Arkansas Grown 2022 Digital Magazine

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A Guide to the State's Farms, Food, & Forestry

Arkansas Agriculture Goes Around the World Farming on a Different Scale 2022 | SPONSORED BY THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Building Strong Relationships Through Food We build strong relationships through food. Making nutritious, high-quality food helps bring families together around the dinner table. Nourishing and delighting the pets we love with complete and balanced pet food. It’s our purpose at Simmons. It’s why we do what we do. We believe good relationships are good business. Today. And every day.

Here to Serve... Every Generation Everyone in Agriculture Every Arkansan


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Farming With the Future In Mind The Wood Next Door Dairy Making a Difference Century Farm Charm Veterans Branching Out Investing in the Future Veterinary Technology Comes Home to Roost Greener Pastures Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Attack From Above Local Food is More Important Than Ever Learning Life Skills on the Farm Saving Vital Resources Sporting the Jacket Green and Blue SASDA: An Authentic Success

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Arkansas Vine to Wine

The Wine Industry in the Natural State Celebrates Superior Quality

Arkansas Agriculture Goes Around the World SUSTA Helps Arkansas Companies Expand Into New and Foreign Markets

Soy Checkoff Checks in on Arkansas Arkansas Hosts National Soybean Leaders

The Magic of a School Garden

Students Love Learning in the Garden

Farming on a Different Scale

Voluntary Programs Help Improve the Quality of Aquaculture Industry in Arkansas

Arkansas Grown Meats

Meat Processing Grant Program Steers Needed Funds Into Arkansas

Ralston Rice in Demand

Arkansas Family Farm Expands into Chinese Markets

Agribusiness Options for Arkansas Youth Strides in Efficiency Proactive and Prepared Busy People Get the Job Done Telling Their Story


Rosy Red Fathead Minnows from Poole Fisheries of Hickory Plains, Arkansas. Photo by Dr. Russell Summers. ARKANSAS GROWN 1

We know how to cultivate solid growth. Simmons Bank is proud to be a homegrown product of Arkansas. So we know the important role agriculture plays in our local and national economies. Our history can be traced back to the deep farmland roots of the Mississippi Delta — a strength of our business that continues today. So if you’re looking to expand your farming operation, buy new equipment or purchase livestock, stop by today and talk to an agricultural lending specialist.

Subject to credit approval.

A guide to the state's farms, food, & forestry

Arkansas Grown is published and distributed annually by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. For questions or advertising information, please call Amy Lyman at (501) 410-4616 or email WRITERS: Andrew Vogler, Cynthia Edwards, Karen Reynolds, Russell Summers, Department; Becky Barnes Campbell, Kelly Robbins, Arkansas Rice Federation; Lon Tegels, University of Arkansas Monticello; Danielle Viguerie Coco, Southern United States Trade Association; Charlene Chambers, Kristie Coley, Arkansas State University-Beebe; Chris Henry, Brittney Schrick, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture; Michelle Bufkin, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association; Edward Swaim, Bayou Meto Water Management District; Dennis Carman, White River Irrigation District; Carson Horn, The Communications Group; Sarah Lane; Shaylee Barber PHOTOGRAPHERS: Andrew Vogler, Forestry Division, Karen Reynolds, Russell Summers, Department; University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture; Arkansas Rice Federation; Lon Tegels, University of Arkansas Monticello; Southern United States Trade Association; Arkansas State University-Beebe; Arkansas Grazing Land Coalition; Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board; Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Jamie Anderson; Bayou Meto Water Management District; White River Irrigation District; Randall Lee; Ken Moore, Arkansas Farm Bureau; Abby Sanders; Shaylee Barber; Keith Sutton; Kaylie Stone Photography; Mark Potter, Arkansas Municipal League GRAPHIC ARTIST Joby Miller EDITOR & ADVERTISING COORDINATOR: Amy Lyman ARKANSAS SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: Wes Ward ARKANSAS DEPUTY SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE / SHARED SERVICES DIVISION DIRECTOR: Cynthia Edwards FORESTRY DIVISION DIRECTOR: Joe Fox LIVESTOCK & POULTRY DIVISION DIRECTOR: Patrick Fisk NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION DIRECTOR: Chris Colclasure PLANT INDUSTRIES DIVISION DIRECTOR: Scott Bray © Copyright 2022 Arkansas Department of Agriculture 1 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205, (501) 225-1598. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. No state appropriated funds were used in the publishing of this magazine.


Agriculture is our largest industry, contribu�ng more than $19.4 BILLION annually to the AR economy

AGRICULTURE in Arkansas An overview of Arkansas’s leading agricultural products

$19.4 BILLION annually



















268,950 JOBS



#1 in Rice produc�on, valued at $1.3 Billion annually

38,000 ACRES OF PEANUTS harvested, producing



of the corn grown in Arkansas is used in-state as poultry feed




TOP 25

Arkansas ranks in the TOP 25 na�onally in the produc�on of 16 different agricultural commodi�es





Arkansas boasts 42% of land comprised of farms, 55% comprised of forested land

E IC Arkansas rice accounts for 48% of total U.S. Rice Produc�on and 58% of U.S. Long Grain Produc�on

Arkansas is na�onally ranked


pounds of peanuts valued over





Source: 2021 University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Agriculture Profile 2021, USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service 2021


