Dr. Keith Carver, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin, is one of 14 members of a newly created UT Commission on Agriculture, announced Aug. 21 by UT System Interim President Randy Boyd. Parks Wells, executive director of the Tennessee Soybean Festival Promotion Council, is also serving as one of four rotating representatives of various agricultural associations and organizations. Wells, a UT Martin graduate, lives in Martin.
The commission was created to further partnerships and collaborations between UT System leadership and key leaders of the agricultural community. Building on the foundation created by the UT Institute of Agriculture, the commission will leverage the system’s collective strengths to support the state’s agricultural industry and its communities; focus on collaborations to contribute to the success of the agricultural economy; and serve as an advocate for agriculture across the state and throughout the nation.
“I believe it is critically important that all UT leadership who support and work with agriculture hear regularly from the people, communities and industries we serve to fully leverage our strengths in meeting their needs,” said Boyd. “It is equally important that we work together to provide research, education and outreach that contributes to the future success of the rapidly changing agricultural economy.”
The commission will meet twice per year, and meetings will be open to the public. Dr. Tim Cross, senior vice president and senior vice chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriculture, will preside over meetings and prioritize issues for its attention.
“This is an excellent opportunity to bring together key leaders of Tennessee agriculture to focus on how the University of Tennessee and the UT Institute of Agriculture can continue to support farmers, producers and the communities where they live,” said Cross. “The UT Commission on Agriculture will provide important feedback on the challenges and opportunities these groups face to ensure that our education, research and extension/outreach programs are addressing critical issues.”
In addition to Carver, Wells, Boyd and Cross, commission members include:
- Donde Plowman, chancellor of UT Knoxville
- Jeff Aiken, president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau
- Charlie Hatcher, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture
- Curtis Halford, chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Tennessee House of Representatives
- State Sen. Steve Southerland, chair of the Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Tennessee General Assembly
- Reggie Marshall, president, Tennessee Fruit and Vegetable Association
- Jim Bledsoe, member, Tennessee Poultry Association
- Jennifer Houston, president, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
- Chairs of the UT Institute of Agriculture’s three regional advisory councils
- Dave Fugate, chair, Eastern Region Advisory Council
- Joe Huffine, chair, Middle Region Advisory Council
- John Charles Wilson, chair, Western Region Advisory Council
- Johnny Heard, past president, Tennessee Forestry Association (at-large appointment)
UT System Associate Vice President and Director of State Relations Carey Whitworth will also serve as secretary to the commission in order to contribute to the commission’s goal of statewide advocacy.
To learn more about the commission, visit president.tennessee.edu.