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Rural Routes

Commissioner Julius JohnsonListening Sessions Spark Call to Action

New technology, international trade and infrastructure were what we heard at our first round of farm and forestry listening sessions in April and May. I want to thank all of our hosts and the more than 300 farmers and landowners who participated in the meetings. We had a tremendous kickoff in Bradley County which carried through to our visits to Weakley, Coffee, Lawrence, Cumberland and Wayne counties.

Through this process, it became abundantly clear to me that we need to help farmers invest and take advantage of new technology in order to help them remain competitive in today's market. The economic and environmental benefits of precision farming are numerous and we are taking a look at how we can support the adoption of this and other technology on the farm. International trade and the ability to move products through our river system and around the globe are as important to our forest industry as it is to agriculture. We will continue to look for ways to help brand Tennessee products and to push for maintenance of our transportation infrastructures that are so important to agri-commerce.

We look forward to another round of listening sessions in the fall so stay tuned for an announcement about future dates and locations. In the meantime, please contact the department any time you have comments or suggestions on how we can improve our services. We want to be available, and we're always listening!


Julius Johnson

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TDA Weights & Measures inspector collects fuel quality sampleMake the Tennessee State Fair Your Pick This Year

"Pick Tennessee State Fair" is this year's theme for the fair which will be held September 7-16 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and they are looking for volunteers. People who are enthusiastic, friendly and passionate about agriculture, creative arts, industry or community can be a part of something special by ensuring that this year's fair is a success.

According to event manager Kelsey Ross, volunteers can qualify for free tickets and other benefits, but more importantly they are guaranteed a rewarding experience. "Now is the time for people to get involved, as we work to make the Tennessee State Fair a true state fair," Ross said. "Anyone who is on board now, or comes on board in the next couple years, as a volunteer will have the privilege of seeing changes made that will impact not only the fair, but hopefully our state in the future." For more information about volunteering at the 2012 Tennessee State Fair, visit

Ross says this year's fair promises to be exciting with new events and activities including the Green Collar Exhibition, which will feature organics, energy, and urban agriculture; as well as a lecture series covering all of these topics.

Tennessee Poultry and Junior Dairy show exhibitors will receive an invitation to participate in the Champion of Champions at the 2012 Tennessee State Fair upon winning champion in their breed or division at a local county fair. The goal is to expand Champion of Champions to all livestock shows over the next several years. The equestrian arena is also new this year and will feature an equine event each of the 10 nights of the fair.

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State Veterinarian Issues Wild Hog Transport Order

The State Veterinarian has issued an order specifying conditions under which wild-appearing hogs are to be transported in the state.

The order was issued in support of legislation passed this year by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam making it illegal to transport and release wild-appearing hogs without proper documentation. The new law goes into effect July 1.

"Wild hogs have the propensity to reproduce in great numbers, carry diseases, destroy crops and cause serious ecological damage," state veterinarian Charles Hatcher said. "The purpose of the order is to help reduce the incidence of disease and to support efforts to prevent the illegal transportation and releasing of wild hogs."

Wild hogs are typically two to three feet tall and up to five feet long with larger heads and heavier shoulders compared to domesticated breeds. Wild hogs also have smaller, pointed and heavily furred ears, longer snouts, tusks and straight tails.

Under the order, all wild-appearing swine being moved within the state must have one of the following:

Movement authorization numbers will be issued for wild-appearing swine being moved directly to slaughter, a quarantined facility, a veterinarian for testing or from one production facility to another. The order also provides for a movement authorization number to be issued for wild-appearing production swine that are raised for meat or breeding purposes. Production facilities for which movement authorization numbers are issued are subject to inspection by the department.

To receive a movement authorization number under this order, call the state veterinarian's office at 615-837-5120.

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TDA Weights & Measures inspector collects fuel quality samplePick Tennessee Products Hits the Road

'Tis the season for Pick Tennessee Products. We recently finished a successful trade show and are now in the middle of our summertime farmers market tour.

The farmers market tour kicked off June 9 at the Dyersburg Farmers Market. It was a great turnout, the market’s biggest opening day to date. Fifteen vendors sold their products. The tour also included a stop at the Columbia Fresh Farmers Market on June 16. Join us at one of our upcoming stops if we are in your area.

June 26 – Boliver Farmers Market, Bolivar, TN
June 27 – Farmers Market at Riverfront Park, Harriman, TN
July 28 – Clarksville Downtown Market, Clarksville, TN
August 4 – Maryville Farmers Market, Maryville, TN
August 25 – Warren County Farmers Market, McMinnville, TN

Tennessee growers and producers also had an opportunity to showcase their products at the Pick Tennessee Products Tradeshow June 1 at the Nashville Convention Center.

