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Rural Routes

In This Issue

Commissioner's Message

Pick TN Products Mobile App

Tribute to Firefighter Jerry Campbell

New Weights and Measures Truck

Specialty Crop Block Grants

TDA Employees' National Positions

Pesticide Waste Collection Program

Plaque Presented for late Ed Jones

National Hay Assoc. at Ellington


Apr 28-29

Tennessee Healthy Hardwoods Field Day, Standing Stone State Forest

Apr 28-29

Rural Development Conference, Murfreesboro

May 10-11

UT Blooms Day, Knoxville

May 15-16

Rural Life Festival, Nashville

May 30

June Dairy Month Luncheon, Nashville

June 10-14

Clay County Fair, Celina

June 13

Pick TN Products Trade Show, Nashville

June 26

Tobacco, Beef and More, Springfield



From Commissioner Julius Johnson:

While the Tennessee General Assembly has adjourned, our work is just beginning. Legislative action included passage of Gov. Bill Haslam's $32 billion fiscally conservative budget made all the more challenging this year by lagging tax revenues. We continue to do our part at TDA with reductions while minimizing the impact to employees and key programs and services. The good news -- Gov. Haslam's budget as approved maintains full funding for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.

Likewise, the General Assembly also passed key legislation ensuring the continued growth of agritourism in the state. Supported by Gov. Haslam and sponsored by Sen. Mark Norris and Reps. Gerald McCormick and Barry Doss, Tennessee's "Right to Farm Act" was amended to expand the definition of "agriculture" to include entertainment conducted in conjunction with, but secondary to, commercial production of farm products. This provides important guidance to the courts where none existed before as to what constitutes acceptable entertainment activities on farms and will help ensure the future of Tennessee's $34 million agritourism industry.

We also appreciate the General Assembly recognizing 100 years of service of the Division of Forestry with a joint resolution commemorating this milestone.

Other important legislative measures legalizing the production of industrial hemp and ensuring the quality and safety of honey will require the department to develop reasonable rules and regulations for carrying out these provisions. With this in mind, we look forward to working with each of you and seek your input as we enter what we hope will be another productive and prosperous growing season for Tennessee farmers.

Pick Tennessee Products Mobile App is Now Available

A "Pick Tennessee" mobile app is now available which can find and then map the way to locally grown farm products, farms and farmers markets. The free app, downloadable from both iTunes for Apple products and from Google Play for Android devices, is the latest incarnation of Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Pick Tennessee Products promotion.

"I'm proud to introduce this new face of an old friend," Commissioner Julius Johnson said. "Pick Tennessee Products has thrived for 28 years not only by providing real and valuable services, but also by having the flexibility to adapt to change - changing cultures, consumer demands and technology.

"Our government services must anticipate needs not just for the current year, but for 15 years down the road. With the new Pick Tennessee mobile app, we now reach consumers where they already expect to find us - on their phones and other digital devices."

The Pick Tennessee mobile app allows users to search by item, like "apples", by region of the state, or season. The mobile app then provides directions to the chosen location through direct GPS mapping.

"Every Tennessee farmer or farm product producer who sells directly to the public can visit the Pick Tennessee Products website and apply to become part of this extraordinary free service," Johnson said. "If a farm is listed on Pick Tennessee Products, that farm is automatically available on the new Pick Tennessee mobile app for GPS mapping."

The Pick Tennessee mobile app can keep track of favorites and provides links to seasonal recipes, handy tips and fun facts, as well as the full Pick Tennessee Products website. Farm direct and local items on the app include options as varied as local fruits and vegetables, wineries, greenhouses and plant nurseries, Christmas tree farms, and local honey. The items can be searched by the farm where they're produced, or the markets where they’re sold.

Pick Tennessee Products is the longstanding state campaign to connect customers to locally grown or made products and farm-related activities. The Pick Tennessee Products site,, also posts directories of the state’s county fairs, equine trails and services, local meats and dairies, and agritourism farms and activities of all kinds.

