Former McNairy County mayor named state agriculture commissioner

March 31– Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Jai Templeton, a sixth generation Tennessee farmer, as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture effective May 1.

Templeton will replace Julius Johnson who last week announced his retirement. 

Templeton, 44, currently serves as the department’s deputy commissioner, leading the day-to-day operations and directing programs and services that range from food safety to animal and plant health to agricultural development.

“Jai has played a critical role in developing the department’s 10 year strategic plan to grow Tennessee’s agricultural and forest industries. As a lifelong farmer, he will be a champion for the farming industry and continue the department’s work to strengthen our rural communities,” Haslam said.  

Prior to joining the department in 2011, Templeton served as mayor of McNairy County. He and his family have farmed in McNairy and Hardin counties for decades, producing grain, cotton, hay, timber, and cattle.

“I am honored to be asked by Gov. Haslam to serve as a member of his cabinet. Agriculture is my life. The past five years in the role of deputy to Commissioner Johnson have been a wonderful experience for me and I am grateful for the continuing opportunity to serve the agriculture industry,” Templeton said. “As a former mayor of a rural county, it is refreshing to work for a department and administration focused on the development of rural Tennessee.  I look forward to continuing the great work of this administration to strengthen our farm and forest communities all across our state.”

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