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In This Issue

Message from Commissioner Julius Johnson

Ag leaders develop strategic plan for Tennessee agriculture and forestry

Pick Tennessee products unveils a new look and updates services

Play. Plant. Preserve. Seedling grant and tree planting program

Regulatory Services changes name to better reflect mission

New faces at TDA

FFA Foundation seeking qualified applicants

Urban Runoff 5-K event a success


Jan 16-18

Tennessee Association of Fairs Convention, Nashville

Jan 17-18

Tennessee green Industry Expo, Nashville

Jan 21

Tennessee Pork Producers' Taste of Elegance, Murfreesboro

Jan 22

Tennessee Jr. Market Hog Show, Murfreesboro

Jan 23-25

Tennessee Cattleman's Association Convention, Pigeon Forge

Jan 30-Feb 1

Tennessee Horticultural Expo, Nashville

Feb 4-7

2014 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, Nashville

Feb 16-22

National FFA Week and Tennessee FFA Goodwill Tour

Feb 18

2014 Mid-South Stocker Conference, Paris Landing State Park



Message from Commissioner Julius Johnson:

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. As the year comes to an end, it's a time to look back with gratitude and think forward with hope.

2013 was a good year for agriculture in Tennessee. Most farmers were blessed with abundant rain and sunshine that made for a profitable growing season, and TDA had a lot of success with agribusiness development and job creation in our rural areas.

But, because there is always uncertainty in farm production due to weather and the economy, we know we must keep our eye on the ball. That's why state agricultural leaders spent the last year developing a strategic plan to improve and grow our industry in the years to come. TDA is also ushering in a new look and design for Pick Tennessee Products that will connect our farmers, services and products to consumers even better than before.

The TDA staff and I thank you for your continued support. We will continue to work hard for all Tennesseans and everyone involved in agriculture during the years to come.

Ag leaders develop strategic plan for Tennessee agriculture and forestry

Tennessee agricultural leaders unveiled a 10-year strategic plan to increase agriculture and forestry in the state by building production capacity and incentivizing the private sector.

The plan was developed following a challenge by Gov. Bill Haslam a year ago to make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast in the growth and development of agriculture and forestry.

"Every farm is a small business, and we need to remember that," Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. "We enjoy the aesthetics of our farms and often forget that there is a business ongoing here that has to turn a profit every year to continue to exist as a farm."

The plan highlights 27 action steps which focus on building production capacity and incentivizing the private sector through four major recommendations:

  • Advance agriculture, natural resources and rural infrastructure as Tennessee business priorities.
  • Ensure a positive and predictable regulatory and policy environment for Tennessee agriculture and natural resources.
  • Expand marketing opportunities for Tennessee producers and encourage new production systems and agribusinesses.
  • Increase the scope and depth of a skilled and educated workforce through career, technical and higher education.

Tennessee Farm Bureau president Lacy Upchurch, UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington and Johnson presented the plan to Gov. Bill Haslam during the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting earlier this month in Franklin, Tenn.

The three leaders guided the development of the plan with the help of a steering committee of 28 Tennessee farmers, business leaders and commodity representatives.

Pick Tennessee Products Unveils a New Look and Updates Services

"Pick Tennessee Products" has a new look and improved features as part of its makeover to put our farmers, programs and products in front of consumers as never before by reaching out to consumers on their phones, through mobile apps and other digital services.

"Bold decisions and changes will make Market Development ready not just for the coming year, but for 15 years down the road," Assistant Commissioner of Market Development Ed Harlan said. "These changes to our positions and programs require backgrounds and skill sets new to our division, and they're completely necessary for us to keep our efforts moving at the rate of technological change we see everywhere else in business and society in general."

The Web address remains the same, , but the re-envisioned site features a responsive Web design, with each page conforming to the shape of whatever type of screen displays it, from narrow vertical phone screens to wide horizontal tablet or monitor screens.  In 2014, a new free mobile app will be available with a much simpler version of the logo.

