Ag News

TN Farm Bureau News - September 2014 issue

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Flip through the pages of the latest issue of Farm Bureau News, a bi-monthly newspaper focusing on agricultural issues – from what’s happening around your community to what’s going on at the legislature. Classified ads also make it easy for members to market what they have to sell. Read here -

Tennessee Names Kleppers Young Farmer of the Year

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Greene County young farm couple Mark and Cindy Klepper were named Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farmer and Achievement Award winners during special ceremonies at the Tennessee Young Farmer Summer Conference. The young row crop, cattle and poultry farmers from the Baileyton community, competed against 14 other county contestants in state competition held at the headquarter offices of the Tennessee Farm Bureau in Columbia, Tenn., to be named the state winners and have the opportunity to compete for national honors in January.
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 Klepper family receives 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.

For more information, contact Melissa Bratton, editor TN Farm Bureau News.

Summer Picnic Still Costs Less Than $6 per Person

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An all-American Fourth of July picnic of the nation’s favorite foods including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk will cost slightly more this year but still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bureau’s informal survey reveals the average cost for a summer picnic for 10 is $58.72, or $5.87 per person. That’s about a 5-percent increase compared to a year ago.

“Despite some modest price increases over the past year or so – meats, especially – most Americans should be able to find summer picnic foods at prices close to the averages found by our volunteer shoppers,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist at AFBF.

“Retail meat prices are higher compared to a year ago because the nation’s cattle herd is now at a historically small level,” Anderson said. “The total number of hogs farmers across the nation are raising is also down, which has contributed to higher retail prices for pork products.”

Although consumers will pay a bit more for their Independence Day picnics, finding delectable meat cuts and ingredients for side dishes will not be a problem.

“As a nation, we continue to enjoy a consistent, high-quality supply of meats and poultry that can be grilled or prepared any number of different ways. The whole array of home-grown foods Americans typically enjoy in the summer also is in plentiful supply,” he said.

AFBF’s summer picnic menu for 10 consists of hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, deli potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, lemonade, chocolate milk, watermelon for dessert, and ketchup and mustard.

A total of 84 Farm Bureau members (volunteer shoppers) in 25 states checked retail prices for summer picnic foods at their local grocery stores for this informal survey.

The July Fourth Picnic Survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey and two “everyday” marketbasket surveys on common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home. A squad of Farm Bureau members across the nation checks retail prices at local grocery stores for the marketbasket surveys. AFBF published its first marketbasket survey in 1986.

AFBF is the nation’s largest general farm organization with member families in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Learn more at or follow @FarmBureau on Twitter.

July 4th Picnic for 10 Costs 3 More Clams

Items 2013 price 2014 price % Change
American cheese slices, 16 (1-pound package) 2.73 3.12 +14.3
Ground round (pre-cooked weight), 2 pounds 7.86 8.91 +13.4
Pork spare ribs, 4 pounds 12.29 13.91 +13.2
Chocolate milk (pre-mixed), 2 quarts 2.62 2.82 +7.6
Mustard, 16-ounce bottle 1.23 1.25 +1.6
Watermelon, 4 pounds 5.61 5.68 +1.2
Package of hamburger buns 1.67 1.68 +0.60
Ketchup, 20-ounce bottle 1.55 1.36 -12.3
Lemonade (pre-mixed), 2 quarts 2.07 2.00 -3.4
Package of hot dog 2.29 2.23 -2.6
Baked beans, 28-ounce can 1.99 1.96 -1.5
Package of hot dog buns 1.64 1.63 -.60
Deli potato salad, 3 pounds 8.77 8.80 -.30
Corn chips, 15-ounce bag 3.37 3.37 No change
TOTAL 55.69 58.72 +5.4


Contacts:   Will Rodger
(202) 406-3642
  Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649

Governor Proclaims July Beef Month in Tennessee

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Join Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee’s hardworking cattle farmers in celebrating beef this July.

More than just producing a tasty, nutritious product, the state’s cattle farmers are stewards of the land and do their best to serve the community and care for their animals. The beef they serve to others is the same they serve to their families, so there’s no cutting corners.