A Message from the Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson I grew up on a small farm in Gravette and many of my friends are farmers. I know a lot about agriculture in the Natural State. But every time I read a new issue of Arkansas Grown, I learn how much I still have to learn about Arkansas’s largest industry. I wasn’t aware, for instance, that federal aquaculture regulations refer to the many species that we raise in the water – everything from catfish to minnows – as “aquatic farm animals.” Water, of course, is essential for all farming, and the University of Arkansas has created a competition for farmers to showcase their irrigation expertise. The program is called Most Crop Per Drop. Nine farmers who produce the biggest yield with the least amount of rain and irrigated water win. Arkansas Grown has reported about the problem of feral hogs. On Page 58 of this issue, the magazine informs us about another threat to livestock and property – what some have called wild hogs with a five-foot wingspan. The American black vulture, commonly known as the black-headed buzzard, attacks lambs, piglets, and calves. I don’t know whether buzzards are a problem for the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ system of nine farms, but the story on Page 80 does report about the row crops, dairy and beef cattle, laying hens, horses, and timber that the inmates raise. The farm program addresses one of my priorities, which has been to reduce the rate of recidivism by preparing inmates for success when they leave prison. The inmates learn about farming and business management, and the work instills pride and a work ethic. Wes Ward, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, oversees all the work and activities of the Department of Agriculture. Wes, who is from Lake City, doesn’t need to read Arkansas Grown to learn about our state’s top industry. As for me, I’m happy the editors and writers are keeping the rest of us abreast about all of the good work and innovation by Arkansas farmers and ranchers. Respectfully,

Governor Asa Hutchinson State of Arkansas ARKANSAS GROWN 5

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Arkansas Grown! Welcome to the 2022 edition of Arkansas Grown! The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s goal for each annual edition is to honor the hard work and dedication of the 42,300 Arkansas farm families and the many related businesses that make agriculture the largest industry in Arkansas. Arkansas’s agriculture industry is broad, diverse, and strong. Our agricultural production includes livestock, poultry, aquaculture, row crops, specialty crops, and forestry. It touches every corner of our state and impacts the lives of every citizen, every day. As our largest industry, agriculture contributes more than $19.4 billion to the state’s economy annually and provides one of every six jobs. Arkansas consistently ranks in the top 25 in the nation in the production of more than 16 different agricultural commodities. Resiliency and innovation are bedrock traits of Arkansas agriculture and this has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry has pulled together, adapted where necessary, and kept the food supply chain moving. We are proud to have many Arkansans serving as leaders at the local, state, and national level that are at the forefront of identifying and addressing challenges and adopting innovative strategies that move our industry and our state forward. This edition of Arkansas Grown highlights the achievements, the attributes, and the individuals that make our state and our agriculture industry great. It is an honor and a privilege to serve Arkansas agriculture, an industry that even during the midst of a pandemic never stops providing the food, fiber, fuel, and shelter that we all depend on every single day. You have my assurance that the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is committed to being the strong and effective resource and partner that our agricultural producers, businesses, and rural communities deserve and expect. Respectfully,

Wes Ward Secretary of Agriculture State of Arkansas ARKANSAS GROWN 7

The Poultry Federation (TPF) is a multi-state trade organization representing the poultry and egg industry in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The purpose of The Poultry Federation is to promote and protect all poultry interests relating to production, distribution, merchandising and consumption of poultry and poultry products; to disseminate information relating to the various phases of the poultry industry in order to improve and expand markets; to increase efficiency in production and marketing; to encourage and support research in production and marketing of poultry; and to encourage and support youth programs in poultry work. Learn more about us at


Arkansas Grown, administered through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, helps promote the many agricultural products that are grown here in Arkansas. The program helps connect the growing number of consumers, who want to know where their food originates, with local producers.

Arkansas Made

Arkansas Made, another Department program, promotes goods and products manufactured in our state by businesses and connects them to potential buyers. Since 2014, Arkansas Made has encouraged the purchase of locally made products by creating a community of suppliers and buyers that call Arkansas home.

Homegrown By Heroes

When consumers search for an Arkansas Grown or Arkansas Made item and see a Homegrown By Heroes logo, they know the item was produced in Arkansas by an Arkansas veteran. In 2015, the Department adopted the national Homegrown By Heroes branding program that enables farmer veterans to market their agricultural products by labeling them as veteran-produced.




Farming With the Future In Mind Agriculture is Seeing Positive Results from Environmenal Stewardship Arkansas agriculture is focused on environmental stewardship and seeing positive results.

with water furrows. Zero-grade fields allow for more controlled water levels, less total water usage, decreased soil erosion, no-till farming, and Arkansas is the number one rice significantly decreased greenhouse producing state in the country, providing gas emissions from equipment. No-till about 48 percent of farming is another the nation's supply. practice “The farm’s background sustainable Having 14.5 million that calls for the acres of farmland in sustainable practices elimination of fuelin the Natural goes back well beyond burning plows to State can create overturn the soil. my birth.” significant pressure on the state’s natural Solar panels are a resources and environment. Sustainable growing trend among farmers due agricultural practices can work to protect to decreasing installation costs, tax the environment, expand the state’s incentives, energy savings, and a natural resources, maintain soil fertility, lower carbon footprint. Panels can and increase crop production and income provide power for irrigation, grain over the long term. drying, residences, warehouses, and more. In March, Producers Rice Mill Arkansas rice farmers are doing their announced the Arkansas Public Service part. The Arkansas Rice Federation has Commission’s approval of their 160-acre, been tracking progress in sustainability 26-megawatt solar plant in Stuttgart. practices with a focus on land, energy, The 65,000-solar module farm will be and water usage: over the past 20 the largest commercial energy storage years, rice farmers have decreased land facility in Arkansas and will save $100 use by 35 percent, energy use by 38 million over the next 30 years. percent, and water use by 53 percent. Arkansas farmers are trending toward Irrigating crops properly while using sustainability, and the avenues and the least amount of water possible is a technology to implement such practices balancing act using decades of research continue to grow. and innovative technology. Some of the methods and technologies implemented Efficient land use is all about producing include underground irrigation pipes, more crop on less land and using the sensors to read soil moisture levels, fewest resources possible. Zero-grade flow meters, pipe planning technology, fields use a precision leveling process and multiple inlet rice irrigation (MIRI), that leaves them perfectly flat from which uses disposable, thin-walled, one end to the other, surrounded by polyethylene irrigation tubing to a bordering ditch drainage system connect rice paddies. ARKANSAS GROWN 11

