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Rural Routes

Commissioner Julius JohnsonDear Friends,
The past couple of months have been very significant for agriculture.
First, I’m pleased to report that Governor Haslam has included the restoration of full funding for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program in his budget proposal to the General Assembly. With the legislature’s support, this will allow us to make more investments in farm and rural development projects at a pivotal juncture in our state’s economic recovery.
Secondly, the Governor’s proposed budget also places our Agricultural Crime Unit back on recurring funding. This unit performs specialized investigative work, including wildfire arson and livestock theft. It’s critical that we continue providing these safety and security services for our rural communities.
Third, I was pleased to join Governor Haslam and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty for the announcement of state and federal funding for the Cates Landing project in Northwest Tennessee. A deep water port along the Mississippi will help pave the way for more rural jobs and better market access for our farmers.
We’re fortunate to have a strong and diverse agricultural industry in Tennessee. I hope you’ll join me on May 3 as we celebrate Ag Day on the Hill at Legislative Plaza in Nashville and all that our farm families and forestland owners have to offer.
Julius Johnson

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TDA Weights & Measures inspector collects fuel quality sampleTennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program Applications Now Available
TDA has released the 2011 application for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. Applications can be submitted June 1-7 and should not be postmarked prior to June 1. Applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis, so producers are encouraged to apply early.
“The Ag Enhancement Program is a very important economic development tool for our farmers and rural communities,” said Governor Bill Haslam. “This program has been successful in providing more opportunities for farmers to participate, increasing farm income and generating additional economic activity in our rural areas.”
This year’s program offers the same menu of cost share opportunities as last year. This includes the livestock equipment, cattle genetics, hay storage, feed storage, grain storage and producer diversification opportunities. To date, TAEP has provided cost share funds for more than 21,000 projects.

TAEP was established in 2005 and supported by the General Assembly to increase farm income by helping farmers invest in better farming practices and by encouraging diversification and innovation. Through TAEP, farmers can qualify for 35 or 50 percent cost share, ranging from a maximum of $1,200 to $15,000 depending on the project.

Applications are available at most farm agencies including USDA Farm Service Agency, UT Extension and Farm Bureau offices, as well as most farm supply stores. To ensure accuracy, producers are encouraged to work with their local extension agent or local TDA representative when completing the application.
Producers can get important messages and updates on the program by calling 1-800-342-8206. For more information or to download an application, visit

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Animal Health Alert: Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis, often called ‘Trich’, is a venereal disease of cattle, and there is strong evidence that trich is an increasing threat to Tennessee cattle by importation of bulls from states having the disease. To address this growing concern, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has developed importation rules for out of state incoming bulls requiring non-virgin bulls to go through a trich testing protocol. The Tennessee Cattleman’s Association at their recent annual convention in January passed a resolution in support of this initiative.

Trichomoniasis can cause infertility and abortions, and results in extended breeding seasons and diminished calf crops, which costs livestock producers valuable income. View the Order

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Emerald Ash BorerState Honors 2010 Walking Horse World Grand Champion
Commissioner Johnson, recently honored 2010 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion owners Robert Kilgore of Tuscaloosa, Ala. , Neal Holland Jr. of Decatur, Ala. and Joe Barnes of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Also honored was trainer Billy Gray of Shelbyville, Tenn.
Johnson recognized the owners and trainer during a reception of industry leaders and supporters at Ellington Agricultural Center. Johnson represented Governor Bill Haslam at the event which has become a tradition to recognize the contributions of the Walking Horse industry to the state.
Marty Irby, President of the Tennessee Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, presented the official portrait of World Grand Champion “The Coach” to Johnson. The portrait, by photographer Jack Greene will be on display in the Moss Administration Building at Ellington Agricultural Center.
“I am honored on behalf of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association to present this portrait of the 2010 World Grand Champion “The Coach,” said Irby at the event.
Representatives of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association and the National Celebration joined Johnson in recognizing the guests of honor.
The 73rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration® is slated for Aug. 24 – Sept. 3. The Celebration® is the longest continuously-running event in the state of Tennessee. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association.
For more information on the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, visit For more information on the National Celebration ®, visit