Tennessee cattle producer Mel Maxwell knows the value of working together with other producers.

“One of the strong traits of farmers is we’re independent folks, but we’ve laid that aside, and we’ve banded together, establishing rules, so several small producers like myself can put together a nice truckload of cattle,” says Maxwell of Cookeville, Tennessee.

Those truckloads of look-alike cattle mean bigger profits for producers and make cattle production big business in the state.

Maxwell, who used to travel the 100 miles from Knoxville to Cookeville every weekend to help his father with the family operation, eventually decided he loved raising cattle more than any other job. He’s now a retired farmer, but still helps with the cattle operation and serves as president-elect of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association.

Read more.

Farm Watch receives donation from Farm Bureau

Friday, June 27, 2014
Dyersburg State Gazette

When the Dyer County Farm Watch was implemented in March of 2013, the pilot program was a formed partnership consisting of local farmers, landowners, agribusinesses, as well as governmental and law agencies.

Since it's inception more than a year ago, the watch has amassed over $23,000 in donations from individuals as well as businesses tired of falling victim to crime in rural areas of the county. The majority of those donations came starting in March of 2014.

"The first year was spent planning, organizing and getting all our paperwork in order. That in itself was a lot of work, but it's been well worth it," said local farmer and committee member Shane Burchfiel. "We've received several donations from individuals as well as businesses, and through those donations we've been able to be proactive in certain ways to prevent these crimes from happening."

The latest donation to the pilot program, a $15,000 gift from the home office of Farm Bureau Insurance in Columbia, will go toward the continued upgrades in technology to assist local law enforcement agencies in their effort to curb the theft and vandalism of farm equipment.

Coming forth with the largest donation to date, the state office of Farm Bureau Insurance was pleased to be able to lend a hand to aid in the efforts of those involved with the Dyer County Farm Watch.

"We feel like this program will help cut down on the crime that our farming communities are facing with thefts and vandalism. We are impressed with the work and organization of the Dyer County Farm Watch committee, and wanted to be a part of it. Farm Bureau Insurance is committed to the agriculture community and we are proud that we could help," said Kevin Howe, regional agency manager.

Dyer County Farm Bureau Agency Manager Kent Morris echoed the words of Howe, saying, "We are extremely proud that our insurance company recognizes the potential the Farm Watch program has to impact our local farmers and farming community. We pride ourselves in being a part of the local community and are glad our company is supporting this grassroots program."

Since being implemented in 2013, the pilot program has seen encouraging results as agriculture crime continues to decrease according to Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box.

"In the past year we've arrested between 20 and 25 criminals through the technology we've been able to use thanks to these donations," said Box. "The majority of those crimes would have gone undetected if not for the watch program, so it's definitely working the way it's supposed to."

Since the watch was initiated, agricultural crimes are being classified as such instead of how things were before when they were simply listed along with other crimes.

Box said that while there is still criminal activity going on when it comes to farm equipment, through the farm watch things are getting better and better all the time.

"Ag crimes are definitely on the decline in Dyer County, and the arrest and recovery rates are now higher than ever before," added Box. "The decline proves that the farm watch is working and we're going to continue to add security measures in the future to make sure those crimes continue to decline."

State Introduces New Mobile App for Farms, Farmers Markets

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A “Pick Tennessee” mobile app is now available which can find and then map the way to locally grown farm products, farms and farmers markets. The free app, downloadable from both iTunes for Apple products and from Google Play for Android devices, is the latest advancement of Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products promotion.

“I’m proud to introduce this new face of an old friend,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Pick Tennessee Products has thrived for 28 years not only by providing real and valuable services, but also by having the flexibility to adapt to change—changing cultures, consumer demands, and technology."

“Our government services must anticipate needs not just for the current year, but for 15 years down the road. With the new Pick Tennessee mobile app, we now reach consumers where they already expect to find us—on their phones and other digital devices.”

The Pick Tennessee mobile app allows users to search by item, like “apples,” by region of the state, or season. The mobile app then provides directions to the chosen location through direct GPS mapping.