The event, held in conjunction with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association’s World of Food and Fuel Expo lets Tennessee producers offer their products to wholesalers, grocery store chains and restaurants.

Some 70 exhibitors attended, offering everything from salsa to soap. The winners for best products were:

First Place: Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company
Second Place: Glazee Artisan Ice Cream & Deserts
Third Place: Hog Heaven / BBQ Fight Club

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Pick Tennessee Products Veteran Joins TDA

Tammy Algood has been named TDA's Fruit, Vegetable and Viticulture Marketing Specialist. Originally from Mississippi but a Tennessean by choice since 1989, Algood worked for UT Extension as a Food Marketing Specialist for 23 years before beginning work with TDA in January.

"It is a marvelous fit for me to be working in the Market Development Division for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture because I have been the spokesperson for the Pick Tennessee Products campaign for the past 12 years," Algood said.

During that time, Algood worked to promote locally grown and processed food products in media outlets throughout the state and through HGTV and the DIY networks. She has worked for the past 15 years to promote local foods through Tennessee magazine, a weekly column called Marketbasket for the past 23 years in The Tennessean and has written two cookbooks that have both been nominated for James Beard Awards, The Complete Southern Cookbook and Farm Fresh Southern Cooking.

In her spare time, Algood grows herbs, flowers and vegetables with her husband in Rutherford County.

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TDA Weights & Measures inspector collects fuel quality sampleEquine Herpes Cases in Tennessee Now Under Control

Reports of horses infected with the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) began coming into the state veterinarian's office in early May. It appeared all of the sick horses had participated in the Bucksnort Trail Ride held April 23-30 in Humphreys County. Approximately 100 horses from multiple states participated in the event.

State veterinarian Charles Hatcher enacted a plan to slow the spread of this highly contagious virus. "When calls began coming in and we realized that these horses were probably infected at the Bucksnort Trail ride, we moved quickly to contact everyone who was involved in that event," Hatcher said. "We recommended the participants restrict movement and monitor their horses for seven to 10 days. If any clinical signs of the disease were observed, the horses were to be isolated and monitored for 28 days."

"It appears in this case, the plan worked, as the spread has stopped. We have not had any reported cases of EHV-1 since May 14. We had a total of nine confirmed or suspected cases, and unfortunately two of those horses had to be euthanized. With trail ride season in full swing, it could have been worse if not for the cooperation of veterinarians, event organizers and horse owners."

Equine Herpes Virus symptoms include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness, dribbling of urine and diminished tail tone. The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated. The virus can cause aborted foals and can be fatal in some cases.

Horse owners can take preventative measures to protect their horses from certain forms of EHV and other diseases such as mosquito-borne illnesses that are prevalent during the summer months by consulting with their veterinarians about available vaccines.

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TDA Funding Contributes to UT Organic Program's Success

The Organic Crop Unit at the University of Tennessee has been ranked as one of the top six programs in the nation for teaching students how to grow crops that meet U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, Calif., the only national, non-profit organization to track and report organic programs and activity in the U.S. land grant system, named UT one of the best after just five years of the program's existence.

"We are very proud that the UTK Organic Program has been recognized as one of the best in the nation," Joe Gaines, Assistant Commissioner for Market Development, said. "Tennessee agriculture is very diverse and we are glad that Tennessee organic farmers will benefit from the work being conducted by the university. The department is pleased to have been able to assist the development of this program."

OFRF scored each institution on eight points including maintaining organic research land, cultivating student organic farm, offering an organic minor, major or certificate, and employing a dedicated organic faculty or staff member. UT received a perfect score.

TDA provided a five-year, one million dollar grant to UT which has contributed to training opportunities for growers and helped hire and maintain staff who are devoted to focusing on organic production research and outreach across the state.

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Jun 22-23 Mississippi & Tennessee Agritourism Associations' Joint Meeting, Pickwick Landing State Park
Jun 28 Tobacco, Beef & More Field Day, UT AgResearch and Education Center, Springfield
Jul 9-12 Tennessee Junior Livestock Expo, Cattle Events, Tennessee Livestock Center, Murfreesboro
Jul 16-19 Tennessee Junior Livestock Expo, Sheep Events, Hyder-Burks Pavilion, Cookeville
Jul 19 Tobacco and Forage Production Field Day, UT AgResearch and Education Center, Greeneville
Jul 23-27 State 4-H Roundup, UT Knoxville
July 26 No-Till Field Day, UT AgResearch and Education Center, Milan
Aug 7 Steak & Potatoes Field Day, Plateau Research and Education Center, Crossville
Aug 9-10 Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation President's Conference, Cool Springs

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