To emphasize the significance of agriculture on the life and economy of Monroe County, the UT Extension Monroe County, Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Monroe County Cattlemen’s Association (MCCA) hosted an Agriculture Day of farm tours for the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute, showing various farming operations in the county.

After a breakfast of pastries, ham, biscuits and fruit, remarks by County Agent Jonathan Rhea started off the day with statistics on the impact the beef industry and agriculture in general have on the economy of our local area.

Dr. Hugh McCampbell, longtime local large animal veterinarian and president of the MCCA, recounted years of veterinary practice in and around Monroe County, having a major influence on the health and quality of beef and dairy products produced here.

Jason Miller, the district soil conservationist with National Resource Conservation Service, discussed conservation practices and grant projects that have been big factors in the success of agriculture in the county.

The day of tours started at Summitt Hill Farms, which is owned and operated by Eddie Summitt and his family. They background between 2,500 and 3,000 steers a year.

While discussing crop production, cattle handling, management and marketing plans, he spoke about how complicated and involved it can be to put beef on the table and have cattle in the pasture.

A stop at the Davis Dairy, run by Chad and Samantha Craun, allowed tour members to see the varied aspects of running a dairy operation.

Nutrition, calf raising, cow management, reproduction and the actual milking gave an all-around picture of another cattle industry in Monroe County.

Mark and Jennifer Houston of the East Tennessee Livestock Center hosted a steak lunch, sponsored by MCCA.

Jennifer Houston, the current president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, gave a talk about the beef industry on a national and international basis, where she has been involved for the past year.

She travels every week to various state cattle conventions, Washington D.C. for congressional discussions and trips to the White House, plus overseas for many trade negotiation meetings.

McCampbell discussed the Beef Quality Assurance Program and quality beef production, which was followed by a tour of the Stockyards.

After a trip to a hemp farm, the group finished the day with a program about the family operation at East Tennessee Feed and Seed (ETFS) on new Highway 68. They raise much of their grain that they use mixing feed for all types of farm animals and pets.

They have an extensive inventory of feed commodities, and mix feed for clients who live some distances away, like in North Carolina and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and extensively in the local area.

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