Jai Templeton’s family has been farming in west Tennessee for six generations. That means he is no stranger to downturns in the farm economy. But the loss of 50 percent of net farm income nationally in the last six years has given him pause.
That’s what Templeton, Tennessee’s commissioner of agriculture, wanted to talk about during an AgDay speech at the Memphis, Tenn., Agricenter’s Farmers Market. In Tennessee, net farm income has actually dropped from $1.4 billion in 2011 to $192 million last year.
Despite that, Tennessee’s farm economy remains strong and few farms have actually gone out of business. Whether the farms – particularly dairy and tobacco – can continue to weather the current downturn is a major issue, according to Templeton, who still lives on his family’s farm near Adamsville in McNairy County, Tenn., with his family.