Mark Isbell, a fourth-generation Lonoke County farmer, farms 3,500 acres of rice. Isbell Farms is no stranger to good conservation practices. “The farm’s background in sustainable practices goes back well beyond my birth, to when my father and grandfather started leveling the land—a process which is now known as zerograde farming. It started back in the day as a labor-saving method with a focus on efficiency, and over time we realized the water savings aspect of it is incredibly important,” Isbell said. He also works to further spread the word on sustainable farming by serving on the boards of Field to Market and AgHeritage Farm Credit Services. He is a co-founder of Arva Intelligence, an agriculture technology company, and he serves as an adjunct instructor at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. In 2017, he worked with other farmers to develop the first rice-related carbon offsets, which were sold to Microsoft. “That experience was intriguing, but not at all lucrative. We learned that there are lots of opportunities out there, but also a lot of work to do to make sure farmers are compensated properly for good environmental practices,” he said. The front-end costs for things like solar panels, precision field leveling, and MIRI irrigation can be a major deterrent for farmers to move toward sustainable practices. “Primarily it comes down to risk. When you incur a risk there must be a reward to offset that,” Isbell said. He points to agencies providing cost-share for farmers including programs offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He also mentions Rural Investment to Protect Our Environment (RIPE), a farmer-led non-profit organization advancing a national climate policy plan to provide a monetary return to farmers practicing agricultural stewardship.




Arkansas Vine to Wine The Wine Industry in the Natural State Celebrates Superior Quality It only takes a moment to escape the fastpaced traffic of Interstate 40 in western Arkansas and enter what seems like another world. Highway 186 winds serenely through the hills toward Altus, unofficially known as the capital of Arkansas winemaking. With over 120 years of winemaking experience, the region is home to historic vineyards and wineries managed by descendants of the original wine-producing families.

in the 1920s, the number of wineries in Arkansas dropped drastically, but several Arkansas wineries continued to make sacramental wine, and many sold their wine underground. Tales of wineries surviving during Prohibition have been passed down from generation to generation.

One of the oldest commercial vineyards between California and New York is Post Vineyard which has been run by the Post Founded in the late 1800s by immigrants family since 1880. The sixth generation from Germany and Switzerland escaping entering the family business is represented the Franco-Prussian War, the early settlers in the new Post logo featuring six grapes were drawn to the area by the Benedictine illustrating the six generations. Wiederkehr monks of Subiaco Abbey who made Wine Cellars is the oldest vineyard in sacramental wine and table wine. These continuous operation in America and early agrarians and holds the only singleviticulturists discovered “The Arkansas Quality digit permit number the Arkansas River Wine Program will help in the heartland out of Valley resembled the over 5,400 U.S. permit serve the industry...” climate and geography numbers. Established in of their former homes 1880, the first cellars built where they grew grapes for the great wines are listed on the National Register of Historic of Europe. The Boston Mountains protect Places. These historic cellars continued the area from arctic cold fronts, creating producing wine throughout Prohibition a thermal blanket of air, significantly thanks to an Ecclesiastical Permit from Bishop decreasing the chances of a spring frost. This Edward Fitzgerald of the Diocese of Little unique climate and the rich, well-drained Rock for Wiederkehr to produce Sacramental sandy soil establish Arkansas as the oldest Wines. Mount Bethel Winery was opened and largest wine-producing state in the in 1956 by Eugene Post in the cellars of southern United States. the original winery owned by Mrs. Joseph Post, who had acquired a federal bonded Before Prohibition, Arkansas was home to winery permit and an Arkansas license to over 150 wineries in several counties and manufacture and sell wine in 1935. While produced more wine and grapes than any Chateau aux Arc (pronounced “Ozark”) is a other state. Legend says that the first wine young winery by comparison, it was the fifth in Arkansas was made in 1827 by Jesse winery to open in Arkansas since Prohibition. Hinderliter at the Hinderliter Grog Shop, on Chateau aux Arc is the first and only winery the grounds of Historic Arkansas Museum in Arkansas to be owned and operated by a in Little Rock. When Prohibition began ARKANSAS GROWN 15

woman, Audrey House, who at that time was the youngest winery owner in the world. Today, the state is home to 15 wineries. The history of Arkansas winemaking is celebrated with annual wine festivals around the state, including Arkansas’s Championship Grape Stomp in Altus. The winner of this event qualifies to attend the World Championship Grape Stomp in Sonoma County, California. According to the latest data, Arkansas’s wineries reported over $20 million in retail sales, contributing over $170 million to the state economy. Arkansas is the home of three American Viticultural Areas (AVA), recognized and defined in federal regulations as official grape-growing areas in the United States. There are close to 200 AVAs nationally, and Arkansas’s Ozark Mountain AVA ranks seventh largest in the country. In 2020, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture developed the Arkansas Quality Wine (AQW) Program, a two-year program funded by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to advance the Arkansas grape, wine quality, and wine industry. This network of scientists and experts, led by Dr. Renee Terrell Threlfall, establishes quality standards for Arkansas wine. The program provides professional development for growers and winemakers, incorporating research by Dr. John Clark, a horticulture professor, and Dr. Threlfall who released four UA System wine grape cultivars, Dazzle, Indulgence, Opportunity, and Enchantment, compatible with Arkansas’s climate. Dr. Threlfall explains, "The Arkansas Quality Wine Program will help serve the industry by not only setting quality standards for Arkansas grown and made wines, but also expanding the marketing of these wines to increase consumer awareness." The Arkansas Quality Wine program hosts a wine competition for commercial wines produced in Arkansas. Eligible wines must be made from 90% Arkansas-grown grapes. The wines must meet composition standards and mandated regulations, then are evaluated by expert wine judges for appearance, aroma, and tastes. Wines awarded a Double Gold, Gold, or Silver Medal in the AQW wine competition and passing chemical analysis ARKANSAS GROWN 16

