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Governor Lee Returns To Where He Started At Van Buren Ag Learning Center

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Governor Lee Returns To Where He Started At Van Buren Ag Learning Center

Governor Bill Lee made a stop in Van Buren County on Tuesday to tour the newly renovated Ag Learning Center.

Lee said growing up with agriculture, the facility represents exactly why he strives to enhance rural, distressed communities in Tennessee. Lee said the memories of kicking off his campaign came right back when he arrived in Van Buren County.

“This is where it all started for me on my political journey,” Lee said. “Pulling into here and meeting real people, in a real community and saying I want to serve Tennessee and you responded to me in profoundly generous ways.”

Lee toured the facility that houses the county’s agriculture extension agents and their soil conservation office. Lee said the Department of Agriculture’s investment into the facility will impact the next generation of rural Tennesseans, like extension offices impacted him growing up.

“What’s happening here, right now is important for all kinds of reasons,” Lee said. “Agriculture is the number one, leading economic driver in the state’s economy. It is the biggest part of our state’s economy. It’s the reason we should invest in it, it’s the reason we should invest in youth development in ag. If we don’t create the next generation of ag producers then Tennessee will not continue to be the strong agriculture state that it is.”

Van Buren County Ag Extension Office County Director Chris Binkley thanked Governor Lee for his efforts to grow agriculture in Tennessee. He said it was fitting to have an agriculture learning center in a county with an $8 million dollar agriculture industry.

“We didn’t have an ag learning center, now we have a place where you can actually hold meetings,” Binkely said. “Van Buren County now is number one in the number of farms that sell directly to retail outlets.”

4-H Governor Cade Simmons presented Governor Lee with two pieces of woodwork during his stop in the county. Governor Lee said they are treasures.

County Mayor Greg Wilson said the county was able to get a $150,000 Department of Agriculture grant to redo the building. Wilson said the basement used to look like a medieval dungeon, now it houses multiple offices and is the highlight of the office.


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