agriculture | Nashville Public Radio


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The U.S.-China trade war is going to have a drastic impact on Tennessee’s agricultural exports, worth $1.4 billion as of 2016.

Specifically, soybean farmers will be hit especially hard. Tennessee’s farms exported nearly half a billion dollars worth of soybeans, mostly to China.

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Students in Fayetteville, Tenn., will soon be able to earn an agriculture degree from a university 90 miles away without leaving their Motlow State Community College campus, thanks to a new partnership with Tennessee State University.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

To many, a pound is a pound and a gallon is a gallon. But setting those exact standards is one of the basic functions of government.

It's even in Article I of the U.S. Constitution, alongside coining money.

Now, the state of Tennessee has a new lab — entirely dedicated to checking whether things are being weighed and measured correctly. Last week, the Department of Agriculture opened a new metrology laboratory in Nashville, and it replaces a building that was so out-of-date, federal authorities essentially said Tennesseans couldn't use it.

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President Donald Trump is expected to tout his administration's plans for rural America next week, when he makes his second visit to Middle Tennessee since taking office a year ago.

Julieta Martinelli / WPLN

When Nashville foodies think about goats, they probably don’t imagine a succulent steak. But Tennessee State University says the number of people who see goat meat as a staple in their diet is growing, and their research can help local farmers step in to fill the demand. 

Chas Sisk / WPLN

Some might think that feeding milk to a calf couldn't be all that hard. But ask state Sen. Jim Tracy.

"Easy, easy," the Shelbyville Republican said as he attempted to steady a hungry, month-old Holstein named Raven. "Go baby go. That's good stuff, man, come on."

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Veterinarians in Tennessee are still trying to pinpoint the source of a bird flu outbreak — a process that could take weeks. The highly pathogenic avian influenza was found at a chicken plant in Lincoln County near the Alabama border. There is little risk to humans.

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Tobacco is still the biggest cash crop in many Tennessee fields, as it's been for generations.

But farmers are looking for other options that aren't quite so difficult to grow. And some, like David Fulton in Robertson County, are turning to an unusual crop: indigo — the plant that can be used to dye denim. 

Chas Sisk / WPLN

Cows, tractors and crates of sweet potatoes lined the entrance to Legislative Plaza, and House and Senate leaders squared off for a corn-shelling contest in the General Assembly's annual Ag Day celebration.

A three-person team led by House Speaker Beth Harwell used an old-fashioned, hand-crank sheller to drop just over five pounds of kernels into its bucket in a minute's time. That was a few ounces more than the Senate team — though, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a part-time farmer, tried to save face by claiming he'd gone easy on Harwell.