“Every Tennessee farmer or farm product producer who sells directly to the public can visit the Pick Tennessee Products website and apply to become part of this extraordinary free service,” Johnson said. “If a farm is listed on Pick Tennessee Products, that farm is automatically available on the new Pick Tennessee mobile app for GPS mapping.”

The Pick Tennessee mobile app can keep track of favorites and provides links to seasonal recipes, handy tips and fun facts, as well as the full Pick Tennessee Products website. Farm direct and local items on the app include options as varied as local fruits and vegetables, wineries, greenhouses and plant nurseries, Christmas tree farms, and local honey. The items can be searched by the farm where they’re produced, or the markets where they’re sold.

Pick Tennessee Products is the longstanding state campaign to connect customers to locally grown or made products and farm-related activities. The Pick Tennessee Products site,, also posts directories of the state’s county fairs, equine trails and services, local meats and dairies, and agritourism farms and activities of all kinds.

Going live in 1995, the Pick Tennessee Products site was the state of Tennessee’s first consumer Web presence and continues to be TDA’s information gateway for consumers and for marketing related producer programs. The site, a completely free service, currently features close to 2,000 participating farms, processors and other ag and farm businesses, listing about 10,000 individual items. It attracted more than 300,000 visits last year. 

“This entire promotion is a completely free service to our producers and ag industry, on the Web, in print and broadcast, and now, through the full range of social media,” Johnson said. “Pick Tennessee Products now has a new look and, but more important, it provides greater services for our farmers and rural economies.”

Follow Pick Tennessee Products on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

2014 4-H Congress Officers Elected

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Since its beginning in 1948, Congress has given more than 33,900 4-H’ers and volunteer leaders firsthand experience in state government. 4-H Congress is truly a citizenship experience. In addition to experiencing life in the state capital, 4-H members learn about civic engagement, including state government, service to others and the election process. At Congress 4-H members serve as a 4-H senator or representative and form a “junior” state Congress.

Each year one of the Congress highlights is the election of officers when delegates actually get to use voting machines to select their own  State 4-H Congress Governor, Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House. A regional caucus is held on Sunday night to nominate candidates to run for office. Following nominations, the election goes into full swing. Installation of the new officers is held at the final banquet on Tuesday night. This year's elected officers were Governor - Tony Eskridge from Shelby County; Speaker of the Senate - Haile Adams from Warren County and Speaker of the House of Representatives - Andy Huffer from Moore County.

While in the state capitol, delegates to Tennessee 4-H Congress have the opportunity to sit in the seat of their elected officials to the state legislature and actually vote on a bill.  They also have the opportunity to state their views and try to influence their peers regarding the bills introduced during the "Know Your Government" sessions of Congress.

Two 4-H senators who are senior Level I 4-H members (9-10th graders) may attend from each county. 4-H representatives, one senior Level I 4-H member representing each 1,700 or major fraction thereof of the total county enrollment and one senior Level I 4-H member for each 60 or major fraction thereof of the total county senior enrollment make up the remaining delegates.

2014-2015 FFA State Officers Elected

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The 86th State FFA Convention was recently held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The two-and-a-half day convention was full of Career Development Events, leadership seminars, inspirational keynote addresses and recognition of student's accomplishments. At the last session, a new slate of state FFA officers were elected to serve the Tennessee FFA Association over the next year.

Top left: Treasurer - Amy Morgan, Cookeville; Sentinel - Shelby Day, Oakland; Middle TN Vice President - Susan Cowley, Lincoln County; West TN Vice President - Elena Smith, Munford; Reporter - Victoria Utsman, Daniel Boone. Bottom Row: President - Kevin Robertson, Wilson Central; East TN Vice President - Coty Vannoy, Chucky-Doak; and Secretary - Nick Baker, Baxter.

The Convention was filled with students fulfilling their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success as their passions were ignited for agricultural education and their futures.  More than 500 State FFA Degrees were handed out in the final session on Wednesday, showcasing juniors andd seniors who have achieved the hours, knowledge and skills necessary to achieve this highest degree Tennessee can offer an FFA member. Greg Peterson, of the famous singing Peterson Farm Brothers, was the opening session keynote speaker and inspired convention attendees to tell their story in unconventional ways and Mitch Baker, National FFA Secretary, motivated the students to create their own adventures every day in his keynote address on Tuesday. 

