Ag News

New Leadership in Tennessee Youth Ag Leadership Programs

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New leadership to serve youth agricultural leadership programs 4-H and FFA were recently elected at the Tennessee State FFA Convention and Tennessee 4-H Congress respectively.

4-H Congress elected Kendall Garrell from Lincoln County as Governor; Heath Quick from Shelby County as Speaker of the Senate and Timothy Martin from Shelby County as Speaker of the House.

Tennessee FFA elected Chelsea Sanders from Wilson Central as State FFA President; Emily White from Daniel Boone as East TN Vice President; Derek Anderson from Coffee County as Middle TN Vice President; Madison Benson from Scotts Hill as West TN Vice President; Dalton Teel from Lebanon as Secretary; Chad Lewis from Halls as Treasurer; Chelsea Wattenbarger from Stone as Reporter and Stephen McNeil from Portland as Sentinel.

These young leaders will serve over the next year, representing their respective organizations at various conferences, leadership events, contests and businesses - showcasing their talents and skills they have gained through their leadership in these two premier youth groups. The future is bright with youth such as these leading our agricultural organizations.

March 1 Planting Intentions

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Farmers in Tennessee intend to plant 840 thousand acres of corn, 80,000 lower than 2014. U.S. corn growers intend to plant 89.2 million acres for all purposes in 2015, down 2 percent from last year and 6 percent lower than 2013. Soybean acreage in Tennessee was expected to total 1.80 million acres, up 160,000 acres from the previous year. U.S. soybean planted area for 2015 is estimated at 84.6 million acres, up 1 percent from last year.

Burley tobacco growers in Tennessee intend to set 14,000 acres for harvest, down 1,500 acres from 2014. For the burley producing States, growers intend to set 93,700 acres, 8 percent below last year. Producers intend to set 7,200 acres of dark-fired tobacco in Tennessee, down 400 acres from the previous year. Acreage set to dark-air tobacco was estimated at 1,200 acres, up 50 acres from 2014.
Winter wheat seeded by Tennessee farmers in the fall of 2014 totaled 470,000 acres, down 60,000 acres from previous year. Seeded acreage for the nation was 40.8 million acres, down 4
percent from 2014. Upland cotton acreage in Tennessee was expected to total 170 thousand acres, down 105,000 acres from the previous year. U.S. all cotton acreage for 2015 is estimated at 9.55 million acres, down 13 percent from last year.
Farmers in the state intend to harvest 1.85 million acres of all hay, up 84,000 from 2014. U.S. farmers intend on harvesting 57.1 million acres of hay in 2015, up slightly from last year. The acreage of all hay harvested during a summer depends to a great measure on the moisture received during the growing season and temperatures experienced. With a drier summer farmers will cut more hay to feed their cattle.

Farmers and Ranchers Warn: Estate Taxes Can Kill Family Businesses

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Farm Bureau member Brandon Whitt urged Congress to repeal the estate tax to free up farmers and ranchers to build stronger businesses and benefit their local communities. Whitt, who farms in Tennessee, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, where he outlined the harmful impact the estate tax has on family-owned businesses.

“Agriculture looks different on farms from state to state but we all face the same reality that an uncertain tomorrow can bring,” Whitt said. While facing unpredictable weather and fluctuating markets, farmers and ranchers make decisions to expand their businesses and remain competitive. “Why should uncertainties over estate taxes be added to these others? Our job is hard enough as it is.”

Whitt’s family knows the harmful effects of the estate tax firsthand. Batey Farms, which Whitt runs with his wife – the 7th generation on the farm – and father-in-law, changed completely when his father-in-law was forced to sell off land to pay estate taxes: The land was lost to development, never to be recovered. Today, they continue to face expensive, long-term decisions to make Batey Farms viable far into the future, but they are committed to preserving the land for their community and future generations.

“We believe that our farm adds value to our town, that our neighbors value our open space, that our customers value having a local food source and that our farm market creates a sense of community,” Whitt said.

Around 90 percent of farm and ranch assets are illiquid, with the value tied up in land, buildings and equipment. For Whitt’s family, and thousands of others just like them, the ability to grow a business and pass it on to the next generation is slowed by a tax policy in direct conflict with the desire to preserve and protect our nation’s family-owned farms and ranches.

Tennessee Celebrates Ag Week

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We are celebrating Ag Week this week in Tennessee, but National Ag Day recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by American agriculture. Every spring, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and others across the country join together in recognition - and appreciation - of agriculture in our country. There are over seven billion people in the world today - that's over seven billion mouths to feed every day. Show your appreciation for the individuals that make this feat possible on Ag Day. Join us March 18, 2015 to show your appreciation to all those in the agriculture industry. ‪#‎agday2015‬

Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed March 18 as Agriculture Day in Tennessee. This day coincides with National Agriculture Day to celebrate the abundance provided by the farms and producers of America.

“We thank Gov. Haslam for recognizing the influence of agriculture on our state,” Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson said. “As the world population soars, the demand for food, fiber and fuel continues to grow. Tennessee is helping to meet that demand.”

Agriculture contributes to almost everything we eat, use and wear every day. The purpose of Agriculture Day is to unite Tennesseans and to appreciate the role the industry plays in our lives.

“We want to thank the farmers who produce the crops and livestock, the staff who support the industry, and the individuals who use Tennessee products to improve the world,” Commissioner Johnson added. “Although our state is incredibly diverse in people and landscape, we can all agree to the importance of agriculture.”

