UT Extension Agent Wins National Award for Livestock Work

Michael Barry 2015When it comes to helping farmers produce Tennessee’s top agricultural commodity, Michael Barry is among the best in the nation. Just ask his peers – Extension agents from across the country.

Barry, formerly a University of Tennessee Extension agent in DeKalb County and now UT Extension Director for Davidson County, received the Search for Excellence in Livestock Production Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) this past week at the organization’s conference in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 2015 marks the 100th annual meeting of this organization, which has thousands of members nationwide. Barry is one of just three agents to receive the livestock award.

Barry is being honored by NACAA for his work with beef cattle producers in DeKalb County, where he was headquartered the past four years. There he worked with hundreds of cattle farmers in UT Extension’s Master Beef Producer and Beef Quality Assurance programs, providing educational programming for farmers on topics such as herd health, marketing and forage production. DeKalb County farmers recently sold more than 6,000 calves as part of these programs. Barry was also a leader in creating the DeKalb County Cattlemen’s Association.

“I am truly honored to receive the Search for Excellence award from the National County Ag Agent’s Association,” Barry says. “I was fortunate to work with some great beef cattle producers in DeKalb County who enjoyed participating in Extension programs. Helping them create the DeKalb County Cattlemen’s Association was definitely a highlight of my time in the county.”

In 2014 – under the leadership of Barry – DeKalb County beef producers also received approval for $275,000 in grant funding from the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, which is administered by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. This was an increase in funding of more than 50 percent over the previous three years. Studies show that for every dollar invested by TAEP, it generates $3.89 in the state’s rural economies. Barry reports an indirect economic impact to DeKalb County of more than $1 million.

DeKalb County producers were quick to congratulate Barry on this honor. “We have asked Mr. Barry for advice about our cattle operation numerous times, and he has always been a trusted source of information,” says Jayma Holcomb of the DeKalb County Cattlemen’s Association.

Barry was recently named UT Extension Director for Davidson County. He has worked for UT Extension more than 20 years, with service also in Warren and White counties, and his job duties included both ag and 4-H assignments. He also was recently named as one of three statewide winners of the T AAA & S Hicks Award, named for former UT Extension Dean Billy Hicks, and he currently serves on UT Extension’s Increasing Visibility Team, which is involved in the marketing of the organization.

“Michael is a great example of what many of our agents are doing all across the state – using research-based information to help advance the beef industry in Tennessee,” says UT Extension Dean Tim Cross.

Beef cattle farming is among Tennessee’s top agricultural enterprises, generating more half a billion dollars a year in revenue. Our state has more than 1.7 million beef cattle statewide, being tended by some 45,000 producers. Tennessee ranks fourth in the nation for the number of cow-calf producers behind Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; the UT College of Veterinary Medicine; UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers; and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.

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