Tag Archives: agriculture

Trump names Tipton County farmer as Ag advisor

From a Politico report:

Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled a list of agricultural advisers brimming with Republican heavy hitters, including Govs. Sam Brownback and Terry Branstad and several top farm-state lawmakers in a move that seemed aimed at quelling criticisms he is relying on a mostly third-string team.

The New York City real estate mogul’s rural and agriculture advisory committee — comprising 65 people — is a Who’s Who of farm policy, with five members of Congress, including the chairmen of the House and Senate agriculture committees, 10 current and former farm-state governors and two former GOP presidential nomination rivals, former Govs. Rick Perry and Jim Gilmore.

It’s an astoundingly mainstream roster for a candidate who seized the nomination on a wave of anti-establishment fury, splintering the party along the way.

There’s one Tennessean on the list: Charlotte Kelley of Tipton County, a former county commissioner, who, along with husband Richard, farms 14,000 acres of cotton and operates a cotton gin in Burlison, according to Michael Collins.

Tom Womack named deputy Ag commissioner

News release from Department of Agriculture
NASHVILLE– With nearly 30 years of experience working for the state, Tom Womack will continue his service in a new role as Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Commissioner-Appointee Jai Templeton made the announcement today, with an effective date of May 1.

“I am delighted that Tom has accepted the appointment,” Templeton said. “He has given his career to this department and the industry I hold so dear. For almost three decades, Tom has been a confidant to Tennessee’s Commissioners of Agriculture. He knows the department and its people, as well the various constituencies, stakeholders and citizens we serve. He has their confidence and will continue to build strong relationships.”
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Templeton named TN agriculture commissioner

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Jai Templeton, a sixth generation Tennessee farmer, as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture effective May 1. Templeton will replace Julius Johnson who last week announced his retirement.

Templeton, 44, currently serves as the department’s deputy commissioner, leading the day-to-day operations and directing programs and services that range from food safety to animal and plant health to agricultural development.

“Jai has played a critical role in developing the department’s 10 year strategic plan to grow Tennessee’s agricultural and forest industries. As a lifelong farmer, he will be a champion for the farming industry and continue the department’s work to strengthen our rural communities,” Haslam said. Continue reading

House beats Senate in corny competition

House Speaker Beth Harwell’s team defeated Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s team for the second year in a corn shelling competition held as part of “Agriculture Day on the Hill. This follows two years of House team victories in milking contests that were the standard before “Ag Day” became corny competition for the House and Senate.

From the Tennessean’s account:

House Speaker Beth Harwell and her bipartisan team of corn shellers have got a good thing going.

The three-member team, including Harwell and Reps. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, narrowly edged a Senate team led by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to retain a golden trophy commemorating the annual competition.

Although Harwell lost a coin toss resulting in her team going first, her squad bested Ramsey’s, which included Sens. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains — who was wearing coveralls on top of his regular garb — after shelling 16 pounds of corn. The Senate team, who jokingly accused Harwell’s team of cheating in last year’s competition, managed to shell 15.8 pounds.

Note: Cheating allegations are nothing new to House-Senate contests, both during “Ag Day” and otherwise. A post on the Ag Day scandal of 2012 is HERE.

Julius Johnson retiring as state Ag commissioner

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson will retire at the end of April.

Johnson has led the department since the start of the administration in 2011 and was Haslam’s first commissioner appointment. He has been instrumental in development of the Governor’s Rural Challenge: a 10 year strategic plan to grow Tennessee’s agricultural and forest industries. Under Johnson’s leadership, many goals of the plan have already been met and foundations laid for future projects.
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Senators vote to cut UT diversity, boost agriculture

The Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday to strip the University of Tennessee’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion of all but its federal funding and to transfer $8 million from the university’s administration into its agricultural extension service and rural outreach programs.

Further from the News-Sentinel:

The committee approved an amendment by its chairwoman, Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, to the UT budget submitted by Gov. Bill Haslam that would have the effect of defunding the diversity office at UT Knoxville – the target of conservative ire since a pair of controversial web posts regarding gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive holiday parties. The panel’s action isn’t final: it will require concurrence by the full Senate and the House before it could go into effect.

Anthony Haynes, UT’s vice president for government relations and advocacy, said after the meeting that university officials “certainly understand the motivation behind the amendment.”

“We’re hopeful that we can work it out before we pass the final budget in April,” Haynes said.

The amendment’s approval followed an earlier 2½-hour hearing by the House education committees on diversity issues at UT and the Tennessee Board of Regents system.

As passed, the amendment:

Transfers $5 million from the funds appropriated to UT Knoxville to the UT Agricultural Extension Service for its programs and services. That’s the amount that the office of diversity and inclusion currently receives annually: $1.3 million on compliance and reporting activities dealing with federal law, and $3.7 million for campus diversity programming.

Declares that “only federal funds shall be expended to support the office of diversity and inclusion” at UT Knoxville.

Transfers $3 million from funds appropriated for administration and salaries on the Knoxville campus to UT Chattanooga and UT Martin (at $1.5 million each) “for the sole purpose of rural outreach programs.”

Gresham owns a cattle farm in Fayette County and faces a re-election challenge in this year’s Republican primary by Savannah Mayor Bob Shutt, who has said he’s running to bring more rural development to the eight-county 26th Senate District.

Animal protection group rates TN legislators

News release from Tennessee Voters for Animal Protection
NASHVILLE, NOVEMBER 5, 2015 – Tennessee Voters for Animal Protection (TVAP), a non-partisan, grassroots political action committee, released their annual Legislative Report and Scorecard today, which summarizes how the 109th General Assembly performed this year with regard to animal protection issues in Tennessee.

