Knoxville, TN -
George Clay of Pelham, Tennessee, has been named Tennessee Farmer of the Year by University of Tennessee Extension.
The third-generation farmer, his wife Edwene, and their sons Eddie, Keith and Eric currently oversee about 2,100 acres and 110 beef cows — a far cry from the 150 acres Clay first leased in 1958. Clay was able to expand this acreage over time by purchasing and renting more land.
Today the Clay's raises corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and feeder cattle. The “boys” and grandson J.R., represent the fourth and fifth generations of Clays to work on the farm. As the elder Clay likes to proudly point out, theirs is a family farm.
Farmers from all across Tennessee were nominated for the honor by their county extension agents or by area farm management specialists. Clay was introduced as the Tennessee Farmer of the Year on March 19 at the Tennessee Executive Residence as part of an omelet cook-off sponsored by the Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee.
Clay says he and his wife Edwene have been true partners on the farm and in life. The two have been married more than 60 years — longer than they have been on the farm. Edwene keeps the books, while Clay and their sons Eddie and Eric mostly work the land. Keith, their middle son, is a Regional Supervisor for the Farm Service Agency, but he still enjoys returning to the farm to help out his parents and brothers.
Like most farmers, Clay is a good steward of his land and resources. He practices no-till and minimum tillage production practices to preserve his soil and reduce his use of chemical treatments like pesticides. His farm was recognized as the 2013 Grundy County Soil Conservation Farm of the Year.