 of four proposed amendments on the November 4, 2014, ballot–with early voting starting on October 15.

Here’s the text of Amendment 2 as it will appear on the statewide ballot. It is proposed that Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following:


Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article.”

Amendment 2 improves the way we select our judges who serve on our statewide appellate courts. Amendment 2 does NOT change the selection process for trial court judges, who run in local elections.

By passing Amendment 2, Tennesseans will gain three powerful votes in the selection of our appellate court judges:

  1. By voting for the Governor who will make the appointments;
  2. By voting for our State Senators and State Representatives who will confirm or reject the appointments;
  3. By voting to keep or fire the judges at the end of their respective terms.

By passing Amendment 2, the voice of the people will clearly be heard.

What is Yes on 2?

  • It protects the right of Tennesseans to vote to keep or fire the judges at the end of their respective terms.
  • It adds a new layer of accountability by having our elected representatives in the Legislature confirm or reject the Governor’s appointees.
  • It helps keep the influence of special interest money away from our judges and out of our state.
  • Judges are like referees. They need to be unbiased and apply the law fairly, not make rulings based on campaign contributions. We need the best judges, not the best politicians.

Visit to find out more information.

Tennessee Farm Bureau Hosts Agriculture U.S. Senate Forum

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Cookeville, TN October 16, 2014 – The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation hosted an agricultural forum for the two U.S. Senate nominees, Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic challenger Gordon Ball, at the Hyder-Burks Pavilion on the Tennessee Tech University campus.
Tennessee Farm Bureau volunteer leaders from across the state were in attendance as the candidates answered questions on issues concerning agriculture, the economy, labor and the environment.
“We are fortunate in Tennessee to have two candidates who are willing to share their thoughts on some of agriculture’s critical issues. Our farmers from across the state want to know their elected officials know and care about concerns affecting agriculture and we appreciate Senator Alexander and Mr. Ball’s willingness to serve as our voice in Washington, D.C.,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch.
This forum is the only time that both candidates will be addressing questions in the same location as well as speaking specifically to issues concerning agriculture and Tennessee.  Both Senator Alexander and Gordon Ball began with opening remarks and then took turns answering questions about farm labor, stimulating rural economies, federal regulatory overreach on farms and questions from the audience.
Senator Alexander spoke in his opening remarks about sharing the concerns of rural people in Tennessee, “Our country is in trouble and I am running for a third term because I believe I can make a difference. It doesn’t help rural families to have rules regulating mud puddles and keeping kids from wanting to return to the farm. We need a new direction for our country.”
Both candidates spoke eloquently about their ideas on immigration reform and the environment, with Gordon Ball stating, “I am for the environment, for the farmers and as a rural person who grew up on the Pigeon River I know what it is like to be poor. Education is key to keeping our young farmers on the farm.”
Tennessee Farm Bureau is the largest Farm Bureau in the nation with a membership more than 600,000, and is a voluntary farm membership 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, TN Farm Bureau Director of Communications - - 931-388-7872

Cooperatives provide billion-dollar boost to state's economy

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October is Cooperative Month in Tennessee, and proclamation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam deeming it as such heaps high praise on the approximately 200 member-owned organizations that employ more than 6,000 individuals, impact our state’s economy by more than $1 billion, and provide a wide array of products and services to member-owners.

“Today, more than 75 percent of Tennessee’s rural residents are served by a cooperative,” the governor said.

The proclamation, also signed by Secretary of State Tre Hargett, reads, in part: “Tennessee cooperatives improve the well-being of rural residents and communities across our state by providing electric, internet, and telephone services to homes, farms, and rural businesses; financing for land, assets, and inputs; products and services, including genetics and seed, nutrients and feed, crop protection and health, equipment and fuel for growing and marketing crops and livestock; and insurance for individuals and family businesses, resulting in employment for thousands of Tennesseans.”

Haslam also stressed that rural cooperatives are important partners with today’s farmers “as they work diligently to produce safe, abundant, dependable, and affordable food and fiber for both a rapidly growing world population and an increasingly interconnected and proactively health-conscious local consumer.”

What sets cooperatives apart from other types of businesses is that they are owned and controlled by the people who use their products and services, so members have a chance to share in their successes and have a voice in their operation. Cooperatives are led by their membership through an elected board of directors and share profits with members by reducing costs of their products or services or by providing patronage refunds.

“Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of cooperatives, particularly to our rural communities,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Cooperatives illustrate the very best of the American Way through members who participate in local, community ownership, and where shared responsibility not only helps reduce the cost of products and services but provides economic opportunity.”

Haslam also had good things to say about the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC), calling it “the state’s flagship organization for coordinating, promoting, educating, and extending cooperative development in Tennessee.”

“It often serves as a clearinghouse for the open exchange of information and experiences among cooperative businesses, a sounding board for new ideas, and a forum for discovery, discussion, and dissemination,” he said.

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Marketing Manager Keith Harrison, current president of TCC, said, “Our board of directors is committed to promoting the cooperative way of doing business.  That’s evident in many of our current programs.  The council sponsors scholarships for agricultural students at each of Tennessee’s four-year agricultural colleges, hosts an annual leadership conference for more than 400 young leaders from across the state, sponsors an annual education workshop for more than 50 employees of cooperatives in addition to providing leadership, cooperation, and support to various other programs.  We truly believe the cooperative business model will continue to play a vital role in strengthening our state’s rural economy in the future.”

Nationwide this year, more than 29,000 cooperatives will celebrate October Co-op Month, promoting the advantages of cooperative membership and recognizing the benefits and value co-ops bring to their communities. The observance has been celebrated annually for the past 84 years. This year’s theme —“The Co-op Connection”— celebrates the ways co-ops connect with each other, their communities, and their world.

Visit for more information about Tennessee cooperatives or the TCC and its programs. Visit for more information about the national Co-op Month celebration.


Wild Hog Eradication update

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Outreach has continued with several wild hog control demonstrations being conducted at UT Extension field-days. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, USDA Wildlife Services, TWRA and others are doing a great job educating the public on this issue.  Also, a WHEAT video has been created to aid in outreach efforts.  The video can be viewed from the following link

A busy harvest season means “Safety Counts – Protecting What Matters”

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Tennessee farmers are reaping the yields of their hard work this harvest season and that means long hours in their fields and lots of additional vehicles sharing our roadways.  The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation would like to remind farmers and farm workers that safety should be practiced at all times, but especially during the heightened activity surrounding harvest.

Stats project our farms will have to produce enough food to feed nine billion people by the year 2050, and doing that safely for both the farmers and public is the number one goal. Agriculture continues to rank as one of the most dangerous occupations, mainly due to the long hours, equipment and nature of the work that happens on farms…especially during planting and harvest seasons.

There’s been an unwanted safety trend in rural America with an increase in motor vehicle versus farm equipment incidents on rural roadways.  Farm equipment operators should always think about safe driving habits as they transport equipment to and from the field. 

Farmers can help avoid collisions by making sure that they have up-to-date lighting and clearly visible Slow Moving Vehicle emblems and other reflective markings or flashing lights when possible. 

Both farm operators and passenger vehicles should avoid distractions while driving, such as texting.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

Tennessee Farm Bureau policy states that farm safety is of the utmost importance to our farmers across the state.  This policy is reviewed, updated and changed if needed every year beginning at the county level. The policies are discussed as to whether it should stay, change or be deleted out of Farm Bureau policy for the next year.

“Farm families and employees need to be more aware of safety and health precautions on the farm. We should prepare for emergencies and know how to cope until help arrives. In addition to current training for all EMS and rescue organizations, we support an additional requirement of annual farm emergency and rescue training…” the policy clearly reflects the feeling on the importance of safety on farms across Tennessee.

Many farm families have developed a safety policy that includes safety goals for their operation. The farm owner, employees, volunteers and family members then work together to develop a plan to meet this policy. It is important family members, employees and volunteers working
at the operation know how to do their jobs safely so that in times of stress, long hours, inclement weather or even an emergency, all members of the farm team know what to do. Tennessee Farm Bureau reminds farmers to train and review
safety points with all new employees, volunteers and family members. Make them aware of telephones and posted emergency numbers, fire extinguishers and contingency plans. An effective strategy for teaching children to be safe is to have all employees, volunteers and family members display safe practices at all times, as kids will repeat what they see adults doing.

National Farm Safety and Health Week is September 21-27, so farmer or a member of the general public, keep in mind to share the roads, don’t drive distracted, be aware of safety and emergency plans at your place of work and know where to turn if an emergency does occur near you.