With a strong background in and commitment to the agriculture industry, Andy Holt has been appointed Assistant Commissioner for the Business Development Division at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and special advisor to the Commissioner. Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. made the announcement today. “Since joining the department more than a year ago, Andy has proven himself as an advocate for Tennessee agriculture and forestry and an integral member of our staff,” Commissioner Hatcher said. “No matter the initiative, Andy shows up with thoughtful perspective, fresh ideas, and enthusiasm to get the job done. Governor Lee and I are dedicated to supporting and enhancing Tennessee’s economy—particularly in the state’s rural areas. Andy’s experience and leadership will strengthen those efforts.”
Holt comes to this job after serving as Director of the Business Development Division. The division administers several of the department’s best-known programs, including the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, the Agricultural Enterprise Fund, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Livestock Market News and Statistics, and Pick Tennessee Products. As Assistant Commissioner, he will lead division staff in maximizing efforts to increase profitability and viability of farm and forest businesses.
“As a result of my experience with 4-H, I chose to pursue a career in agriculture at an early age,” Holt said. “My hope is that by strengthening our agriculture and forestry economy, we can create attractive opportunities and encourage investments in Tennessee. If we balance our pursuit of new agriculture and forestry investments while also supporting our legacy farmers and foresters, I am certain that we will continue the monumental success that we have seen in recent years.”
Holt will work closely with Commissioner Hatcher as an advisor concentrating on agribusiness growth and to support opportunities for agricultural innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship statewide. “As a department, we are dedicated to serving all Tennesseans,” Commissioner Hatcher continued. “With Deputy Commissioner Jeff Aiken based in East Tennessee and my office in Middle Tennessee, Andy’s contributions from West Tennessee will help ensure a close connection to farmers and foresters in each of the three grand divisions.”
For the last 11 years, Holt has taught business, government, and economics as an adjunct instructor at Bethel University in McKenzie. Before joining the department, he served for five terms in the Tennessee General Assembly as the State Representative for House District 76 which includes Weakly County and portions of Carroll and Obion Counties. His prior career experience also includes the Weakley County Farmers Co-Op and Farm Credit Services.
Holt earned a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and Business from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, followed by an M.B.A. with focus on economics and finance from the University of Tennessee at Martin.
He and his wife, Ellie, are the parents to seven young children and operate Holt Family Farms, an agritourism and diversified livestock operation near Dresden.