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Rural Routes

In This Issue

Commissioner's Message

Sensitive Crop Registry

Flatt Appointment

New Animal Identification Rule

FireWise Recognition

Museum Events

Shop With Confidence for Local Plants

Ag Day on the Hill 2018

In Case You Missed It


April 24

West TN FFA Banquet, Jackson

April 26

Middle TN FFA Banquet, Cookeville

April 27

Southeast TN Beef Summit, Athens

TSU Commercial Kitchens and Food Safety Workshop, Clarksville

April 28

Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival, Lebanon

May 5

State 4-H Shotgun Jamboree, Nashville

UT 2nd Annual Hemp Field Day, Crofton, KY

May 10-11

Rural Life Festival at Tennessee Ag Museum, Nashville

May 15

Plan Before Planting Workshop Series, Clarksville

May 19

Pickin' on the Porch at Tennessee Ag Museum, Nashville

TN Healthy Hardwoods, Tullahoma

May 22

TSU Equipment Needs and Vermiculture Instruction, Nashville

May 25

UT Cotton Scout School, Jackson



Commissioner Jai Templeton: Adjustments in Agriculture

Agriculture is seeing many adjustments at this time. Several farms have been given the news that major clients will stop purchasing their tobacco and milk for reasons beyond the farmers' control. Tobacco and dairy have long been foundations of agriculture in Tennessee, and we are working with all stakeholders to determine the best way forward. We are fortunate to have industry leaders like USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, who recently met with Tennessee farmers at Ellington Agricultural Center to hear their concerns and speak to the issues they are facing.

With an annual economic impact of more than $81 billion, agriculture is our state's top industry. Keeping nationwide market influences in mind, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is focused on strengthening the ag industry.

This past year, we completely retooled the way we think about our role in building Tennessee's agribusiness environment. We have revamped our Agricultural Advancement division and changed not only the titles, but the direction of our employees in order to better assist farmers and foresters.

The entire TDA team comes to work every day committed to the tasks we are mandated to accomplish by law or challenged to do in order to best serve our constituents. We also show up for work thinking about ways we can increase the value of farm and forest products.

Thank you for the great support that you give Tennessee's most valuable industry. I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.

Sensitive Crop Registry Announced

Tennesseans with apiaries and commercially grown crops sensitive to pesticides are encouraged to register their locations using the online program, FieldWatch, Inc.

Purdue University developed FieldWatch in collaboration with agricultural stakeholders. The registry streamlines communication between producers and pesticide applicators to help protect sensitive crops and apiaries from unintended pesticide exposure.

In October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new label requirements for the pesticides Engenia, XtendiMax and FeXapan, which included the provision that pesticide applicators consult a sensitive crop registry prior to applying these new formulations of dicamba products.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture considered several registry options. Fieldwatch is already in use in 18 other states, and will help Tennessee maintain its reputation as a prime location for all types of agriculture.

The FieldWatch registry offers two online platforms. DriftWatch is for producers of commercially grown crops sensitive to pesticides and includes the ability to map boundaries around production fields. BeeCheck is a registry site for beekeepers that designates one-mile radius boundaries around apiaries. Producers of commercially grown sensitive crops who also manage apiaries may enter hive locations using either DriftWatch or BeeCheck. The registry is offered at no cost to participating farmers

Along with apiary sites, the registry also includes commercial vineyards of a half-acre or larger, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery tobacco and Christmas tree production sites, and certified organic crops.

To access DriftWatch and BeeCheck, visit The website offers detailed instructions to sign up and use the mapping tools.

Flatt Takes on New Role

Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton has announced the appointment of Whitney Flatt as the Agribusiness Development Consultant for food business growth at TDA.

As the newest Agribusiness Development Consultant, Flatt will be responsible for developing a strategic plan for and cultivating business opportunities in food, beverage, and other related sectors.

"We have revamped our Agricultural Advancement division to continue strengthening Tennessee agriculture, and Whitney will be a valuable addition to assist in accomplishing that goal," Commissioner Templeton said. "This shift reinforces our efforts to become more strategic in facilitating agribusiness opportunities, particularly in our distressed and at-risk counties."

Flatt has been with TDA since 2016, serving as a program coordinator for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP). During her time with TAEP, she oversaw the grain storage, hay storage, livestock feed storage, and livestock working facility cover programs. She also served as TAEP’s outreach specialist, providing customer support to more than 3,000 producers annually.

Prior to joining TDA, Whitney worked as a project coordinator for the 2Seeds Network, a development non-profit based in Tanzania, East Africa. Her efforts with 2Seeds centered on agribusiness training, value and supply chain management, and human capital development.

"I am excited about the possibilities this new position holds," Flatt said. "There is a wealth of opportunity for growth within Tennessee's food and beverage sector, and I am eager to work with new and established businesses to further our state’s economic development in this area.

