Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday 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, according to a press release.
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.