“This year we have great news to share about four animal-protection bills that were proposed and passed in the Tennessee General Assembly,” said Payton Robbins, TVAP’s Legislative Liaison. “These four bills—aimed at establishing an animal abuse registry, rescuing a distressed animal from a vehicle, increasing penalties for animal fighting and increasing penalties for killing a service animal—passed with large majorities in both the House and the Senate.”

Passing this many animal-friendly bills in one session hasn’t always been the case. “Year after year, some legislators were going against the will of their constituents by killing these bills in the Agriculture Committees,” said Robbins. “Last year, TVAP started an online petition asking that animal-related bills be given a fair hearing and thousands of concerned Tennesseans signed our petition. The result has been a very positive one,” said Robbins.

There were also more sponsors and co-sponsors of animal-friendly bills than ever. Those receiving the highest scores were Sen. Steven Dickerson, Sen. Ferrell Haile, Rep. Darren Jernigan, Sen. Bill Ketron, Rep. Jon Lundberg, and Rep. Art Swann. Those receiving the lowest scores were Rep. Kelly Keisling, Sen. Frank Niceley, and Rep. Rick Womick.

Tennessee Voters for Animal Protection is a political action committee that endorses humaneminded candidates, raises funds from concerned citizens to donate to political campaigns, and organizes volunteers to campaign for humane-minded candidates in Tennessee. For more information, please visit www.tnanimalprotection.org.

Note: Download the group’s legislative scorecard HERE. It’s a pretty hefty file.

Lacy Upchurch exits as TN Farm Bureau president

Tennessee Farm Bureau President W. Lacy Upchurch announced Monday he will not seek another term as leader of the nation’s largest farm bureau, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.

Upchurch was elected in 2005 to lead the farm bureau, which is headquartered in Columbia and employs 700 there, and has been a strong advocate for farming and agriculture in the state. The beef cattle producer, who lives on a farm in Cumberland County with his wife, Kay, was the seventh president in the organization’s 94-year history.

“After much thought and prayer, I have decided not to seek another term,” Upchurch said. “My heart, however, will always be with Farm Bureau and the Christian principles that make this organization strong.

“I’ve been blessed to work with an effective state board, staff and many others who have contributed to what we have been able to do. Part of me would love to stay and continue to serve, but I feel strongly about knowing when to pass the torch. Kay and I have a farm calling us home, children and grandchildren to spend time with and hopefully an opportunity to work more in our church and community.”

Membership has grown by more than 38,000 during Upchurch’s presidency. He will be replaced at the Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, Dec. 7-8 in Franklin.

Legislator says state going overboard in warnings against raw milk

A state legislator who pushed legalization of “cow share” raw milk marketing in Tennessee contends the state Department of Health has gone overboard in continued warnings to consumers that nonpasteurized milk can be dangerous.

“Consuming raw milk in the belief it’s healthier than pasteurized milk is a perilous risk that shakes off the possibility of a range of serious and occasionally fatal illnesses for the individuals and anyone they share it with,” said state Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner in a July 21 news release. “Our best choice for healthy, nutritious milk is the pasteurized kind. Even if one believes there are health benefits, an upside, is it worth gambling on the downside risk of a serious illness, especially in a child?”

The release (Note: posted HERE) says the department has confirmed two cases of cryptosporidiosis in the Chattanooga area that are “associated with consumption of raw milk from a dairy cow share program” and is checking to determine if others were sickened as well.

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, said there is no more risk to raw milk than pasteurized milk and probably less. Cryptosporidiosis is a parasite-caused ailment linked to animal waste and, according to Niceley, more often to beef cattle than milk cattle. In any case, he said, it involves exposure to the waste and not to the drinking of raw milk in and of itself.

“Blue Bell ice cream killed three people, and it’s made with pasteurized milk,” the senator said in an interview last week. “Why aren’t they up in arms warning about that?”

Blue Bell Creameries in April announced a nationwide recall of ice cream after reports of the product being contaminated with listeria bacteria. National media has reported that three deaths in Kansas appear linked to the contamination.
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TN Health commissioner: Don’t drink raw milk, even though it’s legal

News release from state Department of Health
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health is investigating multiple gastrointestinal disease reports among people who say they consumed raw milk prior to their illness. TDH has confirmed two cases of cryptosporidiosis in individuals in the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Region. Both cases of illness are associated with consumption of raw milk from a dairy cow share program. TDH is interviewing additional participants in the program to determine if other people have been sickened. In recent months, TDH has interviewed individuals about sporadic cases of Campylobacter and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli who also reported consuming raw milk from different sources.

“Consuming raw milk in the belief it’s healthier than pasteurized milk is a perilous risk that shakes off the possibility of a range of serious and occasionally fatal illnesses for the individuals and anyone they share it with,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Our best choice for healthy, nutritious milk is the pasteurized kind. Even if one believes there are health benefits, an upside, is it worth gambling on the downside risk of a serious illness, especially in a child?”

Cow share programs were made legal in Tennessee in 2009, allowing wider access to raw milk. Since that time TDH has had increasing reports of disease and outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption. In 2013, nine Tennessee children became extremely sick with E. coli O157 after drinking raw milk. Five of these children required hospitalization and three developed severe, life-threatening kidney problems.

“The Department of Agriculture has a thorough dairy inspection program focused on detecting potential health risks before milk reaches the consumer,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Legal pasteurization through a licensed dairy facility is the only way to ensure that dairy products are safe to consume. Despite a producer’s best intentions, without pasteurization, bacteria exposure is a real danger.”
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