April 2, 2013 was proclaimed “Agriculture Day on the Hill” in Tennessee by Governor Bill Haslam. To celebrate the occasion, commodity groups and agriculture businesses from across Tennessee gathered in Nashville to help tell agriculture’s story to the legislature and people visiting the Legislative Plaza.
The halls inside the plaza were lined with informative and impressive booths touting agriculture’s top commodities and commodity groups, agricultural colleges and organizations that support the agriculture industry in Tennessee. And outside on the Legislative Plaza was a sight that had to be seen to be believed.
It’s not very often these days that you see cows, pigs, chickens, mules, sheep and goats munching on hay and feed in the middle of Nashville and especially at the entrance to the state legislature, but that is what passersby saw that Tuesday…and if they happened to walk by around 9:45, they also saw quite a crowd gathered to cheer on the rematch of Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in a milking contest. After last year’s challenge of milking goats, this year returned to the more traditional dairy cows for the contestants to milk, with Speaker Harwell milking a Brown Swiss named Giggles and Lt. Gov. Ramsey milking a Holstein named Rascal. It would seem the odds were in Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s favor, having grown up on a dairy farm and around animals all his life, while Speaker Harwell is a self-proclaimed city-girl; but in the end Speaker Harwell emerged the victor for the 2nd year in a row, narrowly pulling out a win over Ramsey. Pettus Read, president of the Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee, who sponsors and helps put on Ag Day on the Hill in conjunction with the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, presented Speaker Harwell with a trophy pail proclaiming her as a person “with a lot of pull” in Nashville and a $750 donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank in her name.
After those festivities, a standing-room only crowd gathered in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting, which, after dealing with the business for the day, showcased some of agriculture’s finest – including State 4-H Council Secretary Rachael Wolters and State FFA President Sarah Best, who each spoke eloquently on what their respective youth organizations have provided them and the youth of the state; Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson, who shared what a vital industry agriculture is to Tennessee and the impact it makes on the economy; and a very special recognition to Tennessee Farm Bureau’s own Director of Communications Pettus Read – who received a joint resolution signed by both Houses and the Governor honoring him for his many years of dedicated service to agriculture in Tennessee and his outstanding efforts to be the voice for the farmers across the state.