Tennessee Agriculture by the Numbers
• 68,000 farms
• 10.9 million acres of farmland
• More than $4.1 billion in annual farm income
• Nearly $1 billion in annual exports

Tennessee’s Top-Selling Commodities
1. Soybeans
2. Cattle
3. Corn
4. Broiler Chickens
5. Cotton

The celebration will continue March 24 with Ag Day on the Hill when the General Assembly will experience much of what Tennessee agriculture has to offer. The event gets underway at Legislative Plaza in Nashville at 8 a.m. with live animals and displays from all sectors of Tennessee agriculture. House and Senate members will compete at 9 a.m. in a corn shelling contest.

Festivities also include a silent auction to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and a sweet potato bagging project for the Society of St. Andrew.

Tennessee to Check for Livestock Traceability Compliance Starting Jan. 1

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture will conduct routine compliance checks beginning Jan. 1, 2015 for the federal Animal Disease Traceability rule. The rule went into effect last year and requires the identification of livestock being transported across state lines.

“The federal rule is an effective way to trace the movement of livestock in an animal disease event so that appropriate action can be taken to limit the impact on producers,” state veterinarian Charles Hatcher said. “The rule only applies to livestock being moved interstate, but it’s important that Tennessee farmers work with their local veterinarian to obtain proper documentation.”

The ADT rule requires all livestock, including cattle, equine, sheep and goats, swine and poultry, being moved interstate to be officially identified, unless specifically exempted. Livestock must be accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.

Brands, tattoos and brand registration can also be used as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states. Backtags are accepted as an alternative to official eartags for cattle moved directly to slaughter.

Animal health documentation is still required by the state under certain circumstances for livestock being moved within Tennessee. Additionally, some states have documentation requirements that go beyond the federal rule. Producers should consult with their veterinarians to make sure that any livestock that is transported complies with all regulations.
TDA is working to implement a user-friendly online system already adopted by 20 other states that will allow private veterinarians to submit and access documents electronically in order to help with compliance. Veterinarians interested in participating should contact the State Veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120 or

For more information, visit USDA’s website at or for details about Tennessee’s animal health programs.  

96th Annual American Farm Bureau Convention

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The American Farm Bureau Federation works all year to create an Annual Convention that will be educational, inspirational and memorable, and our 96th gathering will check all of the boxes! I look forward to welcoming Farm Bureau members from across the country to San Diego in January 2015.

The theme of AFBF’s 96th Annual Convention is Tradition, Perseverance and Vision. Our convention reflects Farm Bureau’s grassroots Tradition, as Farm Bureau leaders gather to consider policies developed by farmers and ranchers at the local and state levels, and set a national course. 

This tradition has continued since our founding in 1919, and it is the source of our authenticity and strength. We will continue the American Farm Bureau’s Perseverance in being the Voice of Agriculture® that America’s farmers and ranchers need. 

We hope you will like the changes we are making, as they are a reflection of our ambitious Vision for Farm Bureau’s future. Launching in 2015: IDEAg@Annual Convention, with workshops on the latest agricultural innovations, business-to-business relationships, investments, farm succession planning and consumer relations. We will offer peer-to-peer discussions and opportunities to network with industry experts and leaders. You will even have the chance to go shopping on the trade show floor. It’s all part of the new, interactive AFBF trade show. There has never been a more exciting time to be in agriculture and to take part in agriculture’s premier event—the AFBF Annual Convention.

California, our host state, is an agricultural powerhouse. What a great place to get together and celebrate America’s agricultural diversity and productivity. We are thrilled to be visiting the Golden State. I hope to see you there!


Bob Stallman

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® Launches HOW-TO Video Series about Farming and Ranching

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1,200 cows milked. 50,000 eggs gathered.  Clean barns for 7,000 pigs. One day’s work for America’s farmers! People can now learn how they do it through U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s® (USFRA®) new online “How To Farm” video series that launched today on USFRA’s website,

Hosted by blogger Kelly Snyder (, USFRA’s online video series illustrates different farming practices. The educational videos, which range between two to four minutes, highlight the daily activities of farmers and ranchers across the nation who grow and raise our food.  The first four videos give viewers an up-close look at just how farmers grow and raise food, including:  

How To Milk 1,200 Cows (filmed with Brian Rexing at New Generation Dairy in Indiana)

How To Care for 7,000 Pigs (filmed with Art Braundmeier at The Maschhoffs in Illinois)

How To Use Trash to Help Crops Grow (filmed on Len Corzine’s farm in Illinois)

How To Gather 50,000 Eggs A Day (filmed with Ron Campbell at Opal Foods in Missouri)

“People know what farmers generally do, but not exactly how they do it. The opportunity to spend time on a farm alongside a farmer is not one that most people get,” said Randy Krotz, CEO of USFRA.  “This new online video series brings the farm to your living room, office, kitchen, classroom, mobile device -- anywhere you are.  Americans have so many questions about food production and the first videos in this series can help address some of those by showing just how farmers are growing and raising food.”

The Redefined Mom, AKA Kelly Snyder, a blogger mom of two based in Kansas City, visited four Midwest farms to learn just how farmers and ranchers do what they do every day – and why. The videos also highlight new technology used on farms and ranches today, and address common misconceptions about food production. 


USFRA’s online video series is available on YouTube, and in the “Videos” section of USFRA’s website in the “How To Farm” section.

About U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.

For more information contact: Joanna Schroeder at or 636-751-5725.

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.