Tag Archives: farmers

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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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.

Lt. Gov. Ramsey — ‘instrumental in securing grant monies’ — gets Future Farmers Foundation honor

News release from Future Farmers of America Foundation:
NASHVILLE, TN – The Honorable Ron Ramsey recently accepted an invitation to join the Tennessee Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation, Inc. Sponsoring Committee.

The Tennessee FFA Foundation, Inc. Sponsoring Committee is a representation of FFA’s most prestigious and influential stakeholders who meet at least once annually to provide direction for the FFA Foundation. Their purpose is to garner support for FFA, raise funds to improve the programs offered within FFA and to provide a vision for sustaining the organization into the future.

Governor Ramsey was appointed to the committee by Foundation board chairman, Dr. Ben Byler, and was formally invited to join by fellow committee member Lacy Upchurch, President of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

Ramsey represents Senate District 2, which includes Johnson, Sullivan and a portion of Carter County. He was elected to the General Assembly as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1992, where he served two terms and was then elected to the state Senate in 1996, where he currently serves. In 2007, he became the first GOP Speaker of the Senate and Lieutenant Governor to be elected in 140 years.

Governor Ramsey has been instrumental in securing the grant monies received from the State for the past eight years. In addition, Ramsey has consistently welcomed the State FFA Officers onto the Senate floor during the annual FFA Goodwill Tour that occurs every February during National FFA Week.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Nationally, there are 579,678 FFA members, aged 12-21. The Tennessee FFA Association is comprised of more than 13,000 members from 213 high school chapters, seven middle school chapters and eight collegiate chapters across the state of Tennessee. To learn more about FFA visit www.tnffa.org.”

TN Department of Ag getting into hemp mode

An informational page has sprouted up on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s main website that digs into some of the questions and issues surrounding the legal status of industrial hemp cultivation in the Volunteer State, observes TNReport.

The page (HERE) also serves to get the ball rolling on the development of state regulations and licensing processes to allow Tennessee farmers to grow hemp, as the department has been directed by the Legislature.

“We fully intend to have a workable draft of rules and regulations within the next few weeks as we gather some more information and as we get input from subject-matter experts,” Tennessee Agriculture Department spokesman Tom Womack told TNReport.

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a law this past session legalizing strains of the cannabis family that don’t yield significant amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the naturally occurring psychoactive chemical chiefly responsible for producing intoxicating effects when the plant’s leaves and flowers are ingested.

In addition to removing low-THC varieties of cannabis from the state’s list of banned substances, the law declares that the Tennessee Department of Agriculture “shall oversee and annually license any grower who wishes to produce industrial hemp” and “develop rules and regulations concerning industrial hemp production.”

…The new law, sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, was approved on votes of 28-0 in the Senate and 88-5 in the House. It was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on May 13. The department has 120 days from that date to develop rules, begin taking formal comments on them and schedule a public hearing for further input and discussion, which officials anticipate happening over the summer.

“Informally, we are already receiving suggestions from people from other states, people are calling in with questions and suggestions, so it’s an open process,” said David Waddell, administrative manager for the department’s Consumer and Industry Services Division, which will handle hemp licensing and regulation. “Our goal is to have the whole program up and going so that folks will be able to plant a crop next year.”

Note: The draft of proposed new Department of Agriculture hemp rules is HERE.

Dairy Farmers Settle Lawsuit for $159 Million

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Southeastern dairy farmers from 14 states have reached a tentative settlement for nearly $159 million in their antitrust lawsuit against the Dairy Farmers of America over claims of dairy price controls.
The preliminary settlement heads off a civil trial that was to have begun Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.
The farmers claimed there was a conspiracy among major milk producers to drive down the prices they received for milk. The lawsuit was filed in July 2007 and the farmers have previously settled with Dean Foods and the Southern Marketing Agency.
An order issued Tuesday by Judge Ronnie Greer grants the dairies’ motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. Greer will conduct a hearing April 3 to consider final approval.
The lead attorney for the farmers, Robert Abrams of the law firm BakerHostetler, said in a news release that the southeast milk market has been reformed as a result of the settlement.
“The monetary recovery itself is very substantial and the resulting conduct changes will significantly and positively impact competition in the southeast dairy industry,” he said.
The law firm said in a statement that the last settlement brings the total amount for the farmers in the class action lawsuit to more than $300 million. The Dairy Farmers of America, a milk marketing cooperative, also agreed also to change some of its business practices in the southeast region to increase raw milk prices and boost transparency, the law firm said.
The settlement was first reported by The Greeneville Sun (http://bit.ly/Tg1KoO ).

Regulators Close TN Bank, Two in Other States

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators have seized 3 banks, one each in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, bringing to 31 the number of U.S. banks that have failed so far this year.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it closed Putnam State Bank in Palatka, Fla., Security Exchange Bank, in Marietta, Ga., and The Farmers Bank of Lynchburg, in Lynchburg, Tenn.
(Note: The Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions news release on the Lynchburg bank is at the end of this post.)
The FDIC lined up other lenders to assume the deposits and assets of each of the banks.

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More Counties Deemed Ag Disaster Areas

Release from the governor’s office:
Governor Bill Haslam announced today that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has designated 34 additional counties a natural disaster for agriculture as a result of drought and excessive heat during last year’s growing season.
Haslam requested the Secretarial designation earlier this month.
Counties designated as primary natural disaster areas include Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Crockett, Cumberland, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Gibson, Giles, Grundy, Haywood, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Johnson, Lake, Lawrence, Lincoln, Macon, Maury, Montgomery, Morgan, Obion, Robertson, Scott, Shelby, Smith, Stewart, Trousdale, Van Buren, Wayne, White and Wilson.
“Agriculture is an important industry in this state and contributes significantly to our rural economy. I’m pleased that USDA has acted on my request so promptly,” said Haslam. “I hope this assistance will help eligible farmers better prepare for the upcoming growing season.”
Today’s designation makes a total of 76 Tennessee counties that have been designated a primary natural disaster as a result of last year’s drought. The Secretarial disaster designation makes farmers in primary and adjoining counties eligible to apply for low-interest loans, supplemental farm payments and other assistance through their local USDA Farm Service Agency.
Adjoining counties where farmers are also eligible for assistance include Anderson, Bedford, Benton, Bledsoe, Campbell, Cannon, Carroll, Carter, Davidson, DeKalb, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Henry, Hickman, Lauderdale, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Sullivan, Sumner, Tipton, Warren, Weakley and Williamson.
Farmers in affected counties reported crop losses generally ranging from 30 to 50 percent, and higher in some cases, for corn, soybeans, cotton, hay and specialty crops. Livestock producers also reported feeding winter stocks of hay earlier than normal last year.
For the latest information on last year’s crop harvest, visit the USDA-NASS Tennessee Field Office website at www.nass.usda.gov/tn. A complete list of designated counties can be found at http://www.fema.gov/dhsusda/searchState.do.