Barker wins Cattleman award

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Mark Barker received the Tennessee Cattlemen Stocker Grower Producer of the Year Award during the Tennessee Cattlemen's Annual Convention. Annually, a producer in Tennessee receives recognition for outstanding accomplishments in four categories, Cow-calf producer of the year, Outstanding Business Person and Outstanding Stocker Grower Producer.

Prior to the State Convention, Mark received county recognition from the Cannon County Cattlemen's Association. After which, Mr. Barker was nominated by the CCCA as their nominee for the State Award. Producers in the County are proactive and do an excellent job in managing their operations, remarked Bruce Steelman, County Director with the University of Tennessee Cannon County Extension. Producers such as Mark utilizes an assortment of tools to maximize production ranging from elite genetics, along with efficient utilization of forages and effective marketing techniques.

Mark and the Barker Family are most deserving of this award. Below you will find a brief history of their operation. We celebrate with the Barker family their accomplishments in Agriculture and involvement in the community.

Mark Barker currently operates his family's farm in Readyville, Tennessee in Cannon County. The original 575-acre farm was purchased by Mark's grandfather Oscar Barker and his two brothers Lawrence and Vance in 1914. Upon his marriage to Willie Bell Holmes in December of 1914, Oscar took sole possession of the farm and together they moved there in January of 1915. Oscar made a living as a livestock trader and farmer, with special emphasis on horses and mules. His most famous horse was Barker's Moonbeam, a Palomino stud who has the distinction of being the sire of Roy Roger's horse Trigger, Jr.

1923 marked the birth of their only child, Mark's father Ray Barker. Ray was born on the farm and subsequently spent his lifetime farming. Upon graduating from high school in 1942, Ray purchased his first tractor, a Farmall H. In 1952, Ray married Henrietta Tenpenny and together they were blessed with three sons, Mark, Boyd and John. Through the years, Ray expanded the farming operation to over 1000 acres and mainly raised Hereford cattle, sheep and hogs and grew various crops including corn, soybeans, hay, wheat and oats. During the 1950's, Ray upgraded his tractors to Farmall M diesels, a couple of which are still in service on the farm. In 1963, Ray built his first silo and purchased silage equipment in order to add value to his weaned calves. Backgrounding calves that have been weaned on the farm or purchased continues to date on the Barker farm.

Upon graduation from Middle Tennessee State University, a second set of Barker Brothers (Mark, Boyd and John) started faming in a general partnership with an emphasis on hog production and growing grain. During this time, Mark married Cindy Smith and together they were blessed with a son, Luke, and a daughter, Lydia. The Barker Farm continued to expand to approximately 1200, but with tight margins in the swine industry in the early to mid 1990s, John and Boyd left full-time farming for careers with Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture respectively. However Mark has continued to operate the Barker family farm raising crossbred commercial cattle and hogs and growing corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Swine production was phased out several years ago leaving cattle production as the lone livestock enterprise on the farm.

Mark has served on numerous boards including the Tennessee Beef Council, Cannon County Farm Bureau board of directors as President, Tennessee Farm Bureau Livestock Advisory Committee, Resolutions Committee and as District 4 Caucus chairman, represented Farm Bureau on the national level as a voting delegate to the American Farm Bureau Convention and on lobbying trips to Washington D.C. He serves locally as Cannon County Commissioner, serves on Cannon County Soil Conservation District Board and The University of Tennessee Extension Agriculture Committee.

Mark is currently in Colorado visiting his son Luke who is an ophthalmologist in Fort Worth, TX. Mark regrets that he is unable to be here personally to accept this honor and recognition, but already had travel plans and is enjoying this time with three of his grandsons. Mark's daughter Lydia lives in Murfreesboro and is employed by Dempsey Vantrease and Follis. She is married to Chris Hancock who is the District Conservationist at NRCS in Rutherford County and together they have a son and daughter, rounding our Mark's five grandchildren.

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