Tennessee Farm Bureau Hosts Agriculture U.S. Senate Forum

Click the image to view larger.
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

Click the image to view larger.

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

Click the image to view larger.

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”

Click the image to view larger.

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.

TN Farm Bureau News - September 2014 issue

Click the image to view larger.

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

Click the image to view larger.

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

Click the image to view larger.

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

Click the image to view larger.

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

Click the image to view larger.

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.