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Jerry Rice

Tennessee counties map
Farmer: Jerry Rice, Sparta, TN  (White County)

Type farming operation: Beef cow-calf operation.

Nature of disability: Jerry had tumors in his neck in the early 1980s and has undergone 27 operations on his neck and throat.  He also had a stroke during this time and, as a result has limited use of his left arm and weakness on the left side.

Challenges to meet: Jerry Rice lives on a small section of the farm where he was raised in White County, and he is doing whatever it takes to remain independent and productive, so he stays busy with his small beef herd and a variety of other farm chores.  Jerry's biggest needs were assistance in building a shed to store his equipment and protect it from the weather and he also needed information on pasture renovation and raising beef cattle.

Solutions: In 1996, Tennessee AgrAbility and the UT White County Extension Service helped Jerry by coordinating several projects with other agencies and organizations, including the three below: 
  • One of Jerry's goals was to build a shed to store his tractor and other equipment.  He already had some of the materials, such as the poles to support the shed, but needed assistance securing the rest of the materials plus assistance with the construction.  AgrAbility staff helped Jerry obtain the needed materials, and construction assistance was provided by the White County Future Farmers of America.  Thanks to these fine folks, Jerry now has a suitable shelter to protect his equipment from the deteriorating effects of exposure to the weather.
  • A small pond to provide a water source for his livestock was also in Jerry's plans.  The White County office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationist provided planning assistance, and financial assistance was provided through a special grant project of the NRCS.  This project provided qualified farmers with 75/25 cost sharing for construction of certain conservation structures, and a neighbor assisted with the dozer work.
  • Agricultural expertise was provided by the White County Extension Service. Extension Agent Billy Adcock provided information on establishing a quality pasture, fertilization for good forage quality and storage techniques to preserve the quality of large round bales of hay.  Due to the limited lifting capabilities of Jerry's tractor, he cannot stack the bales, but he does store them off the ground (on pallets) to minimize spoilage.
Cost of modifications: NA

Benefits: The pond serves as a source of water for the livestock and also helps control runoff from the surrounding area.  In addition, the pasture renovation and hay storage information has helped Jerry provide a higher quality forage for his livestock.

Feedback: Jerry is thrilled with the things that have been happening on his farm.  "I have always wanted to be a farmer," Jerry says, "and thanks to AgrAbility and the help of the community, I am going to get my chance." 

Jerry believes you have to put back into the system what you get out of it.  Jerry has been working with other people with disabilities in the area.  He helps them try to locate the things they need to complete their projects.  For example, one man he knows uses baling twine in repairing seats of chairs.  Jerry finds the discarded baling twine from neighbors and passes it on to his friend.  Jerry is also working with another older man to help him build a little front porch he can sit on at his house.


  • UT Extension - White County
  • Easter Seals of Tennessee - AgrAbility Project
  • UT Extension - Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science Department
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service - White County
  • Scales Building Supply, Sparta
  • White County High School - Vocational Agriculture instructor and students