ABOVE: State Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Hatcher (MTSU Class of 1980), right, will be the commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture starting in 2019. Gov.-elect Bill Lee made the announcement Dec. 3 in Franklin. MTSU alumnus Charles Hatcher (Class of 2009), left, holds Hatcher Family Dairy’s prized chocolate milk while his father holds a second edition of his book “Farm Strong: Faith, Family, Farm & Fitness.” (Photo from Hatcher Family Dairy website)
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY
Dr. Charles “Charlie” Hatcher, a College Grove resident and state veterinarian since 2009, will join Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s cabinet as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming,” Hatcher, said Tuesday, regarding Lee’s announcement. “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 (Lee’s) vision for agriculture for the state of Tennessee. … I’m up to the task.”
Lee announced the news during the annual Tennessee Farm Bureau Convention in Franklin, Tennessee, on Dec. 3.
Hatcher is a 10th generation farmer and general managing partner of Williamson County-based Hatcher Family Dairy, on their farm which was 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.”
Hatcher earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Middle Tennessee State University in the class of 1980. “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 farm lab director, and then-School of Agriculture Director Warren Gill on a pilot marketing program that led to the establishing of Hatcher Family Dairy 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 Jessica Carter, current director of the MTSU School of Agriculture.
“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.
Carter said a strong agriculture-based relationship already was in place with Jai Templeton, the current commissioner under Gov. Bill Haslam.
Charlie Hatcher is general managing partner for Rock-N-Roll Farms and Battle Mountain Farm, also in Williamson County.
Hatcher, who received his doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and his wife of 40 years, Sharon, have seen their two children, daughterJennifer Hatcher and son Charles Hatcher, experience agricultural careers. Jennifer also became a veterinarian. Charles graduated from MTSU in 2009 with an agribusiness degree and he leads the FFA program and is an assistant football coach at Page High School.