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Boyd announces creation of the UT Commission on Agriculture

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UT interim president Randy Boyd meets with the first class of UT REACH students on the campus of UTIA
UT Interim President Randy Boyd meets UTIA Vice President Tim Cross (far left) and the first class of REACH students in Knoxville, on June 24, 2019

KNOXVILLE – University of Tennessee System Interim President Randy Boyd has announced the creation of the UT Commission on Agriculture to further partnerships and collaborations between UT System leadership and key leaders of the agriculture community.

“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,” Boyd said. “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 UT Commission on Agriculture will provide a new platform to accomplish this critically important work.”

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; continually focus on collaborations to contribute to the success of the rapidly changing agricultural economy; and serve as advocates for agriculture across the state, nation and world.

The Commission will meet twice per year and meetings will be open to the public. Tim Cross, senior vice president and senior vice chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriculture, will preside over the 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,” Cross said. “The UT Commission on Agriculture will provide important feedback on the challenges and opportunities these important groups face to ensure that our education, research and Extension/outreach programs are addressing critical issues.”

In addition to Boyd and Cross, the following individuals will make up the newly-formed Commission:

  • Donde Plowman, chancellor of UT Knoxville
  • Keith Carver, chancellor of UT Martin
  • Jeff Aiken, president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau
  • Charlie Hatcher, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Rep. Curtis Halford, chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Tennessee House of Representatives
  • Sen. Steve Southerland, chair of the Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, Tennessee Senate
  • Leaders from four rotating agricultural associations and organizations:
    • Parks Wells, executive director, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council
    • 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


  • One at-large appointment:
    • Johnny Heard, past president, Tennessee Forestry Association

Because a key component of the Commission’s work will be advocacy, Boyd has asked UT System Associate Vice President and Director of State Relations Carey Whitworth to serve as secretary to the Commission.



Melissa Tindell
P267 Andy Holt Tower, 1331 Circle Park, Knoxville, TN 37996

Jennifer Sicking
P265 Andy Holt Tower, 1331 Circle Park, Knoxville, TN 37996

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Category: Headlines