Submitted Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher recently visited Macon County. Pictured are: (from left) Sen. Mark Pody, Macon County Mayor Steve Jones, Hatcher; Lafayette city council member Pam Cothron, Lafayette Vice Mayor Roger Russell, Macon County Commissioner Tony Wix, State Rep. Kelly Keisling and Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver.

Submitted

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher recently visited Macon County. Pictured are: (from left) Sen. Mark Pody, Macon County Mayor Steve Jones, Hatcher; Lafayette city council member Pam Cothron, Lafayette Vice Mayor Roger Russell, Macon County Commissioner Tony Wix, State Rep. Kelly Keisling and Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver.

Charlie Hatcher, the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, visited Macon County on July 25.

Hatcher talked about the growth of the hemp industry.

"It is growing so fast that the legislators cannot keep pace with regulations," Hatcher said.

The hemp industry has the potential to offset some of the loss from the loss of tobacco contracts. However, there are infrastructure issues that need to be addressed.

The application process for hemp growers is now open year-round.

The need for slaughterhouses in Tennessee was also discussed. Currently, cattle are shipped hundreds of miles for processing. The state is investigating the viability of such a project.

A contrary consideration is how it will affect other economic sectors, such as transportation. There are several trucking companies that haul the cattle to the current slaughterhouses. A local slaughterhouse would reduce the mileage and most likely the trucking companies' pay.

Lastly, the group examined the issues related to employees. The main concerns presented were employee recruitment and retention.

"I have no quick-fix solutions," Hatcher said.

Hatcher believes that educating children about where their food comes from and how it is grown is important.