The Tennessee Master Beef Producer Program has received the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture 2021 Partnership Award for Effective and Efficient Use of Resources. A project of University of Tennessee Extension, partners in the program include the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
Each year, USDA-NIFA presents Partnership Awards to recognize outstanding contributions aligned with NIFA strategic goals and that support the USDA mission. For calendar year 2021, the nominating committee solicited nominees from across the USDA-NIFA stakeholder base, and winners were selected from these categories:
- Mission Integration or Research, Education or Extension Multistate Efforts
- Innovative Programs and Projects
The Tennessee Master Beef Producer Program Team was selected as the 2021 winner in Category IV: Effective and Efficient Use of Resources.
This award recognizes the cooperation on the part of UTIA research and veterinary medicine faculty, Extension specialists and agents as they work with industry to address clientele needs. Ashley Stokes, dean of UT Extension, says the team’s effort is a shining example of how UTIA works to produce excellent outcomes for producers.
“Not only is this collaborative program extremely beneficial and impactful for our producers, but it also serves as a model that others have followed when building innovative partnerships to advance opportunities for those in agriculture. In 2020, the total economic impact of this program was estimated at more than $22.7 million in savings and additional revenue with more than 3,000 producers certified that year. This UT Extension program for beef cattle production and management continues to enhance the lives and livelihood of Tennessee’s beef producers. Congratulations to this team for USDA-NIFA’s recognition of this strong program.”
The Tennessee Master Beef Producer Program is designed to provide targeted educational presentations and hands-on demonstrations for a broad scope of topic areas in beef cattle production.
One of the leaders of the project, Justin Rhinehart, assistant dean of UT Extension, said, “Our objective is to provide Tennessee cattle producers with information and experience that can improve profitability while simultaneously making more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.”
Rhinehart and an extensive team of other UT Extension professionals, researchers and veterinarians have worked seamlessly to provide training to the state’s cattle producers to help them evaluate how their current management practices impact their ability to continue profitable cattle farming for future generations.
The production of cattle and calves in Tennessee is consistently among the state’s top agricultural enterprises.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture uses the Tennessee Master Beef Producer Program as an educational component of their Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement cost-share program. The educational sessions are county-based and delivered by local UT Extension agriculture and natural resources agents. Rhinehart says these two features were the basis of the award application.
“Pairing USDA funding with financial support from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has created a delivery model that leverages the creativity and knowledge of educators in Tennessee’s 95 counties as well as the UTIA academic departments. The effort is continually improving and tailored to local communities while maintaining consistency with regard to the core management principles taught,” he added.
Another of the team leaders, Neal Schrick, head of the UT Department of Animal Science, said sustainability of the beef industry is critical to the state and to the future of the nation.
“We are working together to ensure that cow-calf producers have a voice in describing sustainability and are prepared for a beef market that rewards sustainably produced calves.”
Schrick also says Tennessee producers have been actively engaged in sustainable production techniques long before ‘sustainable production’ was an industry priority.
The program’s team includes faculty from multiple UTIA departments and backgrounds, including animal science, agricultural economics, plant sciences and biosystems engineering as well as entomology and plant pathology. The program provides training to improve economic, generational, and natural resource sustainability. Educational topics include:
- Beef Products
- Economics and Budgeting
- Facilities and Cattle Handling
- Genetic Selection
- Marketing and Business Management
The award was presented during a virtual awards ceremony on Oct. 6.