Going live in 1995, the Pick Tennessee Products site was the State of Tennessee's first consumer Web presence and continues to be TDA's information gateway for consumers and for marketing related producer programs. The site, a completely free service, currently features close to 2,000 participating farms, processors and other ag and farm businesses, listing about 10,000 individual items. It attracted more than 300,000 visits last year.

"This entire promotion is a completely free service to our producers and ag industry, on the Web, in print and broadcast, and now, through the full range of social media," Johnson said. "Pick Tennessee Products now has a new look and, but more important, it provides greater services for our farmers and rural economies."

Follow Pick Tennessee Products on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

A Tribute to Forestry Firefighter Jerry Campbell

The name Jerry Campbell may not ring a bell to the majority of you, but to the Cocke County fire crew this name resounds with dedication and commitment to a job well done. You see, Jerry came to work for the Division of Forestry in the fall of 2010 as a seasonal firefighter in Cocke County and, since that time, he has been on crews that have suppressed numerous wildland fires in the East Tennessee District. Since his start date with the Division, Jerry earned the respect and admiration of his crew.

February 28, 2014 was a day like many others during a normal fire season in the East Tennessee District. The Cocke County Forestry Technician received a request late that night to assist with a fire in Monroe County. As the crew assembled at the work center to begin preparations to deploy to the fire, a couple of the men noticed that Jerry didn't seem to be himself. It was then the focus within the work center shifted from the fire assignment to Jerry's condition, an apparent heart attack, which continued to worsen with time. After EMTs arrived at the center and rushed him to the local hospital Jerry was pronounced dead at 1:45 in the morning on March 1. This apparent heart attack took him from the mountains and work he enjoyed and from the family that he loved so much and from the Division of Forestry crew members that had become such an important part of his life.

Division of Forestry employees were issued black bands to place across their badges to observe 30 days of mourning during the month of March and flags flew at half-mast the week following Jerry's death in his honor at Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville and at the National Fire Administration in Maryland, home of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Those who knew and worked with Jerry will miss him very much, and the other employees of the Division will grieve his loss because of the bond that firefighters have with one another.

As we bid farewell to a fallen comrade we are assured of one thing, the phone will soon ring again and the men and women of the Tennessee Division of Forestry who wear Nomex with pride, will answer the call to deploy to another fire. I am certain that these brave employees will respond with resolve to protect life, property and the forest resources of East Tennessee, the Cumberland Plateau, Middle Tennessee or the flatlands of West Tennessee. We very much appreciate Jerry's service to the State of Tennessee. We will miss him. May he rest in peace. -- Jere Jeter, State Forester and Assistant Commissioner

TDA Weights and Measures Truck Fuels Tennessee Commerce

TDA’s Weights and Measures Section recently acquired a new and improved tool to facilitate commerce in the state -- a large scale testing unit replacing one that had been in service since 1998.

This vehicle will be used to inspect the accuracy of all types of large capacity scales such as vehicle, livestock and fertilizer hopper in the Upper Cumberland and Middle Tennessee regions of the state. The department currently has two similar units that are responsible for inspections in West and East Tennessee.

While the testing unit is the most expensive piece of equipment in the state's entire fleet of vehicles, it's also foundational to commerce in Tennessee. The truck ensures that our products and services are up to standards and credible for national and international trade.

These three units, which were all manufactured by Kanawaha Scale Company, utilize a 5,500 lb calibrated weight cart and a series of 1,000 lb and 500 lb calibrated weights. Once the weight cart is unloaded from the truck by the inspector and the calibrated weights are placed in the weight cart, the gasoline powered cart is manually driven to a series of locations on the scale platform. This enables the inspector to expedite the inspection which minimizes the "down-time" at the establishment where the scale being tested. This type of inspection also allows the inspector to quickly isolate any problems found with the scale encountered during the test.

Dated approval stickers are placed on large capacity scales and other devices inspected by the department when they are found to be in compliance. Establishments with noncompliant devices are normally allowed a reasonable length of time to have the devices repaired, however in some cases these devices may be removed from service pending repair by a company registered with the department.

