Tag Archives: Finis Stribling

TSU New Farmer Academy highlights hemp production

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Prospective farmers from across the country learned about hemp production at Tennessee State University’s New Farmer Academy on Monday.

The Academy class, the only one of its kind in Tennessee, meets at the Pavilion Agricultural Research and Education Center (The Farm) near the main campus.

Finis Stribling, TSU area extension specialist and Academy coordinator, speaks to participants about hemp. (TSU Media Relations)

Participants come together the third Monday in each month over seven months and cover topics that include agricultural leadership and regulations, financial planning, hydroponics and irrigation, and organic production.

On Aug. 19, there was a special discussion about hemp, the new cash crop in Tennessee and abroad. According to recent licensing data, about 4,000 Tennessee farmers and businesses are licensed to grow hemp or cannabidiol (CBD). Collectively, that’s about 40,000 acres of hemp across the state.

Finis Stribling is the Academy’s coordinator and a TSU area extension specialist. He said some of the farmers in his class have already started producing hemp, and others are curious.

“It’s a niche crop that can be utilized for small scale farmers,” Stribling said. “A lot of farmers are growing an acre, half-acre, or quarter-acre just to gain some experience.”

Stribling said part of the discussion on Monday will involve economic data on hemp, such as, “how much money it would take to grow an acre of hemp.”

For instance, a license to grow a minimum of 1 to 5 acres of hemp costs $250.

Karla Kean is the TSU extension agent for horticulture and small farms in Montgomery County. She was one of the hemp presenters at the Academy class, which wraps up next month.

She urged those interested in growing hemp to learn as much as they can about it, and start with a small amount of acres if they haven’t farmed or gardened before.

Products made from hemp. (TSU College of Agriculture)

“Make sure you’ve done your research,” she said. “There’s a lot more to learn about it, more so than a commodity crop like soybeans or corn.”

Ashley Richmond of Chicago has been traveling to Nashville each month to attend the Academy. A Nashville native, she and her family have a 10-acre farm in Cross Plains, Tennessee. They use one acre for hemp.

Richmond said one of the main reasons she’s interested in hemp is because some of the senior members of her family currently use it for medicinal purposes.

“Just seeing some aging family members around me who have issues with pain,” she said. “So I thought it was a good idea to get into the industry myself. It provides help for people who are in my life.”

Tennessee State is among the nation’s leaders in hemp research. TSU’s College of Agriculture has hosted several hemp workshops, and has charged a team of scientists to develop hemp production practices for Tennessee. The research projects include developing hemp nutritional products for human consumption and studying the economic viability of hemp production. Currently, the university is growing and evaluating 10 varieties of hemp.

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Ag officials hope tariffs not long term

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University agriculture officials say they hope President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods is not long term.

Last month, Trump announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would go up from 10 percent to 25 percent. The U.S. has also begun investigating whether $300 billion of other Chinese goods could be subject to tariffs.

And last week, the president announced a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods, starting June 10, if that country does not substantially halt illegal immigration across the border.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, said the tariffs are affecting producers, and that federal government subsidies may not be enough to help farmers who have to take out loans to make ends meet.

Trump unveiled a $16 billion bailout last month for farmers hurt by the trade war.

“It’s very unfortunate that agriculture gets caught in this crossfire,” Reddy said. “It’s not good for us, not good for the rest of the world. Hopefully this is short term.”

Finis Stribling is an area extension specialist and coordinator of the New Farmer Academy at TSU. He and a friend have a farm that grows cotton, corn, soybeans and rice, and they’re feeling the effect of the tariffs.

However, Stribling noted that vegetable farmers are not really affected right now, because they can set their prices.

“It just depends on what part of agriculture you’re in, whether it’s the vegetable market, the livestock market, or the grain market,” he said.

Farm groups have warned the White House against proposed new tariffs on Mexico, saying they could trigger retaliatory trade actions from Mexico and again impede exports to one of the top markets for U.S. crops and meat.  

The National Pork Producers Council, a trade group, estimated that tariffs over the last year from Mexico and China so far have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion.

Despite the trade war, there is still interest in farming. Currently, more than 50 prospective farmers from across the country are participating in TSU’s New Farmer Academy, which covers topics like hydroponics and irrigation, farm equipment selection, and organic production.

Brian MacDonald travels from Orange County, California, to attend the seven-month class that meets the third Monday in each month. He said he’s aware of the effect tariffs are having on farmers, but he’s not letting it discourage him from becoming an organic farmer.

“I have this dream of owning a farm,” said MacDonald, who is a retired president and chief financial officer for an electronics company. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the last couple of years.”

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

College of agriculture’s New Farmer Academy attracts participants from across the country

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 50 prospective farmers from across the country are participating in Tennessee State University’s New Farmer Academy

The seven-month program was started by the university’s College of Agriculture in 2014. Participants meet the third Monday in each month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cover topics that include agricultural leadership and regulations, financial planning, hydroponics and irrigation, organic production, farm equipment selection, soil fertility and suitability, and value-added agribusiness.

Finis Stribling, TSU area extension specialist and Academy coordinator, speaks to participants. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

The Academy, which also offers classes in West and East Tennessee, is the only one of its kind in Tennessee. Its first year, the program had nine participants. This year, 52 are enrolled in the Middle Tennessee class, which will finish in September.

“Every year we’ve been growing and growing,” said Finis Stribling, TSU area extension specialist and coordinator of the New Farmer Academy. “There’s a lot of interest.”

Brian MacDonald traveled from Orange County, California, to attend this year’s Academy. After visiting Tennessee several years ago, he decided it is a place where he would like to retire, and do some organic farming.

“I have this dream of owning a farm,” said MacDonald, who is a retired president and chief financial officer for an electronics company. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the last couple of years.”

With the help of the Academy, MacDonald plans to make that dream a reality when he permanently moves to Tennessee, as early as next year.

Academy participant Ashley Brooks of Chicago is also hoping to start farming soon. She’s interested in growing hemp, and developing products from it, as well as using its oil for medical uses.    

“Hemp has been proven to help with different conditions, like pain,” said Brooks, a TSU alum who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. “I have aging family members who have used the oil, and they say it relieves their pain tremendously.”

John Ferrell, TSU extension agent for Franklin County, Tennessee, talks to participants about irrigation. (Photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

Tennessee State is among the nation’s leaders in hemp research. TSU’s College of Agriculture has hosted several hemp workshops, and has charged a team of scientists to develop hemp production practices for Tennessee. The research projects include developing hemp nutritional products for human consumption and studying the economic viability of hemp production. Currently, the university is growing and evaluating 10 varieties of hemp.

“TSU wants to be at the forefront of this new interest that’s cropping up across the country,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture. “If it’s ever approved for large scale use, we have some knowledge about it and can work with the farmers.”

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.