UT Workshops to Teach Farmers How to Keep Records for Value-Added Enterprises

Sirloin SteakKeeping good business records is critical for any value-added farm business, says Hal Pepper, Financial Analysis Specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension. “Direct marketers, food processors and agritourism operators who keep good records are better able to analyze their costs and returns and evaluate market outlets.”

In December of this year and March 2018, Pepper along with Les Humpal, Dallas Manning and Danny Morris from UT Extension will present a seven-hour workshop designed to help farmers learn to keep better financial records. Participants will be introduced to QuickBooks accounting software and learn about setting up a chart of accounts, items, customers, and vendors, entering sales and recording deposits, paying bills and writing checks and creating reports. The workshop is designed for producers who sell fresh and processed farm products at direct marketing outlets such as farmers markets, on-farm stands, pick-your-own and agritourism operations.

“Record Keeping for Successful Value-Added Enterprises” will be held on the following dates at several locations across the state:

  • December 12, Martin
  • December 13, Carthage
  • December 14, Chattanooga
  • March 13, Memphis
  • March 14, Franklin
  • March 15, Knoxville

Pre-registration is required, and the workshop will begin with check-in at 8:30 a.m. local time. The workshop will end at 4 p.m.

The registration fee is $20 per person and lunch is provided. Space is limited and pre-registration is required no later than five business days prior to each workshop. Information about the workshop is available on the Center’s website: ag.tennessee.edu/cpa and registration is now open online at tiny.utk.edu/farmrecords.

This workshop fulfills a TAEP educational requirement in only the following Producer Diversification sectors: Agritourism, Fruits & Vegetables and Value-Added. For additional information regarding educational programs for TAEP requirements, please contact Clay Dunivan at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, 615-837-5348.

The “Record Keeping for Successful Value-Added Enterprises” workshop was developed by the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture through funding provided by Southern Risk Management Education and is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2015-49200-24228.

Learn more about the Center for Profitable Agriculture at ag.tennessee.edu/cpa. Contact Pepper with questions about the workshop at hal.pepper@utk.edu or 931-486-2777.

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New Program to Help Veterans, Others Who Want to Become Farmers

American Flag On A Barn

Fewer than 1 percent of the population of America can count themselves as farmers, so the question becomes, “Who will comprise the next generation of farmers?”

A nationwide movement by the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) believes that veterans might serve their country in a new capacity, as providers of the nation’s food and fiber – and help themselves in the process. USDA and many in Tennessee, including University of Tennessee Extension, Tennessee State University Extension and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, agree.  With support from the USDA, a new program is coming to Tennessee to help the dreams of some veterans become a reality. It may also help others who would like to farm, but don’t know where or how to start.

The Tennessee Beginning Farmers Development Program (TBFD) will provide resources and assistance to beginning farmers, especially those who are military personnel, veterans, and farmers with disabilities. Funded with two 3-year awards from USDA, the TBFD will launch in early 2018 in upper Middle Tennessee, and then expand statewide. Upper Middle Tennessee was chosen because of its proximity to Fort Campbell, which has a high concentration of military personnel including those who are on active duty, discharged and retired. The program will be expanded statewide in years 2 and 3.

Agriculture offers purpose and opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits. The TBFD will work to connect the opportunity of agriculture to Tennesseans who hope to start, develop and fund an agriculture-based enterprise.

Eileen Legault, UT Extension Area Specialist with the Tennessee AgrAbility Project (TNAP), says, “Another goal of TBFD is to help build a network of veterans across the state who are beginning farmers. We are looking for farmers who are interested in mentoring these beginning farmers or maybe offering a learning internship at their farm.” Legault is excited to help beginning farmers. “With all the USDA resources available and Extension educational programs, AgrAbility and TBFD are helping farmers with disabilities see that farming with a disability is possible with modifications and assistive technology. Veterans with disabilities may see their disability as a barrier to their dream of farming, but through this grant we will offer hope and resources to make those dreams happen,” she said.

