Jai Templeton was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam and sworn in as Tennessee's 37th Commissioner of Agriculture in May 2016. Prior to joining the department as Deputy Commissioner in June 2011, he served as mayor of McNairy County, leading that county's successful efforts to reduce debt and increase fund balances without raising taxes during the economic recession. He is a sixth generation farmer producing grain, cotton, hay, timber and cattle in McNairy and Hardin Counties.
As county mayor, Templeton also served on the UT Martin-McNairy County Center Advisory Board, the West Tennessee Railroad Authority, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority, the Southwest Tennessee Development District Executive Board and the Southwest Tennessee Human Resources Agency Board.
He is a former county commissioner and former president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce, where he helped form the McNairy Regional Alliance to focus on economic development in the area.
From 1995 to 2003, he served as a field representative for former U.S. Representative Ed Bryant, covering the rural portion of Tennessee's Seventh Congressional District. He also served as a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention.
He has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and he is a graduate of the Nashville Auction School and UTM WestStar, Leadership McNairy County and AgStar professional development programs. He is also a graduate of the UT Certified Public Administrator program and Tennessee Government Executive Institute.
He is a member of the Agricenter International Board of Directors, the McNairy-Chester County Cattlemen's Association, the McNairy County Forestry Landowner's Association, the Tennessee Farm Bureau, the Stantonville Community Club, Masonic Lodge #338, O.E.S. Chapter #330, the National Cattleman's Beef Association, Memphis Ag Club, Mid-South and First Farmer’s Cooperative and a former board member of the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association.
Jai is a member of the First Baptist Church of Adamsville where he has taught Sunday School and served on the Finance Committee. He is a member of Gideon’s International and a former member of the Shiloh Baptist Association Executive Committee.
He and his wife, Allison, reside on the family farm in Stantonville, TN. They have three children Canon and Eliza Smith, Mycaela Rhodes and husband, Alex.