by AQW and the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Federal Regulation are honored with the AQW Designation. The Arkansas Association of Grape Growers hosted an annual conference at the Rusty Tractor Vineyard in Little Rock in November 2021, featuring a tasting of the wines awarded with the AQW Designation. The AQW Designation guarantees a high-quality Arkansas wine earned by the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of Arkansas growers and winemakers. Learn more about the Arkansas Quality Wine Program (AQW) at

2021 AQW Designated Wines Chateau aux Arc Vineyards & Winery ● 2018 Dahlem’s Red (Silver medal) Keels Creek Winery ● 2014 Port, Big C (Silver medal) Mount Bethel Winery ● Viognier (Double Gold medal) ● Vignoles (Gold medal) Post Winery, Inc. ● Blue Parachute (Double Gold medal) ● Pink Muscadine (Gold medal) ● Prophecy (Gold medal) ● 2018 Chambourcin (Silver medal) ● Ives Noir (Silver medal) ● White Muscadine (Silver medal) Rusty Tractor Vineyards ● Enchantment (Silver medal) ● Valvin Muscat (Silver medal) ● Vignoles (Silver medal) Wiederkehr Wine Cellars ● Cynthiana (Silver medal) ● White Muscadine (Silver medal)



The Wood Next Door The Center for Forest Business Promotes Healthy Forests The need for a market-based solution to forest health led to the establishment of the Arkansas Center for Forest Business at the University of Arkansas at Monticello School of Forestry in June 2021. The concept was initially a joint effort between Dr. Phillip Tappe, former Dean of the University of Arkansas at Monticello School of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources (UAM CFANR), and UAM CFANR forestry professor Dr. Matthew Pelkki to develop long-term markets, a need raised by Representative Ken Bragg, member of the Arkansas House of Representatives. "Forest density in Arkansas has risen more than 80% since 1978," said Pelkki. "Our concern is that this denser, older forest is susceptible to insects, fire, and disease, all of which could be made worse by climate change." Pelkki continued, “In a nutshell, our idea is that healthy forest markets make it easier to sustain healthy forests, wildlife, clean air and water, and at the same time provide high-paying jobs in rural Arkansas." The concept was refined with input from Representative Bragg, the Arkansas Forestry Association, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, UAM Chancellor Peggy Doss, and others. With key legislative support from Bragg, Senator Lane Jean, and other members of the Forestry Caucus, Governor Hutchinson was convinced the plan has merit and provided seed funding of $450,000.

"We are now working on getting funding of $850,000 annually in the line-item budget for UAM in the next fiscal year," said Bragg. “We will be working with the budget committee, the Governor's Office, and the Department of Finance to secure permanent financing." "I think the potential for the Center for Forest Business is still beyond our vision at this point," said Doss. “Immediately the Center is promoting industry and business opportunities and working with forest industries to develop new markets for existing products.” The Center started operations last July and currently has six technical experts in forest management, economics, policy, and statistics. Pelkki said, "The Center's vision is to connect forests and people to sustain healthy forests, strengthen a green bio-economy, and support vibrant rural communities in Arkansas." He added, "We work with many partners, including the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, the Arkansas Department of Commerce Economic Development Commission, and many regional economic development agencies." "Our current focus is providing information on timber supply, economics related to the forest products supply chain, and market information for industry recruitment," said Pelkki. "The Arkansas Center for Forest Business provides the state with a good marketing tool," said Bragg. "I've heard of companies ARKANSAS GROWN 19

coming to Arkansas and wanting to locate here. They ask for Arkansas data about logging capacity, timber resources, wages, worker supply, and we don't have it." Bragg added, "It puts us at an economic disadvantage with other southern states that have a lot more emphasis on their economic research in their forestry departments than Arkansas." Dr. Michael Blazier, Dean of the UAM CFANR, is also the Director of the Arkansas Forest Resource Center, which is a Center of Excellence within the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The UAM CFANR houses both agencies, as well as research, teaching, and outreach programs in forestry, agriculture, and natural resources. "There is a role for the Center for Forest Business in both entities," said Blazier. He adds, "The Center for Forest Business will assist in economic development but will also have an educational mission that will provide training to students and practitioners through outreach classes and certificate programs. The Center will build collaborations and draw upon the UAM School of Business and technical programs in heavy equipment and industrial operations at UAM-McGehee and UAM-Crossett. Blazier added, "First and foremost, the mission of the Center for Forest Business is to utilize cutting edge technologies to sustainably support the development of the forest industry and ensure that forest landowners and the public benefit from a sustainable, healthy forest, and good jobs. "The benefits of the Center for Forest Business will be multifaceted," said Doss. Forestry research has been going on for decades at UAM, according to Doss. "Within that research, you'll see an outgrowth of opportunities for new product development and commercialization of those products." She thinks the Arkansas Center for Forest Business will find opportunities to partner with other entities in the state. "They'll take our research, see the value of it, and help businesses commercialize it," said Doss. More information on the University of Arkansas Center for Forest Business is available at https://