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Community GardenTrapping Gets Underway for Tree Pest in East Tennessee
Purple three-sided traps that resemble a box kite can be seen in ash trees in Knox, Loudon and surrounding counties in the next few months as part of a surveillance program by state and federal agencies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) are partnering to survey for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada. University of Tennessee Extension is also involved in the survey and detection program. EAB was first discovered in the state last summer at a truck stop along I-40 in Knox County.
The goal of the trapping program is to assess the extent of the infestation and to locate new infestations for possible treatment and quarantine. Approximately 4,500 traps will be placed in trees within a 50-mile radius of the Knox county infestation.

“The triangular purple traps pose no risk to humans, pets, or wildlife; however, the non-toxic glue can be extremely sticky,” said USDA Acting State Plant Health Director, Ken Copley. “It’s important people understand that the traps don’t attract or pull beetles into an area, but rather they are a detection tool to help find EAB if it is present in the area.”

Currently, Knox and Loudon counties are under a state and federal EAB Quarantine. This means that no hardwood firewood, ash logs, ash seedlings, ash bark and other regulated articles can be moved outside these counties or outside of the state without a certification.

At times, traps can be blown out of the trees. To report a trap that is down, contact the national EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512 or visit For more information about EAB in Tennessee, contact TDA at 1-800-628-2631 or visit

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Community GardenA Season for CSAs
CSAs or Community Supported Agricluture are a growing segment in Tennessee agriculture. This increasingly popular direct growing and purchasing relationship gives producers a stable income and the fairest return on their products. CSAs also keep food dollars—and beautiful farmlands-- in the local community.

When you joined a CSA, consumers pay the farmer up front, before the growing season begins, which allows the farmer to buy the necessary seed, fertilizer, fuel and other inputs necessary to farm for the year. Then, when crops start coming in, your fresh, local food is already bought and paid for. You might go out to the farm to pick up the food or just meet the farmer at a drop-off site in the community.

“Typically, a consumer who joins a CSA purchases a ‘share’ or a ‘half-share’ of the producer’s harvest in advance of the production season. Cost for a full-share averages about $25 per week, but what constitutes a share depends on what the particular farm produces. Farmers usually provide a weekly half-bushel box of produce for a full share or a bi-weekly box for a half share at a convenient pick-up spot in the customer’s area.
A spring-summer CSA share usually lasts about 25 weeks, from late May until early November. Consumers can expect to find “cool weather” crops like broccoli, asparagus, collards, turnips, lettuces, beets, onions and radishes in early and late shares. By July and through mid-September, CSA members can expect their share boxes to include tomatoes, corn, eggplant, squash, peppers, green beans, watermelons, cantaloupes, potatoes and even blackberries or other fruits. Some herbs may be available year round, and many are bountiful throughout Tennessee’s long growing season.
To find a CSA in your area, visit

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Tennessee Celebrates Arbor Day
In March, Governor Bill Haslam signed a proclamation declaring March 4, as Arbor Day. Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. This year’s state celebration will be held in Cleveland, a Tree City USA community.
Cleveland earned the honor of hosting this year’s State Arbor Day celebration by being recognized as the state of Tennessee’s Tree Board of the Year in 2010. A tree board is a group of local citizens with an interest and concern for their community’s trees. They are appointed by the city to advise and assist in caring for trees in the community, and are a requirement for achieving Tree City USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. A number of state Arbor Days are celebrated at different times of the year to coincide with the best tree planting weather. Tennessee celebrates Arbor Day the first Friday of March every year.

For more information on the Tennessee Division of Forestry, visit For more information on Arbor Day, visit

Video of the Event in Cleveland, Tenn.

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April 29 Homefront to Heartland Conference, Nashville
May 3 Ag Day on the Hill, Legislative Plaza, Nashville
June 1-30 National Dairy Month
June 1-7 Ag Enhancement Applications Due

Ellington Agricultural Center | 440 Hogan Road | Nashville, TN 37220