The AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville is transitioning its focus away from tobacco to commodities of more interest to producers in the region, like forage. The name of the center is changing, too. It’s now the Northeast Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.

Previously known as the “Tobacco Experiment Station,” the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville is once again changing its name. The UT Institute of Agriculture has decided the name “Northeast Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center” better reflects the broad community that the location serves, according to a news release.

One of 10 UT AgResearch and Education Centers across the state, the Northeast Tennessee Center is the only one serving the agricultural and natural resources interests in this region of the state. The next nearest in location is the East Tennessee Center in Knoxville. Other locations include the Plateau Center in Crossville, the Middle Tennessee Center in Spring Hill and the West Tennessee Center in Jackson.

“A name change is one logical way to position the center for future expansion,” said Justin L. McKinney, director of the center. “In keeping with the interests of regional farmers and businesses, the AgResearch facility here in Greeneville has been moving away from a tobacco focus for quite some time. This new name will have a positive effect on how the center is perceived by scientists, students, and our clientele throughout the region and in the world of agriculture.”

UT AgResearch Dean Hongwei Xin, leader of the program statewide, agreed.

“As the scope of our research and education activities at the Greeneville location expands to meet the evolving needs of our agricultural stakeholders and general public in the region, it is only fitting to adopt a name that more properly reflects the diverse nature of our programs,” Xin said.

McKinney, who is completing his first year as center director, has a deep desire to enhance the reputation of the Northeast Tennessee Center.

“The facility is already known the world over for its contributions to tobacco research and production, but now that the region is focusing on other crops and commodities, we need to ensure our reputation extends to the new agricultural and natural resource interests in the community.” he said. “For example, the region has a reputation for quality beef cattle and forage production, but more work is needed.”

McKinney is working to develop stronger relationships throughout local communities by forming a collaborative advisory council for the center that will help ensure that that UTIA and UT AgResearch is addressing current and future critical interests in agriculture and barriers that producers and industry may be facing.

“I have utilized the Greeneville Research and Education Center for most of my life to become a more educated and better prepared tobacco farmer,” said Jeff Aiken, president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. “The name change to the Northeast Tennessee Research and Education Center expresses the intent for a broader geographical and commodity focus which will provide the opportunity for many others to benefit just as I have for many years.”

The name change is effective immediately. More details about the center’s efforts can be found online at For more details about the mission and efforts of the statewide AgResearch program visit

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