Karla Kean, TSU Extension Agent in Montgomery County and West Tennessee Program Manager, says that TBFD programs will not only address traditional agriculture, but will also offer opportunities in the fields of horticulture, horticultural therapy and the tree care industry. “This project is going to be very beneficial for beginning farmers and especially those transitioning out of the military who want to learn more about farming.” 

Jenni Goodrich, the East Tennessee Program Manager with TSU Extension in Morgan County, encourages all farmers to establish realistic goals, a farm business plan, a farm safety and health plan and a marketing plan so they are successful and profitable.  As the TSU Small Farm Veteran outreach contact, Goodrich shares her voice of experience as a veteran’s widow and offers background information on farming to those new to the endeavor.

Over the last 4 years Tennessee Extension has referred beginning farmers to Tennessee New Farmer Academy, a seven-month certification program with hands-on farming led by Finis Stribling, TSU Area Extension Specialist. The academy will expand statewide in 2018 and tie in with beginning farmer education opportunities.

The USDA awards, which amount to nearly $739,000 over the course of 3 years in separate grants to the two universities, will help fund UT and TSU Extension specialists as they meet with farmers to develop a business and financial plan for their farms to help beginning farmers’ efforts lead to success. TBFD is a partnership between University of Tennessee Extension, Tennessee State University Extension, Tennessee AgrAbility Project, the Farmer Veteran Coalition and Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which supports the Homegrown by Heroes project through their Pick Tennessee Products program. Tim Prather, a specialist with UT Extension, will serve as the principal investigator for the UT portion of the grant and for the Tennessee AgrAbility Project. Dr. Roy Bullock, TSU Extension Professor and Agriculture Program Leader, is coordinating the TSU grant.

Among the first steps of the project is gathering citizen input. TBFD specialists have developed a survey to help assess beginning farmer needs across the state. The survey will close December 1, 2017, and can be found at extension.tennessee.edu/beginningfarmers. More information can also be found on the Tennessee Beginning Farmer Development Facebook page. 

The UT/TSU Montgomery County Extension office will hold a Tennessee Beginner Farmer Development stakeholder meeting on Monday, December 4, at 6 p.m.  This will be held at the Montgomery County Courthouse, 2 Millennium Plaza, Clarksville, in the third floor meeting room. Those who can’t attend can contact Kean for more information, 931-648-5725,kkean1@tnstate.edu.

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association to Hold 33rd Annual Convention and Trade Show

1-1The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) will celebrate 33 years of serving the state’s cattle producers with its annual convention and trade show in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on January 26-27. Nearly 1,000 attendees will hear from top livestock industry speakers addressing topics like herd health, forage systems, sustainability, and the current state of the beef business.

Members will have the opportunity to vote on two TCA resolutions and Board of Directors appointees at the Delegate Session on Friday, Jan. 26.

Informational breakout sessions called, “Cow Colleges” will be held on both Friday and Saturday. The speakers at these sessions include: Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA); Ashley Lyon McDonald, ‎Senior Director of Sustainability for NCBA; Tom Short with Zoetis, who will discuss adding value to Tennessee feeder calves; Gregg Braun, USDA Grazing Specialist, who will discuss maximizing forage use; Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of communications for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, who will discuss how animal agriculture is under attack; and finally, representatives from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Beef Industry Council and Center for Profitable Agriculture will share updates on their program areas.

“I am excited about our speaker line up this year,” said Steve Anderson, TCA’s president and cattle producer from Smith County. “Attendees are going to learn a lot of valuable information for their farms. They’ll also have a chance to network with other cattle producers and vote on association policy which gives us all a voice at the capitol.”

In conjunction with TCA events, the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association (TDPA) will also meet. TDPA will hold its own meetings but will come together for general sessions. Additionally, UT Agriculture Extension Veterinarian Dr. Lew Strickland is once again arranging for a Veterinarian Continuing Education Seminar to be held in conjunction with the meeting.
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, attendees can visit the trade to talk with more than 100 exhibitors. Vendors will be showing off new products, services, and the latest technology for the beef and dairy industries. Also in the trade show, there will be a live cattle video auction, followed by an analysis from UT’s Agricultural Economist Dr. Andrew Griffith and Jodee Inman from the USDA.

