Meet Third-Generation Farmer Jane May
The Dirt on the Farm
Farm Location: Newbern in Dyer County
Livestock and Crops: Row crops, goats, hogs and feeder calves
Farm Legacy: The Mays, who represent the third generation to live on the family farm, are now semiretired and have downsized from what they were at peak time.
What has farm life offered you personally?
It is so fulfilling to live where generations of farmers have come before you. William’s mother grew up and lived in a log cabin on the farm that was later renovated into a two-story house, where she lived until she had to go into a nursing home. This was where William was raised and lived until we married. In 1970, we built our house and moved back to the farm. But even before we moved back, we always spent our vacations coming home to help plant the crops each spring and harvest in the fall. Moving back to the farm has been very rewarding to me because we were able to raise our three children on the farm and instill in them the values and importance of farm life. They learned early on in life about taking care of the land and farm animals. We believe that living on the farm taught them to always do their best and promote what they believe in, as well as to set attainable goals for the family and the operation.
Why do you think it is important to advocate for agriculture?
Education is the key. It is extremely important that we teach both children and adults where our food, clothing and other items come from. We need to make ourselves available to share information with nonfarmers. As state chair of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Women, I take advocacy very seriously and help spread the message of how important agriculture is to all of us across the state. The Farm Bureau Women’s groups do this through Farm Days, where they bring school-aged children to the farm and explain how a farm works and where food comes from. They also celebrate Food Check Out Week each February, by going to grocery stores and sharing with shoppers the message of agriculture and then donating food/money to local charities, including Ronald McDonald Houses across the state. We also have agriculture books that schoolteachers can either check out or have us come read to their classrooms that have correct agricultural information in them and much more! I would like to be sure the nonagriculture public knows that we as farmers produce abundant, safe and affordable food for their use and ours.
Why did you become involved with the Tennessee Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Women?
The Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Women are an important voice for all of agriculture. We make contacts on farmers’ behalf to county, state and national officials. We are volunteers that work with other agricultural groups to educate nonfarmers through Agriculture in the Classroom, Ag Day activities and civic groups. I was elected to the Dyer County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee in December 1985, was elected vice chair in 1987 and chair in 1988. On the state level, I became District I chair in 1996; then in 2002 I was elected to state vice chair and in 2006 became state chair. It has been such a blessing to be a part of these organizations for the many years I have been involved, and I know the impact it has made on me has helped me become a leader in my community. I would encourage anyone to get involved and stay active in the Farm Bureau. After all, they are our voices when we are out in the fields doing our jobs!