Pick Tennessee Products is TDA's promotional campaign to help consumers identify locally grown and processed products. The Pick Tennessee Products site was the State of Tennessee's first consumer web presence, going live in 1995. It continues to be the Internet gateway and home to all Market Development consumer program information. The site lists close to 2,000 participating farms, processors and other ag and farm businesses with about 10,000 individual items, and currently attracts more than 275,000 visits a year.

Play. Plant. Preserve. Seedling Grant and Tree Planting Program

The Division of Forestry is proud to announce its partnership with the music based company D'Addario and the launch of the Play. Plant. Preserve. Seedling Grant and Tree Planting Program. The program is an initiative aimed at ensuring that the hardwood resources used for making drumsticks and mallets in Tennessee is sustainable. The program is funded by Prospect, Tenn. based ProMark, a subsidiary of D'Addario & Company, and is administered by TDF. The goal of the program is to provide an avenue for the planting of five trees for every one that ProMark uses. Within five years, the company hopes to have replaced every tree ever used by ProMark, since its inception in 1957.

Seedlings used for this program are grown at TDF's East Tennessee Nursery located in Delano, Tenn. and are provided at no cost to eligible Tennessee landowners. Landowners wanting to participate must have a tree planting prescription prepared or approved by a TDF forester. Requests for 100 to 10,000 seedlings will be accepted when available. Larger plantings will be approved based on availability, need, and expected conservation benefits. TDF personnel will assist with seedling selection and ordering. Landowners must agree to maintain and protect planted seedlings for a minimum of 10 years. The program is designed for conservation plantings only (i.e. non-ornamental).

Supplies are limited, so if you're a landowner interested in planting hardwood trees - or know someone who is - help us spread the word about this great opportunity. For more information, visit an Area Forester in your county or Promark.

Regulatory Services Changes Name to Better Reflect Mission

TDA's Division of Regulatory Services has a new name - Consumer and Industry Services.

"I am honored to be working in the Department of Agriculture and am looking forward to helping farmers market managers increase their sales and better their markets," Tavalin said. "The horticulture and nursery industry is prominent in Tennessee and I am thrilled to be working with the producers in that industry along with the farmers markets."

"We feel that the new name better reflects the mission of the division to provide evenhanded services that protect, enhance and ensure fairness, quality and safety in the marketplace; and, it conveys a more customer friendly approach to regulation," said Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson.

The division provides a variety of important programs and services from food safety and motor fuel quality to animal and plant health services, product labeling and weights and measures. The division's top administrator says no matter the name, employees are committed to providing the same great public service for ensuring the safety and well-being of Tennesseans.

"Administering the laws and rules assigned to us remains a core component of our mission," said Assistant Commissioner Jimmy Hopper.

'As we have in the past, our goal is to achieve compliance in the marketplace by providing customer friendly, consistent and impartial service to all of our stakeholders - both consumers and businesses."

The new name takes effect immediately. Visit the Consumer and Industry Services Division online or call toll-free 1-800-628-2631 for more information or assistance.

New Faces at TDA

Mark Powell has been named TDA's new administrator of the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, Jolene Berg has joined TDA's Division of Consumer and Industry Services as Coordinator of Manufactured Foods Regulatory Program Standards and Tara Witherow has been named the new Education Curator for the Tennessee Agricultural Museum.

Powell comes to TDA from the Wilson Farmers Co-op where he has been manager since 2005. Before that, he was a UT Extension 4-H agent in Wilson County.

Powell is no stranger to agriculture growing up on a farm in East Tennessee and being active in the Knox County 4-H Program in which he was named a National 4-H Sheep Project Winner and winner of the 4-H Presidential Tray. He received his bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a master’s in Reproductive Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He got a Bible master's degree from Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Fla. and went on to teach college Biology, Microbiology and Human Anatomy and Physiology at the same college.

Powell lives with his family on a 180-acre sheep farm in Watertown, Tenn. The farm has been in his family for five generations.

