Tennessee FFA Ham Breakfast raises a record-breaking $200k to support Future Farmers

Business leaders, top state officials, and philanthropic-minded agriculturalists united at the Tennessee State Fair to empower the next generation of agricultural leaders, raising a record-breaking sum of $200,000 at this year’s Tennessee FFA Ham Breakfast.

In a resounding show of support for the next generation of agricultural leaders, the Eighth Annual Tennessee State Fair FFA Ham Breakfast proved to be a resounding success.

With a sold-out crowd of over 1,200 attendees, which included business luminaries, government officials, farmers, and enthusiastic FFA members, the event showcased the group’s unwavering commitment to fostering the growth of young agriculturists.

This exceptional gathering, presented by Farm Credit Mid-America, not only brought together diverse voices from the agricultural and business sectors but also managed to raise an impressive $200,000 in support of the FFA’s vital initiatives.

The event’s distinguished lineup of speakers was headlined by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) CEO Jeff Lyash. Sharing the stage were renowned figures such as Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Lee, U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, and Reps. Andy Ogles (TN-5), and John Rose (TN-6). The collective presence of these influential voices underscored the significance of the event and the FFA’s role in shaping the future of agriculture.

Among the festivities, the spotlight shined on Lee Todd, of Germantown, Tenn., who was honored with the prestigious Tennessee FFA Lifetime Achievement Award. A luminary in his own right, Todd recounted his time serving as both a State and National FFA Officer in the 1950s, which he says jump-started his lifelong dedication to agriculture and led him on a journey into his current impact role as the Executive Director of the Cotton Ginners Association. Todd’s connection to the Tennessee FFA Sponsoring Committee further exemplifies his commitment to nurturing the industry’s growth.

A focal point of the event was the recognition of the Tennessee Century Farm Program. Administered jointly by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the program celebrated the historical significance of the Glenn Acres Farm in College Grove, Tennessee, a testament to the state’s rich agricultural heritage.

The Tennessee FFA program, which operates within approximately 230 middle and high schools across the state, stands as a crucial pillar of agricultural education. Its administration is a collaborative endeavor between the Tennessee Departments of Agriculture and Education. The attendance of Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher and newly appointed Education Commissioner Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds emphasized the educational importance of the event.

The Tennessee State Fair FFA Ham Breakfast garnered wide support from influential figures, besides the State’s top leaders in attendance, other major state leaders included Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, along with over 40 state legislators. Notable representatives, such as State Senator Jack Johnson, the House Democrat Caucus led by State Representative John Ray Clemmons, and State Representatives Michael Hale, Pat Marsh, and William Lamberth, lent their sponsorship to the event.

Backing the event were a diverse array of supporters, spanning renowned agricultural entities like the Tennessee Farm Bureau, the Farmers Co-op, and Tractor Supply Company, as well as non-agricultural advocates like Meta, J&S Construction, Bristol Motor Speedway, and the Nashville Superspeedway. A testament to the event’s collaborative spirit, over 150 sponsors united to propel the Tennessee FFA Foundation’s mission forward, enabling the growth of agricultural youth leadership.

A highlight of tradition, the event concluded with the auction of the Grand Champion Hams – the Country Ham and the Packer Style Ham. Bobby Parker of Woodbury emerged victorious for the Country Ham, fetching a record $20,000 through joint bidding efforts by H&R Agri-Power and Catesa Farms. Anna Whitt from Spring Hill secured the Packer Style Ham title, with the ham being sold for $18,500 to sponsors including the Tennessee Farm Bureau, Beck’s Hybrid, and John Deere dealer TriGreen Equipment.

The event’s spirit and energy will continue to reverberate as the Tennessee State Fair carries on through this Saturday, August 26.

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