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Ball Named TDA Director of Marketing

Friday, May 03, 2013 | 06:55am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson today announced the appointment of Debbie Stepp Ball as director of marketing in the Market Development Division.

“Debbie is uniquely suited for this position at this point in the division’s history,” said Johnson. “I can’t imagine a more qualified person in terms of education, experience and skills to help lead the division into its next phase of service for Tennessee agriculture. In addition to her private sector marketing experience, she has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing farming today and in the future. ”

Ball has been with TDA since 2008 serving as statewide outreach coordinator for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. Her marketing and advertising background quickly led her to assume responsibility for the entire division’s producer and consumer web services. She replaces former director of marketing, Dan Strasser, who left after eight years with the department to take a position with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

As director of marketing, Ball will organize and direct the marketing and promotional services of the division to increase farm income and strengthen rural economies. This includes directing the popular Pick Tennessee Products program, which helps consumers connect with sources of locally grown and processed food products. Ball will report to recently appointed assistant commissioner for Market Development Ed Harlan.

“I understand the honor, opportunity and responsibility of the position,” said Ball. “I’m grateful to get the chance to serve this industry that’s such a big part of my life. It seems like everything I’ve ever done has come together to prepare me for this experience. I’m also fortunate to come into the position with a day to day, working knowledge of the division’s programs and people.”

Before coming to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Ball held positions at national and regional marketing and advertising companies including the United Methodist Publishing House, MGroup and Art Growden Creative. Within these agencies Ball served in a wide range of positions, including project management, procurement, inventory control and budget management. In addition to her career in private sector marketing and advertising, Ball spent several years serving as the communications coordinator for the Tennessee Pork Producers Association.

She was raised on the family farm in Coffee County where her family ran a purebred hog operation, L.F. Stepp and Sons Registered Hampshire and Yorkshires till 1999. The hogs have now been replaced with cattle. The Stepp family farm will be eligible for Century Farm status in 2017.

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