Berg will coordinate the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS) which is an FDA grant funded program designed to develop a uniform framework for state regulatory food safety programs across the U.S. As coordinator, Berg is responsible for assessing TDA's program, demonstrating to the FDA where the state program already meets MFRPS requirements, implementing plans to bridge existing gaps, and reporting progress in conforming to the MFRPS guidelines.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to work with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and hope to make a meaningful contribution to the program through my work with the Manufactured Foods Regulatory Program Standards," Berg said.

Berg will be reporting to Bill Thompson and working with Bill Walls (MFRPS outreach coordinator) and Eileen High (MFRPS technical consultant) to integrate the MFRPS program with the existing regulatory program implemented by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for food manufacturers operating in the state.

Berg grew up in central California on a hobby ranch where she developed an interest in raising livestock. Her appreciation for food animal and dairy production grew while attending the UC Davis Goat Teaching and Research Facility. She went on to obtain her MS in Animal Biology where she was introduced to the implementation of environmental policy for agriculture with the adoption of new waste discharge requirements for dairy producers. She is now pursuing a PhD in the Systems Agriculture program offered at WTAMU in Canyon, Texas where she has researched the development and implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit regulations for livestock producers.

As the new Education Curator for the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, Witherow's duties will include managing education programs and public tours, and assisting in planning and production of the museum’s festivals.

"I really enjoy helping children learn with hands-on activities; the sites, the sounds and the smells really make an impact," Witherow said. "The Tennessee Agricultural Museum provides such a unique atmosphere to help children learn and experience farm life past and present first hand and I'm excited to work with the incredible people in the Ag Department."

A Tennessee native, Witherow spent many years living in Texas and earning a Master's degree in Museum Science from Texas Tech University. Her past experience includes working as an education associate at Heritage Farmstead Museum of Plano, Texas and most recently, she was the education and group tours coordinator for Battle of Franklin Trust.

FFA Foundation Seeking Qualified Applicants

The Tennessee FFA Foundation announced that it is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Executive Director. The position is full-time, reports to the Foundation’s Chairman and Executive Committee and is based in Cookeville, Tenn. Primary responsibilities include serving as chief fundraiser, manager and goodwill ambassador. The position requires a four-year degree with previous fundraising experience highly preferred. A cover letter, resume and references should be submitted by Jan. 10, 2014. For more information, visit the Tennessee FFA Foundation.

The Tennessee FFA Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to promoting the best interest of students and others involved in agriculture education/FFA in order to help members reach their potential as productive citizens. TDA proudly supports Tennessee FFA and 4-H programs, awards and scholarships through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program and Agricultural Development "Ag Tag" Fund.

Urban Runoff 5-K Event a Success

Despite a frosty start and cold temps, the inaugural Urban Runoff 5K and Water Festival on Oct. 26 got off to a great start with more than 230 participants plus many more volunteers. The event helped raise awareness among the public on urban water quality issues, and promoted water quality and conservation services offered by public, private and non-profit conservation groups. Net proceeds totaled $4,128 and were presented to Hands on Nashville to benefit their waterway restoration program.

The race began at Bicentennial Mall and weaved its way past several cool and innovative green stormwater management practices. In addition to viewing examples of "green" stormwater practices along the route, the race also paralleled and highlighted a section of the Cumberland River, Nashville’s most precious water resource for which innovative stormwater design concepts will be key in preserving for future generations.

The Division of Forestry was the primary sponsor of the event through its Urban Riparian Buffer Grant Program. Thanks to our partners - TDEC, Metro Water Services and the Tennessee Stormwater Association - for hosting such a great event. TDF along with Smokey Bear shared information about the importance of forests in protecting water quality, controlling stormwater and providing wildlife habitat. Race winners received tree seedlings donated by TDF’s East Tennessee Nursery. The department was well represented with race participants including Commissioner Johnson, Assistant Commissioners Jere Jeter and Jimmy Hopper, Tom Womack, David Arnold, Sam Marshall and John Woodcock. TDA volunteers assisting with the event included Bruce Webster, Peggy Naifeh and Anni Self.

Race results and pictures are posted online.

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