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SC Commissioner Weathers: Remembering Tom Trantham

Thomas Trantham Jr. passed away in early September at age 81.

“Farmer Tom” owned Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, SC.

Tom was an early adopter of rotational grazing, which promotes pasture health and cow health.

He worked with Clemson University researchers to study how grazing had increased milk production on his farm and to find techniques to make it sustainable. He then worked to teach other farmers how to use a year-round rotational grazing system.

One time he told me he tried to make “12 months of spring” for his dairy cows.

Tom was a key early supporter of the Certified South Carolina program. Happy Cow Creamery products proudly bear the Certified SC label.

In 1986, a severe drought and heat wave hit South Carolina and other Southern states caused more than $1 billion in crop and livestock losses. To help, Tom helped organize a “hay lift,” appealing to other US farmers to donate hay to Southern farmers. Operation Haylift delivered many tons of hay by air to hard-hit states.

He later expressed his gratitude by hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on his farm for some 500 farmers from across the nation.

Tom was named 2015 South Carolina Farmer of the Year by the Swisher/Sunbelt Ag Expo.

In 2021 Tom was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Gov. Henry McMaster. Given to individuals who had an extraordinary impact on South Carolina.