The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division and the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) named Shylee Head as the recipient of the first Foresters for the Future Scholarship. The scholarship provides $4,000 per semester, for four years, to an incoming freshman, pursuing a forestry degree at UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources. Shylee Head, from Mena, was a member of the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society. She was also a member of the Mena High School band and jazz band and has won multiple awards for her musical talents. Head was an active member of her local FFA chapter throughout her high school career, including competing as a member of the nursery and landscape Career Development Event team which first introduced her to forestry. “My advisor suggested I take his forestry class in order to help me understand the tree portion of my competition,” said Head. “Now I am pursuing a degree in natural resource management in hopes of landing a job in timber management. I became so excited about my newfound passion, I would find myself purchasing books on the lives of trees and listening to podcasts and news reports. I enveloped myself in the world of trees.” Head was a first-generation college student beginning the fall of 2021 at UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources. She hopes that taking this step for her future will inspire her younger brothers to pursue their passions as well. Foresters for the Future Scholarship recipients will partake in a paid internship exploring the various sections of the Forestry Division annually through their college career. The internship will allow them to experience the many career paths within forestry and strengthen their skill set before they enter their respective field. The scholarship program was established by Act 399 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly. The underlying legislation, House Bill 1389, was sponsored by Representative Ken Bragg and Senator Ben Gilmore and was signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson on March 17, 2021.

LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY Food Safety, Regulatory Compliance, Animal Health






pounds of chicken meat inspected



farms in Arkansas produce chickens


859 MILLION pounds of turkey meat inspected

1.57 Billion chicken eggs graded annually

in the National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP)

885,000 pigs raised annually


Health Certificates processed




farms in Arkansas producing ca�le


Animal Movement Permits issued

hours worked at 85 livestock events

pounds of rabbit meat inspected

13,374 certified flocks





cal�ood vaccina�ons by livestock inspectors

equine infec�ous anemia (EIA) tests performed


ca�le tagged for disease traceability

17 million gallons

of milk produced annually

Diagnostic Procedures performed

Information provided by the Livestock and Poultry Division 2021 INFOGRAPHIC PROVIDED BY THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Visit for more information.


Dairy Making a Difference Dairy Community Committed to a Healthy and Sustainable Future A cold glass of milk is considered by many to be one of life’s simple pleasures. As Arkansas dairy farmers know all too well, the process of getting that glass of milk to your table is anything but simple. Arkansas’s dairy industry impacts the state’s economy by contributing over $3.9 billion and creating almost 22,000 jobs. Milk was named Arkansas’s official beverage in 1985. The dairy industry in Arkansas has two distinct components: production and processing. On the production side, the number of dairy farms in Arkansas has declined significantly over the past three decades. Records from the Arkansas Department of Health show a decline from 850 licensed Grade “A” dairy farms in 1990 to 34 Grade “A” dairy farms in 2021. Arkansas is also home to three small “Manufacturing” Grade dairy farms. The steady decline in the number of dairy farms in Arkansas is attributable to several factors, including the physical demands of the industry, the challenges of handling a highly perishable food product, and a host of issues impacting profitability. Dairy farming is a “7 days a week, 365 days a year” way of life. Dairy cows are milked at least twice a day, and while technology has made this process more efficient, it has not reduced the overall daily hands-on care and attention required to maintain a healthy and productive dairy herd. The dairy sector is subject to the same negative impacts from rising input costs as other sectors, but also has the added

challenges of handling a highly perishable and highly regulated food product. Milk is typically shipped within 48 hours but must be shipped within 72 hours. It is subject to a plethora of complex food safety, transportation, and marketing regulations and procedures at the state and federal levels. Low milk prices, fluctuating demand, and competition from alternative products also add to the challenges that make it difficult for Arkansas dairy farms to stay in business. Arkansas’s dairy processing capacity far exceeds its production capacity. Arkansas is home to three commercial dairy processors, Hiland Dairy, Turkey Hill Dairy, and Sugar Creek Foods. Turkey Hill Dairy produces ice cream at the former Yarnell facility in Searcy. The Sugar Creek Foods facility in Russellville produces mixes for soft-serve ice cream and yogurts. Hiland has three dairy plants in Arkansas located in Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville and produces approximately 1.5 million gallons of milk per week. The 62 million pounds of milk produced by Arkansas dairies in 2020 is less than 10 percent of the volume needed by Hiland Dairy annually. “Hiland Dairy employs more than 440 Arkansans and is invested in communities across the state,” said Mike Flagg, general manager of Hiland Dairy in Little Rock. “Our high-quality products start with our farmer-owners who are committed to locally made, naturally delicious products. When a consumer chooses Hiland products they are choosing local Arkansas dairy.” ARKANSAS GROWN 23