In addition to inspecting large capacity scales, our Weights and Measures Section is responsible for the inspection of small capacity scales, retail fuel dispensers, and bulk & LPG meters. They routinely obtain fuel samples from retailers, terminals, and distributors for a battery of tests to insure all applicable quality standards are met. Price verification systems are routinely monitored to insure consumers are not overcharged for commodities. Commodities sold by weight, measure or count are subject to specific standards to insure consumers receive the correct amount purchased.

Our Weights and Measures office routinely receives a variety of consumer complaints. Inspectors are routed to the applicable establishment to investigate the complaint with a copy of the results forwarded to the consumer if requested.

Specific questions can be directed to our Weights and Measures office at 615-837-5109 or complaints may be registered by contacting the department’s toll free number at 800-628-2631.

Proposals being accepted for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

TDA is accepting proposals for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These federal funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, which include fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts and nursery crops including floriculture. The grants are authorized through the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 and are administered by TDA.

"Tennessee's rural communities are home to a lot of smart, hardworking people who see opportunities for the future," Ed Harlan, assistant commissioner for TDA Market Development, said.

“"For experienced agricultural entities who want to take their operations to the next level, Specialty Crop Block grants can be the missing piece of the puzzle," Harlan said. "The projects funded by these grants have the potential to create a positive ripple effect of success for rural economies."

Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for funding. Projects must directly impact multiple Tennessee producers. The purpose is to identify and support projects that are forward thinking with a positive, long lasting impact on Tennessee Agriculture. All fund recipients must be recognized by the IRS.

Submitted proposals must align with one of three categories: good agricultural practices (GAP), food safety, and traceability; farmers markets and wholesale produce; or innovative specialty crop projects. Proposals must be received by TDA no later than May 8. Specific proposal requirements and other information can be found at

Once received, proposals are reviewed and ranked according to criteria provided on the website. Applicants will be notified by June 12 whether TDA intends to present their projects to USDA for funding. First time recipients of SCBG funds have a funding limit of $25,000.

Proposals for food safety and traceability could include GAP training, specialized equipment and facilities needed to incorporate GAP, Good Management Practices (GMP) or tracing specialty crops to their sources. Examples of appropriate farmers markets and wholesale produce projects include proposals for improved produce cool storage, distribution and handling.

The more generalized category for innovative specialty crop projects allows proposals for on-farm efforts to enhance marketing, production, packing and/or distribution of specialty crops. Such projects might include improving nutrition through specialty crop distribution, or projects which improve, enhance, or reduce costs associated with distribution of specialty crops.

For more information regarding the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, email

TDA Employees Hold National Positions in their Fields

TDA is proud to recognize state veterinarian Charles Hatcher and Division of Forestry budget and planning unit leader Dave Walters for both being named presidents of national organizations in each of their respective fields.

Dr. Hatcher is the president of the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials His term began in October 2013 and lasts until October of 2015. The National Assembly works in conjunction with the United States Animal Health Association and other stakeholders in protecting animal and public health. The National Assembly has face to face meetings at least twice a year and national conference calls once a month to deal with common issues and challenges among state and federal animal health officials. The National Assembly doesn’t have a website or office location since it is a small group primarily composed of the state veterinarians from the 50 states.

Walters is the 2014 president of The Society of American Foresters. SAF is the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. It is the largest professional society for foresters in the world. The mission of SAF is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

SAF members include natural resource professionals in public and private settings, researchers, CEOs, administrators, educators, and students. SAF provides continuing education to foresters, accredits university Forestry programs and manages certification programs for natural resource professionals.

In fact, TDA's Division of Forestry benefits from SAF in several ways. One of those is through the strategic plan that the division has used over the last ten years. This plan was developed by a group of volunteers for SAF. Being in that group, Walters and other forestry employees adapted it to effectively identify priorities and action steps for the division.

TDA's Agricultural Pesticide Waste Collection Program Benefits Everyone

The intelligent and safe use of pesticides has helped make the United States the world's number one producer of food and fiber. However, if pesticides remain stored and unused indefinitely they can pose a serious health risk to humans, livestock and the environment - especially our rivers, lakes and groundwater.

