Middle Tennessee State University alumnus Dr. Charles “Charlie” Hatcher will join Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s cabinet as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture early next year.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming,” Hatcher, a College Grove, Tennessee, resident and state veterinarian since 2009, said Tuesday, Dec. 4.
“I’m so humbled and honored to be chosen by the governor-elect. He’s a farmer and I’m a farmer, too, and I plan on executing his (the governor-elect’s) vision for agriculture for the state of Tennessee. … I’m up to the task.”
Lee made the announcement during the annual Tennessee Farm Bureau Convention in Franklin, Tennessee, Dec. 3.
Hatcher is a 10th-generation farmer, a fifth-generation Tennessee farmer, and general managing partner of Williamson County-based Hatcher Family Dairy, established in 1831.
“Charlie brings tremendous perspective about our state’s rural resources and agricultural way of life,” Lee said. “What happens in rural Tennessee matters to all Tennesseans, and Charlie has the experience to carry out the administration’s key priorities in agriculture and rural economic development.”
Lee takes office Jan. 19, when he’ll be inaugurated at the state Capitol in Nashville.
Hatcher earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1980 from MTSU, which he calls “a wonderful university. The education and background served me well. … It was close (to home) and affordable. I loved my educational experience there.”
More than 25 years later, Hatcher and the family dairy formed a “great partnership” with his alma mater, working with Tim Redd, the university’s farm lab director, and then-School of Agriculture Director Warren Gill on a pilot marketing program that led to a unique processing and bottling agreement with MTSU in 2007.
“We partnered with Hatcher Family Dairy on their initial milk bottling project, and they have hosted several classes at their farm for tours, including agritourism, dairy production, milk processing and marketing courses,” said Dr. Jessica Carter, current School of Agriculture director.
“I am optimistic that we will continue to have strong support from the Department of Agriculture with Dr. Hatcher serving in this position,” Carter added.
She noted that the university already has a strong relationship in place with Jai Templeton, the current agriculture commissioner.
Hatcher also is general managing partner for Rock-N-Roll Farms and Battle Mountain Farm in Williamson County and owns and operates Rock-N-Country Veterinary Services. He earned his veterinary medicine degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Hatcher and his wife, Sharon, have two children who also have gone into agriculture: Jennifer Hatcher and Charles Hatcher. Jennifer is a veterinarian, and Charles graduated from MTSU in 2009 with an agribusiness degree; he now leads the local chapter of the National FFA Organization at Page High School and is an assistant football coach.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)