Frederick Simon is a dairy farmer with Simon Brothers Dairy, one of the 34 remaining Grade “A” dairies in Arkansas. “Dairy farming requires a large investment and an intense level of management. You have to consider it a career rather than a shortterm job to be able to capture the highs so you can weather the inevitable lows,” said Simon. Simon serves as chair of the Arkansas Milk Stabilization Board, an entity created by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2007 to develop a Dairy Stabilization Program to assist Arkansas dairy farmers while being equitable to all parties in the state’s dairy industry. The Milk Stabilization Board consists of five members appointed by the Governor, including two actively engaged in dairy farming, a milk processor, a retailer, and a consumer. The board implemented a Dairy Stabilization Program that was administered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture from 2007 until the one-time funding for the program was exhausted in 2013. The Milk Stabilization Board has again been instructed by the Arkansas legislature to implement a program to reverse the decline of dairy farms in the state. Act 521, enacted during the 2021 session of the Arkansas General Assembly, gives the Milk Stabilization Board jurisdiction over Arkansas milk prices and requires that milk producers receive Class I fluid prices for milk produced and sold within Arkansas. Simon said, “Act 521 creates a potential path towards profit margins for the state’s dairy farms. With optimism, legislative support, and a realistic formula for profits, the next generation of Arkansas family dairy farms will hopefully find sustainability

and growth for what is currently an almost exhausted industry in our state.” Dairy is a nutritious and affordable part of a healthy diet. Consuming dairy, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, helps meet recommendations for important shortfall nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Milk is an economical source of 13 essential nutrients and is an integral component of school breakfast and lunch programs across the country. The dairy industry is focused on being good environmental stewards through innovation and conservation. According to Midwest Dairy, an association that works to build dairy demand on behalf of the 5,800 dairy farm families it represents, the dairy industry has become more sustainable with advances in cow care, nutrition, genetics, and technology. Milk production in the U.S. has nearly doubled between the 1960s and today despite fewer cows. Today, each gallon of milk produced requires 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than it did 70 years ago. The U.S. dairy industry has set voluntary environmental stewardship goals for 2050 that include achieving greenhouse gas emission neutrality, optimizing water use while maximizing recycling, and improving water quality through the optimization of nutrients and manure. “Dairy holds its place as a staple food item across our state and throughout the nation. No other product or beverage can or ever will replace the natural content of real milk. The phrase 'milk does a body good' still rings true,” said Simon.



TO YOUR TABLES More than 70% of the CORN grown in the state of Arkansas is used to feed the local poultry market. SORGHUM offers a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.

The Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board was established to provide Arkansas’s growers with the tools and resources necessary to improve profitability and sustainability. Arkansas farmers grew 605,000 acres of corn with production of 111,000,000 bushels. Approximately, 70% of Arkansas corn is used in state for feed grain purposes primarily for poultry.

Arkansas Corn & Grain Sorghum Board w w w


c o r n


s o r g h u m


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Century Farm Charm Family Farm Pivoting into the 21st Century In 1888, through the Homestead Act of 1862, George W. Haile established a farm along the Little Red River in Cleburne County. The venture was a 169 acre cotton farm with a house and small barn. Once established, Haile sent for his family in Tennessee to join him in what would be a multi-generational family farm. Now known as Valley Farms, the family primarily grows cucumbers, okra, pumpkins, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon on 70 acres.

records. These documents not only helped with the application process but also uncovered some unique history, giving the family some perspective of the farm’s journey.

The endurance of family farms is a common story in agricultural areas. However, in the face of numerous challenges, many farms aren’t able to continue operations. To manage a farm is an achievement; to keep it in operation for several decades is extraordinary.

The uncovered documents also backed up the stories of the farm’s challenges through the years, providing added satisfaction of becoming an Arkansas Century Farm.

Farming operations like Valley Farms that have maintained business for at least 100 years are eligible to become an Arkansas Century Farm, a program of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Currently, there are more than 500 farms in the state that are recognized with this title. In November 2021, Valley Farms was officially recognized as one of these prestigious Arkansas farms. Valley Farms has been passed down through the Haile family and is now managed by Avril Dean Haile. On the insistence of Travis Haile, Avril’s grandson, the family began the process of becoming an Arkansas Century Farm. This required them to track down deeds and land purchase

“It has shown us how quickly 100 years goes by and how much can happen,” said Travis Haile. “It was interesting looking through a deed over 100 years old and seeing all the purchases from selling the timber and railroad easement along the Little Red River.”

“The family spent so many years dedicating their lives to raising a crop on this farm that we thought others should know the dedication and importance of hard work and family,” said Travis. “Some of the biggest challenges have been droughts, frosts, and competition from big box stores.” Pressing through familiar challenges and the emergence of new ones, Travis believes the farm will continue down the same path of producing healthy and fresh vegetables for consumers. This dedication brings his family and employees continued satisfaction. “The best part about the farm is the satisfaction of making a crop and seeing the smiling face of a happy customer.”


Healthy Forests Jobs Communities

It is no secret that online shopping increased during the pandemic. To help consumers find our farmers, ranchers, and producers, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture launched a new website that enables members to create customized profiles showcasing their farms and products with • • • • •

Videos Photo Galleries User-friendly interactive maps Events Links to social media and more!

This is the first website of its kind that connects a state’s local food branding programs with a farm to school program and streamlines the process for schools to buy from farmers to procure locally grown and produced food for their students.

Membership is FREE

for farmers, ranchers, producers, and schools. Learn more at

Thank You!



The Arkansas Century Farm Program recognizes Arkansas farm families who have owned and operated a farm of 10 acres or more for a least 100 years. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture began the Century Farm program in 2012 as a way to highlight the impact of these families on the agriculture industry as well as their overall contributions to our state.

Congratulations 2021 Century Farm inductees!

Number of Century Farms by Region Since the program began, 526 farms have been inducted. In 2021, 32 additional farms were inducted.

