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37,288 reasons to celebrate

Co-op, Tennessee Beef Industry Council team up for July Beef Month events, promotions saluting the state’s cattle producers
Story and photos by: Chris Villines 8/7/2019


Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Feed Specialist Gary Williams, left, and TFC Animal Health Procurement Manager Devon Jones man the grills at Beef & Burger Days on July 8 at Wilson Farmers Cooperative in Lebanon. Nine other Beef & Burger Days events were held across the state July 8-12 as Co-op and the Tennessee Beef Industry Council partnered to celebrate beef producers.
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There are 37,288 beef producers in Tennessee. Divide that number by the 95 counties in the state, and it calculates to roughly 392 producers per county.

Yeah, beef’s kind of a big deal here.

And the hard-working men and women who spend their days — and many nights, too — ensuring that a quality supply of beef is available to put on dinner tables deserve recognition for their efforts.

With that in mind, and with Governor Bill Lee declaring July as Beef Month in Tennessee, Co-op and the Tennessee Beef Industry Council (TBIC) partnered together for a multi-pronged series of giveaways, promotions, and events to celebrate the state’s cattle producers.

“We wanted to do something to help promote beef production, which is one of Tennessee’s largest agricultural commodities, and to help the Tennessee Beef Industry Council share with producers all the ways their beef checkoff dollars are utilized,” said John Houston, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative’s Feed and Animal Health sales manager. “Co-op is involved in all facets of beef production through our ability to supply beef producers with virtually every input needed for the beef we consume each day. It’s incumbent upon all of us — Co-op, TBIC, and beef producers — to educate consumers about the advantages of consuming beef.”

Valerie Bass, executive director of the TBIC, called the partnership “a great way to highlight July Beef Month and thank cattle producers for what they do every day.”

“These farmers raise a quality product that consumers enjoy,” said Valerie who, along with her staff at TBIC, helps inform and educate consumers about the healthful benefits of beef. “We’re proud of the more than 37,000 cattle producers in Tennessee and happy to team up with Co-op to salute them.”

Headlining July Beef Month activities were “Beef & Burgers Days” held July 8-12 at 10 different Co-op locations across Tennessee: Wilson Farmers Co-op, Lebanon and Bedford Moore, Shelbyville on July 8; Greene, Greeneville and Washington, Jonesborough on July 9; AgCentral, Athens and Jefferson, Dandridge on July 10; Warren, McMinnville and Lincoln, Fayetteville on July 11; and First Farmers, Lexington and Lawrence, Lawrenceburg, July 12.

Each Beef & Burger Days stop offered visitors free, freshly grilled hamburgers and beef hot dogs, giveaways, and the opportunity to sign up for a chance to win a $3,728 Co-op gift card. The Co-ops also ran a special sales promotion on 37 items pertinent to cattle producers (both the gift card amount and number of sale items tied in to the 37,288 figure).

Co-op and TBIC staff and directors were ably assisted at the Beef & Burger events by local FFA and 4-H chapters along with representatives of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

At the opening-day festivities in Lebanon, beef producer and Wilson Farmers Co-op director Jack Pratt was one of more than 225 people in attendance. He was impressed by what he saw.

“I’m glad they’re doing something like this,” said Jack, who runs a commercial beef herd with his wife, Kalee. “We need to keep beef production on the forefront in Tennessee and let people know this is a major industry.”

Brothers Don Simms of Watertown and Doug Simms of Gladeville found a shady spot along the Co-op’s sidewalk to sit and enjoy the food and visit with contemporaries in the beef cattle business.

“This is really nice of [Co-op and TBIC] to do this for us,” said Don. “We’ve got to keep going because there’s a lot of publicity being given to plant-based [imitation] meat. People need to know where the real meat comes from.”

Nodding his head in agreement, Doug adds, “I like the fact that an event like this gets everybody together where we can discuss different things about our cattle operations. Maybe someone is having a problem, and you can talk to each other about it. It’s a great way to fellowship.”

Don and Doug were soon joined at their sidewalk seat by longtime friend and Tennessee Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Keith Harrison, who is also a fellow Wilson County cattleman.

“Anytime we can draw attention to the beef cattle business in Tennessee, it’s a positive thing,” Keith said. “We appreciate Co-op and the Tennessee Beef Industry Council taking an active role in July Beef Month and recognizing beef producers here and at all the other stops. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

John reported that the 10 Beef & Burgers Days events attracted more than 3,000 customers.

“It gave folks a chance to enjoy the beef they help produce and visit with TBIC staff and their Co-op friends,” he said. “It was a terrific way for Co-op and TBIC to say thanks for all our beef producers do!”

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