Area Specialist Recognized for Outstanding Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Programs

Picture of David Bilderback
Davi​d Bilderback, University of Tennessee Extension area specialist in the eastern region of the state, has received the Harley and Juanita Clark Irwin Award from the UT Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Photo courtesy UTIA. 


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — David Bilderback, University of Tennessee Extension area specialist in the eastern region of the state, has received the Harley and Juanita Clark Irwin Award from the UT Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics for his outstanding service in the field of agricultural economics and agribusiness education.

In 2019 and 2020, he made 10,746 contacts, completed 31 whole farm plans and worked one-on-one with 92 farm families. His programming efforts in Dairy Gauge Benchmarking included intensive financial work with dairies in Tennessee. The dairies produced 189 million pounds of milk, representing 27% of Tennessee production. Multiple producers from these dairies stated the benchmarking program was one of the best educational programs they have completed. As a result of their participation in the program, eight dairies focused on their cost structure and cost-saving strategies, resulting in the eight dairies reducing expenses by 8% in 2019, with a total direct economic impact of $2.32 million. In 2021, this program will be expanded to include dairies from Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina, as part of a $6.1 million USDA Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives grant being managed by the UT Institute of Agriculture.

Bilderback also led the development of the Master Farm Manager Program, a new statewide program focusing on farm financial management. In spring of 2020, a trial course was held in Madisonville, Tennessee, where participating farmers identified areas to reduce variable expenses for a total impact of $108,500. The program has been used by teaching, research and Extension faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics to disseminate information to producers.

In addition to these innovative programming efforts, he has also been chosen to co-chair the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Dairy Workgroup and was named Friend of the Herbert College of Agriculture for his willingness to work with students and guest lecture in the classroom.

“David Bilderback has been a leader in agricultural economics throughout his career, making a difference in the lives of many farm families. His ability has been proven by performance, and his contributions in 2019-20 were truly outstanding,” said Chris Clark, head of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “We are grateful to the Irwin family for making the generous donation that enables us to recognize exceptional service.”

New Master Farm Manager webinar classes are underway. Visit the Master Farm Manager website for additional information.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.