Also on Friday, TCA will be presenting several scholarships to youth and honoring outstanding members during the awards luncheon.

On Saturday, there will be a special opportunity for the youth participate in activities including a quiz bowl, scavenger hunt, and workshops led by some of Tennessee’s brightest young agriculture advocates.

Pre-registration is $20 for Friday or $15 for Saturday. It is $30 for both Friday and Saturday. This includes admission to all Cow Colleges, the trade show, and the Best of Beef Reception. Lunch is extra. Pre-registration ends Jan. 19. Late registration and registration at the door will be an additional $10 over pre-registration fees.

Attendees should register by calling the TCA office at (615) 896-2333 or by downloading and mailing in the online form which can be found at www.tncattle.org. A full schedule of events can also be found on the TCA website. If attendees would like to register for the TDPA sessions, they need to register with Stan Butt. If they are attending the Veterinarian sessions, they’ll register with Dr. Strickland. For hotel reservations, call the Embassy Suites Hotel at (615) 890-4464 or online: www.murfreesboro.embassysuites.com.

TCA was founded in 1985 and has nearly 7,000 members from across the state and the southeast. The organization works to provide the cattlemen of Tennessee with an organization through which they may function collectively to protect their interests and work toward the solution of cattle industry problems and to build the necessary goodwill that will bring both governmental esteem and recognition to the industry.

For more information visit www.tncattle.org, email info@tncattle.org or call (615) 896-2333. Be sure to follow the TCA on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/tncattle and Twitter account: @TennesseeCattle.

Plateau AgResearch and Education Center Announces Annual Fall Sale

utia press release The University of Tennessee Plateau AgResearch and Education Center will host its annual fall sale of cattle onFriday, November 17, 2017, at 10 a.m. CST.

The sale includes the largest offering of bred heifers ever offered at the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center, with over 40 bred registered Angus heifers that are TAEP qualified. The sale will also feature open and bred cows from the center’s herd, all of which are registered Angus. Minimum bids per head will be required. The cows will be penned and available for viewing beginning November 16. Registration documentation will also be available.

For more information, including a list of the cattle to be sold, or to make arrangements to preview sale stock, contact the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center at 931-484-0034 or e-mail Jennifer Burns at jburns35@utk.edu.

The sale will be conducted by Marcka Auction Services and will be conducted at the center’s headquarters on U.S. Highway 70 North, approximately 8 miles west of Crossville. The address is 320 Experiment Station Road. A map and directions are available on the center’s website: plateau.tennessee.edu

The 
Plateau AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 outdoor laboratories operated by UT AgResearch, a division of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu

ABS Offering Expanded Opportunity for Student & Graduate Internships

Heifers-webABS Global, Inc., a global producer and marketer of bovine genetics and related products, is currently seeking North America internship candidates for Summer 2018. Several positions are available in several different departments: Sales, Biotechnology, Reproduction, Genetic Management System, Genetic Data Analytics, Research & Development, Animal Handling and Embryo Transfer/IVF/OPU. For more information regarding location and qualifications, please visit www.absglobal/internships
Candidates should be eligible to work in the US and/or Canada, currently enrolled at an accredited 2 year or 4 year school, and available to work full time for 12 weeks during summer 2018. Internships opportunities in Research & Development and Embryo Transfer/In Vitro Fertilization are also available for graduate and veterinary students.
As a part of the internship experience, students will spend one week at the global headquarters in DeForest, Wisconsin and have the opportunity to view semen collection & processing, learn about the history of ABS, and gain exposure to all aspects of the business.
A summer internship with ABS provides college students the experience necessary to launch a successful career in the dairy, beef, and biotechnology industries. Please visit our website career page for more information. Applications are due by November 12th, 2017, with interviews to be held during November and December. ABS Global is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer M/F/D/VM, and we politely request no phone calls or recruiter inquiries.
About ABS
Headquartered in DeForest, Wisconsin, U.S.A., ABS Global is the world-leading provider of bovine genetics, reproduction services, artificial insemination technologies, and udder care products. Marketing in more than 70 countries around the globe, ABS has been at the forefront of animal genetics and technology since its founding in 1941. ABS Global is a division of Genus plc.