In an effort to keep this problem from happening, TDA manages the Tennessee Agricultural Pesticide Waste Collection Program as part of Tennessee's State Management Plan for Protection of Groundwater from Pesticides.

This program is designed as a means for the safe removal and disposal of unwanted pesticides. Since the program's inception in 1998, TDA has collected more than 815,000 pounds of pesticides. Annually, we collect approximately 25,000 - 30,000 pounds. This service is offered free of cost to the agricultural community.

If you would like to dispose of pesticides, TDA will pick up your unusable products and have them incinerated by an environmental services firm that the department has under contract. If you have a small amount of product for disposal, a TDA employee will pick it up at your farm. If it is a large amounty arrangements can be made to have it removed directly by the contractor. This is a non-regulatory program; any pesticides will be removed with no questions asked. Our main concern is providing for the safe removal and disposal of unwanted pesticides.

Both known and unknown pesticide wastes will be accepted, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides; also other products such as defoliants and growth retardants. Products other than pesticides will not be collected. Specific materials that will not be collected include, but are not limited to: explosives or ordinance materials, petroleum products, paints, medical wastes, radioactive materials, dioxin precursors and seeds. Empty pesticide containers will not be collected.

For more information visit or call 615-837-5523.

TDA Hosts Commemorative Plaque Presentation for the late Ed Jones

Friends and staff members of former TDA Commissioner and 8th District U.S. Rep. Ed Jones recently gathered to honor his legacy as a statesman, gentleman and farmer. TDA hosted a reception recognizing Mr. Jones as only the 13th member to be inducted into the Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame since its establishment in 1937. The occasion also marked the placement of a bronze commemorative plaque, produced by renowned Tennessee sculptor Russ Faxon of Bell Buckle, at the Tennessee Agricultural Museum.

Former congressional aides Jim Culver and Joe Hill paid special tribute to Jones as an innovator of dairy genetics, a voice for rural America, a champion of conservation, the architect of crop insurance and the guardian of the farm credit system. He is widely recognized as the author of federal legislation creating today's highly successful agricultural conservation programs, and he is credited with saving the federal farm credit system. Longtime Jones associates and former TDA commissioners Terry Oliver and Cotton Ivy also offered remembrances.

In addition to Ivy and Oliver, the event brought together former commissioners Dan Wheeler, John Rose and Ken Givens, who joined current Commissioner Julius Johnson in recognizing Jones' contributions.

You can learn more about Mr. Ed, as he was affectionately known, and other pioneers and innovators in agriculture by contacting the Tennessee Agricultural Museum at 615-837-5197 or

National Hay Association Moves Offices to Ellington Agricultural Center

The National Hay Association, the trade association for the U.S. hay industry, recently hired Paul Dugger to be its new executive director to replace the retiring Don Kieffer. His first order of business was to move the NHA offices from St. Petersburg, FL, where they had been located for more than 20 years, to the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville.

"I'm delighted to be located at Ellington," Dugger said. "When the NHA search committee told me that the office could be located in my city of residence, I was quite happy. When my wife suggested I see if space were available at the Ellington Agricultural Center, and it turned out to be so, I was thrilled!"

"We're proud to have the NHA located on our campus," TDA assistant commissioner Larry Maxwell said. "Forage production is so important to Tennessee and Commissioner Johnson felt that it would be a win-win to host this national industry group in our state."

The NHA works daily within the industry, federal agencies, Congress and other stakeholders to create an environment that benefits hay markets and the people who depend on hay and straw in their commerce. NHA represents hay producers, brokers, dealers, exporters and consumers of forage products, as well as disciplines and activities of businesses that provide products and services to the hay industry.

NHA's activities are funded entirely through voluntary dues from members located in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

"When I made my report to the Board of Directors in March, the focus was largely on the relocating of the offices," Dugger said. "The entire board is very supportive of this arrangement and is delighted to be affiliated with such a prestigious agency and location."

Dugger has a diverse agribusiness background having grown up in California's Imperial Valley where his father was a farm and cotton gin manager. He spent two decades serving the US cotton industry through its trade association, The National Cotton Council, and The Cotton Board and also worked in agriculture equipment sales and marketing before joining the NHA.

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