Meet Farmer Jim Bledsoe
The Dirt on the Farm
Farm family: Bledsoe has a 16-year-old son who also plans to farm
Crops & Livestock: Nine broiler houses where they raise 280,000 chickens six times a year, beef cattle and 120 acres of hay
Farm location: Jamestown on the Cumberland Plateau
Farm Bureau Membership: 17 years. Bledsoe was a member of Young Farmers & Ranchers from 2005 to 2008 and has been Fentress County Farm Bureau president since 2007.
Did you always want to be a farmer?
It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I was involved in 4-H, FFA and Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers. My grandfather worked on a farm when I was growing up, and I always enjoyed watching him. I got a forestry degree but always wanted to farm. Then I got my feet wet and went all in – I’m farming full time now.
What lessons have you learned on the farm you can’t learn anywhere else?
If something tears up, you have to find a way to fix it. Something is always going to tear up and most of the time you don’t have the right stuff to fix it, but you still have to find a way. You can’t give up on it. The other lesson is the best way to be involved in anything is to participate. Get out there and participate, and be willing to serve your community.
What are your biggest challenges?
Things that are beyond my control. Fluctuating cattle prices, and in the poultry business, you get what is sent to you as a contract grower. But that is probably the biggest challenge in life: You can’t control everything.
How do you stay updated on technology on the farm?
I stay up to date by being involved. I am on several different boards and involved in several different organizations. By being involved, I am educated on all the different technologies coming out. It also doesn’t hurt that I have kids aged 13 and 16, so if I can’t figure something out, they can. All of my poultry houses are on a Rotem computer control system. It controls everything in the houses and connects to my alarm system. I am never more than a phone call away from seeing what is wrong out there.
You have a unique position as the agriculture representative on the Fish and Wildlife Commission. How has that helped facilitate the relationship between wildlife and agriculture?
I’ve been on the commission for five years of a six-year term and just finished a year as chairman. My goal when I was appointed as the agriculture representative was to bring agriculture and wildlife to the same table. We aren’t always going to agree on everything, but if we are sitting at the same table and have communication, we can work things out to where we can both benefit. If you aren’t sitting at the table, you are more than likely sitting on it, and both of these groups are worthwhile to our state.
Are you Farm Bureau proud?
Farm Bureau does so much more than what most people think. They are rural America and agriculture’s voice. Why not be proud of them? They embody everything we want to be ourselves.