TCA Spring Internship Application Available

Internship Outline

DDUxBZWVYAAC4sEThe Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association is the certified nonprofit organization that provides the cattlemen and women of Tennessee with an organization through which they may function collectively to protect their interests and work towards the solution of cattle industry problems.

This internship program is offered as either a full-time or part-time program depending on the applicant’s availability. The full-time internship will run from approximately January 8 through April 30 and will be Monday-Friday at 40 hours per week. The part-time internship will be a 12-15 hour per week position structured around the student’s class schedule during the 2018 spring semester.  Occasional evening and weekend work may be required.

Responsibilities will include assisting with the annual convention and trade show, producing content for our magazine, and attending committee hearings while the Tennessee General Assembly is in session. Applicants with a background in cattle production and agriculture are encouraged to apply.  In addition, candidates should have a motivated work ethic, be well organized, able to work independently and have excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Internship Criteria

Students interested in participating in the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association internship must be enrolled in a Tennessee university, be currently enrolled in Communications, Agriculture or have a background in agriculture and have an overall GPA of 2.5. Junior status or above is preferred.

Application Procedures

Submit a resume, any required university forms, and the TCA Internship application form to Charles Hord: Charles@tncattle.org by October 16, 2017 CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM.

Internship candidates who are selected for an interview will be notified by October 30, 2017.

Thank you for your interest in the TCA Spring Internship Program.

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association – 530 B Brandies Circle, Murfreesboro, TN 37128, (615) 896 2333.

Ag in the Foothills on Display October 6

Black Angus on pasture at East TN AgResearch and Education Center webBlount County Event Focuses on Beef, Forage, Small Acreages, Beginning Farmers and Veterans

Everyone is invited to visit the University of Tennessee’s East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on October 6 for the Ag in the Foothills Field Day. The free event will be held from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the center’s Blount Unit located at 4341 UT Farm Road in Louisville.

Ag in the Foothills will introduce visitors to some of the research efforts ongoing at the center and present educational seminars on topics such as soil health and forage production as well as a live animal handling demonstration. Those who own small-acreage tracts will be interested in presentations that focus on these topics:

  • Small Poultry Flock Management
  • Bee Health
  • Small Ruminant Management
  • Marketing
  • Buying a Tractor

Of particular community interest will be a special session that will focus on beginning farmers and veterans as farmers. Members from Tennessee AgrAbility Project, Tennessee State University’s Small Farm Veteran Outreach, and Homegrown by Heroes will be on hand to discuss resources available as well as the potential formation of a Tennessee State Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC).
The free event will also feature a trade show and lunch. Preregister at your local county UT Extension Office for a lunch ticket. For more information call the East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at 865-974-7201.  Those who arrive early will be treated to biscuits and coffee while supplies last.

Details about the event and directions are available online at east.tennessee.edu.

The East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 research facilities operated by UT AgResearch as part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. Through its mission of research, teaching, and service, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.

Apply for the Angus Foundation Talon Youth Education Learning Program Internship—As a Host or Intern

Applications for the educational summer internship are available.

Angus cattle in a pasture in Southeastern Georgia.If you’re looking for a unique summer internship experience, the Angus Foundation can help. Applications are still available for the Talon Youth Education Learning Program internship on the Angus Foundation website for host Angus breeders and Angus youth.

“The Talon internship program is truly one of a kind in the Angus industry,” says Milford Jenkins, Angus Foundation president. “It gives one lucky student the opportunity to experience ranch management first hand—an invaluable experience. Angus breeders get to work with an up and coming leader in the industry. It’s a win-win scenario for both.”