Congratulations to all students winning Career Development Events!
FFA Ceremonies - Munford FFA Chapter
Parliamentary Procedure - Munford FFA Chapter
Star Greenhand Award - Juliana White, McEwen
Creed Speaking - Juliana White, McEwen
Star in Agriscience - Cory Wright, Munford
Job Interview - Emily White, Daniel Boone
Star in Agricultural Placement - Megan Aiosa, Paris
Extemporaneous Speaking - Madison Shultz, East Robertson
Prepared Public Speaking - Catherine Moore, Dyersburg
Star in Agribusiness - Arianne Stearns, Brighton
Star Farmer - Reed Hester, Dyer County

Ag Day on the Hill a Success

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Tennessee lawmakers celebrated Ag Day on the Hill March 25 at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Gov. Bill Haslam proclaimed it “Agriculture Day” in Tennessee as part of the annual national observance to recognize the important contributions of farmers and forestland owners to the state and nation.

Ag Day on the Hill activities included the popular milking contest between Senate and House members, a cattle-weighing contest, farm animals, crops and equipment, and new this year, a silent auction to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and Tennessee’s Ag in the Classroom educational program.

The event also featured for the first time the Drive to Feed the World Tour, a unique, interactive road show traveling the nation to heighten awareness about world hunger and sustainable food production.

Festivities kicked off at 8 a.m.,  with the milking contest taking place at 9 a.m. Special presentations to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee were presented at 10:30 a.m. The winner of the cattle-weighing contest, announced during the committee meeting, received a Pick Tennessee Products gift basket.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee also had collection bins available at Legislative Plaza throughout the day. Participants and visitors donated nonperishable items for donation. The Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee organization also presented a check to Second Harvest in honor of the milking contest winner as part of the day's festivities.

Tennessee has 76,000 farms representing 10.8 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco and hay. The industry has a $66 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports nearly 337,900 jobs.

Tennessee Young Farmers Win National Honors

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During the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Tennessee Young Farmers & Ranchers took home honors in the Achievement Award and Excellence in Agriculture competitions. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award Brandon and Katherine Whitt of Rutherford County receive either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM. The Whitts will also receive paid registration to attend the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia in February.

The Whitts farm over 1900 acres in the surrounding Blackman and Murfreesboro area of Rutherford County in an owner/partnership operation. Their major crops are soybeans, wheat, corn and strawberries. They market over 800 head of hogs a year mostly through retail outlets consisting of 4,000 pounds of meat monthly by on farm retail, restaurants and farmers markets.

Both Brandon and Katherine have been very active in the Young Farmer and Rancher program, as well as the Rutherford County Farm Bureau and community. Brandon has served as the state YF&R committee chairman, a member of the TFBF Board of Directors, American Farm Bureau PAL scholarship participant and held numerous county YF&R leadership positions. Katherine is active on numerous YF&R committees as well as several community organizations. The Whitts have three children with number four due in March.

The Achievement 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.

Chuck Yoest and Jennifer Hatcher of Williamson County, Tennessee were named runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture Award. They will a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

Chuck and Jennifer, along with Jennifer’s family, operate Hatcher Family Dairy, where they have their own creamery and sell seven different types of milk, butter, egg nog, gelato, farm fresh eggs and meat as well as sell those products locally to restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets.  Chuck is employed with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency as Big Game Coordinator and Jennifer is a veterinarian with her father in the family’s Rock N Country veterinarian practice, and they are actively involved in their county YF&R program, their community and church.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Michael Shirley of Rutherford County represented Tennessee in the Discussion Meet at the national level and after two rounds of competition, was selected to compete in the Sweet 16 round.  The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected.  Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

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For more information contact: Melissa Bratton, Editor, TN Farm Bureau News & Tennessee Home and Farm Magazine (931) 388-7872 ext. 2521,