7 N Farms Bennett's River-Cotter Family Farm Byrd Ranch


32 IN 2021

Churchman Farms Crimp & Eddie Knight Legacy Farm D.L. Scroggins Family Farm Daniel Family Farm Douglas Family Farm Fisher -Shaffer Family Farm Iron Creek Farms John Berry Horton Farm





John Tucker Estate





Kocourek Family Farm Larry Charles and Barbara Ann Rice Farm Leeth Family Farm Leon Clardy Estate M.H. Pipkin Family Farm Mahar -Jeffrey Family Farm Mann Family Farm Martin Tree Farm May Family Farm





McGaughey Farm Nixon Farm Nutt Farms Oak Dale Farm Perrin Farm Shaw Farm

The Arkansas Century Farm program is open for applications each year from February until May. To get more information about applying, visit:

Simonis-Thien Farms Simpson Farm Smith Family Farm LLC Valley Farms WB&B Ranch

Information provided by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Century Farm Program 2021.



Veterans Branching Out Homegrown By Heroes Scholarship Assists Military Personnel For several years, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) has partnered with Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas to offer Homegrown By Heroes scholarships to Arkansas military veterans and their immediate families who are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture. The Homegrown By Heroes scholarship is affiliated with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Homegrown By Heroes program, a national program that supports farmer veterans and helps them market their locally grown agriculture products by labeling them as veteran-grown and produced. Both awardees in 2021 are retired and active military personnel pursuing careers in agriculture. Madeline Fortune graduated summa cum laude from Stuttgart High School. She currently serves in the Army National Guard, where she was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Service Ribbon for hurricane relief efforts. A double-legacy in the farming community, both sides of her family have a long history in agriculture. Rice farming has been the foundation of Fortune's family farming operations for six generations.

Michael Suttle retired after 20 years of service in the United States Army where he received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. A graduate of Camden Fairview High School, Suttle was deployed once to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan. He attended one year at Arkansas State University, earning a place on the Dean's List before joining the Army. Suttle attends Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia as an agriculture business major and farms his small-scale poultry and beef operation with an apiary/pollination program. Suttle is joined in his farming operation by his parents, his wife, Kellie, and Bruna, his cattle dog, who also retired from the military, after working alongside Suttle in explosive detection. Suttle also joined the Arkansas chapters of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and Homegrown By Heroes. As an Arkansas Homegrown By Heroes member, he received a highway-grade metal sign with the name of his farm, Suttle Farms. Secretary Wes Ward presented Suttle with his sign at the Department.

Fortune and Suttle were honored during an event hosted by Farm Credit Associations Fortune attends the University of Central of Arkansas and the Department. The event Arkansas and works at the Veterans included lunch and presentations made Resource Center, assisting other service by a representative providing information members and veterans. Fortune's goal is to on the responsibilities of their division in one day work with an agricultural marketing the Department, followed by a tour of the agency or agricultural service organization. Laboratory Services division.


“It is an honor to award the Homegrown by Heroes scholarships to these talented individuals who have served and continue to serve our country in the military,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “We appreciate our partnership with Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas who generously provide the funding for the scholarships, which enables us to continue supporting such worthy students.”

“It is an honor to award the Homegrown by Heroes scholarships to these talented individuals...” The latest data indicates that Arkansas is home to approximately 8,000 producers with military service. The average age of these producers is 67 years old. Almost half of these producers have another job in addition to working on their land. Veterans face many challenges as they transition to civilian life. Farming can offer a sense of purpose as well as physical and psychological benefits. The Department and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are dedicated to supporting our farmers, ranchers, and producers with military service.


FARMERS MARKETS Farmers Markets and other direct to consumer sales

In Arkansas, there are more than 1,500 farmers selling directly to consumers

in sales were generated by direct sales to consumers in 2019

Look for the Arkansas Grown or Arkansas Made logo to ensure products are locally grown or made

80% of all Arkansas coun�es have an ac�ve farmers market


ac�ve farmers markets in opera�on in Arkansas

A farmers market is a place where producers from a local area gather to sell their own product directly to the local consumer

Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light will be working with local growers to provide produce at farm stands in the following areas in the Summer of 2022:


SNAP benefits and Double Up Food Bucks may be used to purchase local fresh produce. Menus and recipes will be provided in grocery sacks. Look for the Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light signs.






Arkansas Agriculture Goes Around the World SUSTA Helps Arkansas Companies Expand Into New and Foreign Markets In 2020, agricultural exports that left Arkansas for international markets totaled over $3.56 billion. Mexico, Canada, China, and Haiti were the top four markets receiving Arkansas ag products. Soybeans, rice, cotton, and broiler meat top the list of agricultural goods exported. It is no surprise that Arkansas’s agricultural bounty is sought after internationally. After all, it is the number one industry in the state driven by fertile fields, farms, and business savvy. But how does an Arkansas producer of beef jerky, for example, find a buyer in the Middle East?

to international trade shows, modifying packaging and labels for foreign markets, instore sampling, and others. CostShare is for companies that are ready to spend time and money tackling a foreign market. Companies can start with export education, which consists of webinars with experts in the field, an Export Helpline to answer specific questions, Export Readiness Training, and more.

Once ready to meet with foreign buyers, there is a long calendar of events where participants can pay “Our producers gained as little as $25 to meet Nearly 50 years ago, foreign buyers. For exposure in several sectors example, every year the U.S. Department of this vast market, from SUSTA will bring a of Agriculture asked hospitality to retail...” the same question. In delegation of importers the early 1970s, they from Mexico to Georgia created a trade association dedicated and Texas where they will meet with SUSTA to supporting exporters from Arkansas companies. These inbound trade missions are and the entire South. The Southern an affordable way to test the waters and pitch U.S. Trade Association (SUSTA) has a products to buyers from another country. membership made up of the Departments of Agriculture in 14 states and Puerto Rico. SUSTA also organizes outbound trade missions during which the U.S. companies The Arkansas Department of Agriculture travel internationally to meet with foreign is an active member, and Secretary Wes buyers. In 2019, Secretary Ward joined Ward sits on the board of SUSTA. SUSTA in Mumbai and New Delhi for a trade SUSTA’s participants are small agrimission, a chef master class, and the SIAL businesses with big goals for international India trade show. “It was an incredibly busy growth. Through the 50% CostShare and productive week of promotions and program, SUSTA reimburses half of meetings. Our producers gained exposure international marketing expenses, in several sectors of this vast market, from alleviating some of the financial burden hospitality to retail, as well as a wealth of associated with exporting. Eligible expenses education. This kind of introduction to a include advertising internationally (social country as large and varied as India would media, influencers, billboards, wrapping not be possible but for the support of a van, and more), exhibition at and travel SUSTA,” said Secretary Ward. ARKANSAS GROWN 35