      Host Angus breeders get the opportunity to teach the intern about different areas of the Angus industry, from cattle showing and veterinary tasks to fence maintenance and irrigation and more. They also can expose the intern to educational events and activities off the farm, such as seminars, field days, etc. The Talon intern host Angus breeder application can be accessed here: www.angusfoundation.org. Applications are due September 15.

College sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent college graduates who are not older than 25 who have majored in an agriculture-related field are eligible to apply. Applicants must be in good standing with either the American Angus Association or the National Junior Angus Association (NJAS). Angus youth can apply for the Talon internship program at www.angusfoundation.org and submit an application by December 1 to the Events and Education department.

      The Talon Youth Education Learning Program internship is the legacy of Camron “Cam” Cooper of Talon Ranch. Cooper set up the Angus/Talon Youth Education Learning Program Endowment Fund in 2009 to be a holistic educational experience for students. The internship program pairs motivated Angus youth with working registered Angus breeders/ranches to provide youth valuable education and work experience for a summer. The internship program is open to college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent college graduates under age 25 who are majoring in an agricultural field of study.

      In 2017, Jessica Janssen, Fowler, Ind., was selected as the first Talon Youth Education Learning Program intern. She completed an internship with Maher Angus Ranch, Morristown, S.D. Janssen, a 12-year member of the NJAS and Indiana Junior Angus Association, is starting her senior year at Purdue University, where she’s pursuing an Animal Science degree to meet her career goal of becoming a beef nutritionist.

      For more information on the Angus Foundation, visit www.angusfoundation.org.

Junior Leaders: Apply to Become the Angus Ambassador

Submit an application by September 15 to be considered for the NJAA ambassador position.

njaa_boardThe National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) is beginning its search for the next Angus Ambassador. It’s an elite position that provides an opportunity for a one-year term as spokesperson for the NJAA’s nearly 6,000 members, and connects with cattle producers, consumers and industry professionals nationwide. Applications are available online and must be submitted by Sept. 15.

“As the Angus Ambassador, one junior member is given the opportunity to take his or her passion for Angus cattle to the next level by networking with other Angus producers and beef industry professionals, and by traveling to and attending a variety of engaging events over the course of the year,” says Jaclyn Clark, American Angus Association Director of Events and Education.

Currently serving as the 2017 Angus Ambassador is Cassandra Garcia of Renton, Washington. Garcia is a student at the University of Washington Tacoma studying business marketing. She says she hopes that one day her education in the area of business will allow her to contribute to the “Business Breed” in a meaningful way.

“The ambassador program has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has given me the chance to expand my understanding of this industry”, says Garcia. “Whether it was networking at events, being that bridge between consumers and producers, or representing the Angus breed in the best way possible, it has helped me to grow as an individual in an industry that I love.”

The chosen Angus Ambassador will travel to the following events:

  • Angus Convention in Fort Worth, Texas (candidates);
  • Certified Angus Beef® Building Blocks Seminar in Wooster, Ohio;
  • NCBA Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.;
  • Beef Improvement Federation Annual Research Symposium and Convention in Loveland, Colorado; and
  • Guiding Outstanding Angus Leaders (GOAL) Conference in Canada.

Additonal and existing travel may vary based on the selected ambassador’s location, schedule, and availability.

To be eligible for the Angus Ambassador competition, applicants must be Association members in good standing, between the ages 17-20 as of Jan. 1, who own purebred Angus cattle. They must submit a cover letter, résumé, and two essay responses. Applications can be found online.

Garcia encourages all junior members to apply for the position: “We need strong leaders to represent our association. If you’re thinking about applying, go ahead and do it! I believe all NJAA members have what it takes to become the next great representative of our breed.”

All applications must be postmarked by Sept. 15 and sent to the Association’s Events and Education Department, 3201 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, MO 64506.

Once the applications are reviewed, five finalists will be invited to the Angus Convention to participate in the final round of competition, which includes an interview and formal presentation with a panel of judges. The new Angus Ambassador will be chosen at the Awards Recognition Breakfast on Nov. 6.

