647 Bright Hill Road, Smithville, Tennessee 37166

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USDA Service Centers Taking Precautionary Measures to Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

News Release


                     USDA Service Centers Taking Precautionary Measures to Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

USDA Service Center

For more information contact:
Katherine K. Burse, State Public Affairs Officer
PH: 615-277-2533

NASHVILLE, March 23, 2020 – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Centers are encouraging visitors to take proactive protective measures to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

USDA Service Centers throughout Tennessee will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing.

“While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our producers by phone, email and using online tools whenever possible,” said Sheldon Hightower, Tennessee State Conservationist. “All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment.”

In the event a Service Center is closed, producers can receive assistance from the closest alternate Service Center by phone.  The following Service Centers in Tennessee are closed: Dickson and Lawrenceburg. These employees are working from an alternate location and can continue to provide services remotely.  Please contact an alternate Service Center for immediate assistance.  Producers can find Service Center phone numbers at farmers.gov/service-center-locator offsite link image    .  

Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) agencies continue to look at the flexibilities to deliver programs on behalf of producers, just as they have in past situations, such as natural disasters. Farmers are resilient and FPAC agencies will continue to deliver the farm safety net programs and resource conservation programs that keep American agriculture in business today and long into the future.   

Online services are available to customers with an eAuthorization account, which provides access to the farmers.gov offsite link image     portal where producers can view USDA farm loan information and payments and view and track certain USDA program applications and payments. Online NRCS services are available to customers through the Conservation Client Gateway. Customers can track payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign documents. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at farmers.gov/sign-in offsite link image    

For the most current updates on available services and Service Center status visit farmers.gov/coronavirus offsite link image    

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Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


Burn Permits

Safety emphasized as warm weather brings increased activity:

Wildfire SeasonNashville, Tenn.– Visible signs of spring emerge as warm temperatures and sunny skies push back the doldrums from cold winters. As Tennesseans begin to take advantage of this weather to do some yard work around the home or farm, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry wants to remind folks that if they are considering conducting an open burn, a burn permit is required in advance of such activity.

“Burning vegetative material that has accumulated around the yard or using fire to clear an old field can be an efficient tool to get rid of such debris,” said State Forester Steven Scott. “However, it is very important that citizens practice safe outdoor burning

recommendations. Obtaining a burn permit in advance of debris burning is our way of making the public aware of those recommendations and helping them know when, where and how it is safe to burn.”

The free burn permits are required in all areas of the state by law from October 15 until May 15 unless otherwise covered by local ordinances, so residents should check with their local government for other restrictions. The permits can be obtained by calling toll free 1-877-350-BURN (2876) or by visiting www.BurnSafeTN.org. Permits are generally good for 24 hours and can be issued for weekend burns.


More than 415,000 permits were issued last year for activities that included unconfined, outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste and burning to clear land.

Once a burn permit is obtained, debris burners should practice common sense while conducting a burn. This includes:

  • Establish a control line around the fire, down to bare soil before conducting the burn.
  • Notify neighbors and local fire departments in advance as a courtesy.
  • Have tools on hand such as a leaf rake and garden hose or bucket of water to help control the fire.
  • Watch for changing weather conditions as winds can blow the fire in the wrong direction.

Always stay with your fire until it is completely out. It is not only the smart thing to do, but it is also illegal to leave an open fire unattended.

Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires in Tennessee. The Division’s burn permit system has dramatically helped reduce the numbers of escaped burns since the program began in 1995. Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

For more information on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, visit www.TN.gov/agriculture/forestry. For more information on safe debris burning, visit www.BurnSafeTN.org.


The Dekalb County Soil Conservation has a no-till drill for rent. 

The drill rents at $100 a day with 15 acres free with a down payment of $100.  After the 15 acres is drilled the cost of acres is $7.50 per acre.

If you are interested in renting the drill, call the soil conservation office at 615-597-8226 x 3 or come by the office at 647 Bright Hill Road.  Office hours are 8:00 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. Out of office for lunch 11:00 - 12:00. 





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Board and Staff

SCD Staff

SCD staff members are available to assist landowners with programs available through partner organizations. Anita Houk (Secretary),Gene Robinson (District Conservationist)


SCD Board

Soil Conservation Districts are local units of government responsible for the soil and water conservation work within their boundaries. The districts' role is to increase voluntary conservation practices among farmers, ranchers and other land users. The SCD is governed by an elected board. Those on the local board are:  Jimmy Herndon (Chairman), Genrose Davis (Vice-Chairman, Burnace Vandergriff (Treasurer), Jimmy Womack (Supervisor), and Mike Conley (Supervisor).

NRCS Staff

NRCS is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. NRCS staff is available in all 95 Tennessee counties to provide assistance to landowners through cost share programs that promote conservation of our natural resources. Gene Robinson (District Conservationist)

FSA Staff

FSA in Tennessee administers farms loans, farm programs, conservation and stewardship incentives, disaster assistance and food aid across the country and around the world. 

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