Flatt grew up in Newbern, Tenn. She is a dedicated foodie, traveler, and a lover of the arts. In her spare time she enjoys trying farm-to-table restaurants, traveling, and attending film screenings at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre. For food and beverage manufacturing inquiries, Flatt can be reached at


New Goat Identification Rule Announced

A new rule requiring official identification for goats that are transported within the state has been announced. This change will create consistency with surrounding states and with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Traceability and Scrapie rule, allowing for traceability and easier interstate movement of goats. TDA will be working with goat owners and industry stakeholders to gain compliance by July 1.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. Although there is no evidence that scrapie poses a risk to human health, there is no cure or treatment for the disease in livestock at this time.

"Scrapie is a serious disease that must be eradicated," State Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Hatcher said. "Having official identification for our goats in Tennessee will significantly improve the chances of accomplishing that goal.

The most commonly used form of identification for goats is a scrapie tag. Tennessee sheep and goat producers can order this metal ear tag for free through the National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) by calling the local USDA office at 615-781-5314.

The NSEP has reduced the prevalence of scrapie in adult sheep sampled at slaughter by more than 99 percent. Sheep and goat producers who tag their livestock are critical to maintaining traceability and eliminating the last few cases in the United States. Producers are urged to enroll in the NSEP.

More information about Tennessee sheep and goat identification requirements, as well as the National Scrapie Eradication Program, can be found here.

Tennessee Communities Earn Firewise Recognition

The Laurel Valley and Little Round Top communities of Townsend, Tenn. have earned Firewise USA recognition from the National Fire Protection Association. These communities were honored based on their efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and landscapes to wildfire. They join 18 others in Tennessee to earn this recognition since the program started in 2002.

To celebrate these accomplishments, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry presented the communities with a commemorative plaque and Firewise USA street signs. Community leaders, homeowners, representatives from the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Division of Forestry officials were in attendance.

"Little Round Top and Laurel Valley are model communities by taking responsibility to address their wildfire safety concerns, State Forester Jere Jeter said. "The Firewise USA program has provided the framework to develop a more prepared community with wildfire awareness and risk reduction activities.

The free and voluntary Firewise USA recognition program allows communities to apply for grants from the Division of Forestry to implement projects specified in their Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

To earn the recognition, the communities worked with the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Division of Forestry to conduct wildfire hazard assessments and develop protection plans to address safety concerns. Residents then worked together to implement the plans to reduce fire risk.

"The 2016 fires on Chilhowee Mountain near Walland and in Sevier County have shown us that there are things we can do for our homes and community to reduce the risk, Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters said. "We welcome the opportunity to work with others in the same way.

For more information about the Firewise USA program, please contact Nathan Waters at 865-776-2111 or click here.

Tennessee Agricultural Museum Updates

As the weather is changing and improving, so is the Tennessee Agricultural Museum. The museum building is temporarily closed as it undergoes exciting renovations, with reopening expected for early June.

However, the renovation won't delay the 36th annual Rural Life Festival on May 10 and 11 at the Museum. We hope you join us for old time demonstrations of farm life, entertainment, and more. Please call ahead for scheduling and more information.

We are also excited to announce our new event, Pickin' on the Porch! Bring your friends and family to enjoy a free evening of live music, a food truck, and more here at Ellington Agricultural Center on May 19. Donations are welcomed to fund repairs to the historic cabins at the Museum.

Click here or call 615-837-5197 for more information.

Buy Local Plants With Confidence

Are you a gardener gearing up for the growing season? Local farmers markets, on-farm greenhouses, and retail garden centers are filling with gorgeous flowers and vegetable plants that promise bountiful harvests.

Experienced plant lovers know that sometimes plants can look beautiful in the store, but will soon wilt once planted. Worse, they can bring bugs and blights into your home.

You can buy with confidence that your purchases are disease and pest free when you buy plants grown in Tennessee. Plant inspectors from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) work closely with Tennessee greenhouse and nursery growers to be sure plants are healthy before they leave the field or greenhouse.

Inspectors from TDA's Consumer and Industry Services division help growers access the latest information on emerging diseases and pests. Inspectors and growers work as a team to quickly identify threats and treat plants to keep problems from spreading. Only certified disease and pest free plants are allowed to be transported in Tennessee.

Plants grown close to home are varieties that will thrive in your area. They haven't been stressed by traveling long distances, and they haven't been left on pavement in punishing sun. Further, when you buy directly from a grower at a local farm or farmers market, you will receive expert advice on where and how to plant your purchases, which leads to lush plants and delicious produce.

Find Tennessee farmers markets, nurseries, greenhouses, and retail garden centers with locally grown plants with the Pick TN mobile app or on the Pick Tennessee website.

Ag Day on the Hill 2018

It's our favorite day of the year! Thanks to all who showed their support for Tennessee's farms and forests at Tennessee Ag Day 2018. Held on March 20, this year's Tennessee Ag Day celebration coincided with National Ag Day, an annual event to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. We appreciate our friends and partners who came together to host a dinner for lawmakers and featured livestock and wood products at the Cordell Hull building in Nashville.

The Senate and the House battled it out in the crosscut saw contest. Congratulations to Jeremy Fasion and Bill Dunn who brought home the win for the House. Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee took home a check for $1000 from Shooting Hunger in honor of the crosscut contest winners.The silent auction benefited Society of St. Andrew - Tennessee and Ag in the Classroom.

In Case You Missed It

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