For more information, please visit the NJAA website at www.angus.org/njaa.

Southeastern Farmer of the Year 2017

farmer of the yearAt Sugartree Farms near Belvidere, Tenn., Mike Robinson has built a successful family row crop and beef cattle farm. He also owns Sugartree Feeds, a store that adds value to some of his grain, hay and straw.

A farmer for 35 years, Robinson owns 1,108 acres and rents 2,350 acres. He grows corn on 1,200 acres, wheat on 420 acres and oats on 106 acres. He raises full season soybeans on 1,056 acres and double-cropped soybeans on 594 acres. He also raises 250 acres of hay, has about 200 acres in pasture and raises timber on 158 acres.

As a result of his success as a row crop and beef cattle producer, Robinson has been selected as the state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. He joins nine other individuals as finalists for the overall award that will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Sunbelt Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

His cattle herd includes 125 cows, primarily Angus. The herd produced 120 calves last year that he sold at 600 pounds. The herd includes five registered Angus bulls. He increased his cattle numbers last year when he bought a new herd. He retains about 10% of his heifers as replacements.

Until 2004, he ran a dairy and milked Jersey cows. Robinson converted his milk barn into the feed store where he sells a portion of the farm’s corn and hay.

With last year’s corn yields at 180 bushels per acre for dryland and 230 bushels per acre for irrigated land, he placed third in both no-till irrigated and dryland categories of the National Corn Growers Association’s state yield contest.  He uses chicken litter to reduce fertilizer costs on some of his corn.

His full season soybeans yielded 55 bushels per acre and his doublecropped soybeans yielded 50 bushels per acre. His wheat produced 90 bushels per acre and his oats yielded 100 bushels per acre.

He also grows wheat for hay and straw, and rye for straw. His hay includes orchardgrass and a new alfalfa planting. One of his best tools is a Bale Bandit that can bundle 21 bales at a time, and is a big labor saver when handling and shipping hay and straw. He also adopted precision farming technology such as automated steering, yield monitoring and a sprayer system that prevents overlaps.

Robinson considers timber an important commodity, and uses a forestry consultant to determine when to cut trees. He recently sold red cedar logs to an Amish buyer for use in manufactured wood products.

“Marketing is important for my business,” says Robinson. He uses a marketing consultant and sells most of his grain directly to processors or end users, though some is sold at the farm feed store. Where crop share leases are involved, he often markets grain at local elevators.

He has about 225,000 bushels of grain storage, and stores about 190,000 bushels of corn, 30,000 bushels of soybeans and 5,000 bushels of wheat.

He sells about 27,000 bushels of corn and 12,000 small bales of hay at the store. He also mixes oats, corn, alfalfa and molasses to make feeds for cattle, goats and horses that he sells from the store. He even makes a special quail feed.

The store is also a retailer for Farm King equipment such as grain augers, grain vacuums, nitrogen applicators, tedders and disc mowers. Robinson sees the feed store and machinery dealership as businesses his children can operate while staying on the farm.

A spring storm blew off a portion of the roof at the feed store. That forced Robinson to move the store to the other end of the old dairy barn that turned out to be a better location for the store.

Robinson was young when he started farming. One of his first farm jobs as a child was stacking hay. His dad worked in a heating and air conditioning business and had a 35-acre farm on the side. “I milked a Jersey cow in high school, and sold milk to our neighbors,” says Robinson. “That led me to selling milk to another dairy farm and working for them.” He ended up buying the dairy he worked for.

He borrowed money from his grandfather, and bought 18 acres while in the 11th grade. “As a youth, I had a dream of being a full time farmer,” he says. “Today my wife and I are living our dream.”

Robinson occasionally provides custom farm work to neighboring farms. He has been adding irrigation, and plans to expand irrigation on a farm he bought with river access.

Robinson has been a 30-year Farm Bureau member. He served on the Franklin County Soil Conservation District board, and a Farm Credit advisory board. He was on the board of CFW Waste Management, a local group that promotes animal waste utilization while protecting the environment. He was a member of the Franklin County Livestock Association and a supporter of Farm-City activities.

He has been active in state Farm Bureau and the Cattlemen’s Association activities, and has attended Tennessee and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives meetings.  He has been an American Farm Bureau voting delegate and a member of the National Corn Growers Association.

Mike and his wife Krislyn have been active in Lexie Church of Christ where they help with youth activities. Krislyn is a former teacher and a big help on the farm, according to Mike. In high school she partnered with an uncle in raising hogs. “I wanted to marry a farmer, and I got one,” she says. Krislyn is active in Franklin County Farm Bureau Women, Farm-City activities and has been a supporter of Winchester Christian Academy and Riverside Christian Academy.

They have four children. Twin sons Tracy and Kary are young adults, and daughters KayLee and Callie Pearl are teens. In high school, the twins excelled in robot design competition, a skill that serves them well now on the farm. They’ve designed improved parts for the Bale Bandit and a feed bagging system for use at the store.

KayLee has been active in 4-H and runs sideline businesses selling eggs and raising sweet corn. This summer, KayLee is working at a veterinary clinic. Callie Pearl also is active in 4-H, sold rabbits she raised, helps sell eggs and also helps run the family’s Dachshund dog breeding sideline business. The twin boys started the dog breeding business and passed it on to their sisters.

KayLee also keeps horses for pleasure riding. The family also raises Halflingers, a small breed of draft horse that they occasionally use to till their garden.

Mike says he wouldn’t be surprised to see his sons and daughters someday significantly expand the family’s on-farm feed store.

Robert Burns with the Tennessee Cooperative Extension Service coordinates the Farmer of the Year award in the state. Robinson was nominated for the honor by C. Dallas Manning, Extension area farm management specialist.  “Mike and his family are excellent resource managers and they operate with little hired labor,” says Manning.

Ed Burns, Extension agent in Franklin County, Tenn., admires how Robinson’s family members are so supportive of the farm.

As the Tennessee state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Robinson will now receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize that will go to the overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, another $500 gift certificate from Southern States, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, a smoker-grill from Hays LTI and a Henry Golden Boy “American Farmer Tribute Edition” rifle from Reinke Irrigation.

Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 28th consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $1,080,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.

Previous state winners from Tennessee include:  James R. Graham of Newport, 1990; Burl Ottinger of Parrottsville, 1991; Dwaine Peters of Madisonville, 1992; Edward Wilson of Cleveland, 1993; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 1994; Bobby W. Vannatta of Bell Buckle, 1995; George McDonald of Riddleton, 1996; Jimmy Gaylord of Sharon, 1997; Jimmy Tosh of Henry, 1998; Eugene Pugh, Jr. of Halls, 1999; Harris Armour of Somerville, 2000; Malcolm Burchfiel of Newbern, 2001; Ed Rollins of Pulaski, 2002; John Smith of Puryear, 2003; Austin Anderson of Manchester, 2004; John Litz of Morristown, 2005; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 2006; Grant Norwood of Paris, 2007; Jerry Ray of Tullahoma, 2008; Richard Atkinson of Belvidere, 2009; Brad Black of Vonore, 2010;  Mac Pate of Maryville, 2011; Steve Dixon of Estill Springs, 2012;  Richard Jameson of Brownsville, 2013; John Keller of Maryville, 2014; George Clay of Pelham, 2015; and James Haskew of South Pittsburg, 2016.

Tennessee has had two overall winners, Jimmy Tosh of Henry in 1998 and Bob Willis of Hillsboro in 2006.

A distinguished panel of judges will visit Robinson’s farm and the farms of the other nine state finalists during the week of Aug. 7-11. The judges this year include farmer Thomas Porter, Jr., of Concord, N.C., who was the overall winner in 2011; Charles Snipes, retired Mississippi Extension weed scientist from Greenville, Miss.; and beef cattle rancher Cary Lightsey of Lake Wales, Fla., who was the overall winner in 2009.