There are major trade shows dedicated to food and agriculture all over the world, and SUSTA has pavilions at many of them. For instance, Arkansas’s Caribe Producers, makers of Five Star Jerky, exhibited in the SUSTA pavilion at Gulfood in Dubai in 2020 and 2021. They were even named a finalist for Most Innovative Halal product in 2021.

“Without SUSTA, we would not have considered promoting our beef jerky internationally because of how daunting it could be.” To support the expense of going to this major show, Caribe applied for 50% reimbursement of their booth, travel, and other expenses through SUSTA’s CostShare program. "Without SUSTA, we would not have considered promoting our beef jerky internationally because of how daunting it could be. SUSTA's resources, including the 50% Cost Share program, encouraged us to expand to international markets and the support from SUSTA has been excellent. Being in the USA Pavilion at Gulfood with other U.S. manufacturers was a real boost as buyers from multiple countries came to our booth, buyers we may have never met without the support of SUSTA encouraging small business to promote their products for export," said Michael Hocklander, CEO. “We learned that building relationships is a cornerstone of doing business in the Middle East, so we are headed back to the show in 2022. We are excited about our future as a small business exporting to the world.” It is a big world out there, full of consumers. SUSTA’s mission is to make sure that southern U.S. agricultural producers, like Caribe, have the opportunity and resources to compete for those consumers.


Arkansas Grown Mag Half Page Ad


Enjoy the entire Arkansas Grown publication at your fingertips with our digital magazine. Read, share, and enjoy the stories of Arkansas farmers wherever you go! Visit the Department website to view the complete online version of Arkansas Grown at:

Investing in the Future Youth Programs Recognize Outstanding Students Poultry is the largest sector of Arkansas agriculture. Nationally, Arkansas ranks second in the production of chicken and turkey meat and tenth in eggs. Over 6,500 farms in our state produce poultry with an economic impact of more than $4.4 billion. This important agricultural industry is supported by The Poultry Federation. Established in 1954 as the Arkansas Poultry Federation, the organization was founded as a nonprofit trade organization representing the state’s poultry and egg industries. In 1998, the Arkansas Poultry Federation consolidated with Oklahoma and Missouri and was re-named The Poultry Federation (TPF). The purpose of TPF is to promote and protect the poultry industry, maintain a network of industry information, and support research and youth programs. One of these youth programs is The Poultry Federation Allied Industries Scholarship Program. The Poultry Federation takes an active role in our state’s future by investing in our future leaders in the agriculture industry. The Poultry Federation awarded $166,000 in scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year to 40 undergraduate and 21 graduate students in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. These are outstanding students in various stages of their academic journey who are committed to involvement in the poultry industry. Four of the recent awardees are Lesleigh Beer, Cole Crumpacker, Kasey Williams, and Dawsyn Smith. A five-time recipient of The Poultry Federation Scholarship, Lesleigh Beer personifies the impact this scholarship will have on the future of the poultry industry. Recently graduating with a Ph.D. in Poultry Health and Nutrition, Beer has a great interest in connecting nutrition with health and disease in her research program. ARKANSAS GROWN 38

“Lesleigh has demonstrated leadership skills and participated in extracurricular activities throughout her collegiate career,” said Craig Coon, Professor of Poultry Nutrition, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas. “Lesleigh was President of the Poultry Science Club, a Bumpers College Student Ambassador, and was invited as a Q&A panelist for the honors research project at the Honors College Research Conference. Prolific as a researcher, Lesleigh has co-authored seven peerreviewed publications with two more currently under review and has co-authored ten abstracts.” As a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas, Beer manages contract research animal trials, interfaces with industry scientists and veterinarians, assists professors, reviews manuscripts for Poultry Science, and trains students in laboratory techniques, data analysis, and animal care. Beer aspires to incorporate her microbiology and biochemistry interests to benefit the poultry industry, addressing the challenge of innovating solutions to real-world problems. “I am committed to the poultry industry,” said Beer, “and the years of dedication to enhancing my knowledge through the undergraduate and graduate poultry science degree program can attest to that commitment. I seek to contribute towards improving feed efficiency, health, and nutritional well-being of poultry.” Currently pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Cole Crumpacker began his impressive academic and work career at the age of eight. Crumpacker consistently demonstrates that he is intelligent and diligent. Working as a farmhand for his father on the family cattle farm, Crumpacker decided to diversify his education and career path with experience in the poultry industry. The Poultry Federation recognized Crumpacker’s effort and dedication by awarding him the TPF Scholarship three times. Funding

from the TPF Scholarship program has enabled Crumpacker to pursue his commitment to the field of poultry science. Crumpacker interned with Dr. Kabel Robbins for two summers at Butterball, LLC, a member of The Poultry Federation. As an intern, Crumpacker conducted a project evaluating water quality and sanitation, studied how feed additives affect bird health and rate of gain, and collected dermatitis samples for antibiotic sensitivity. “The days that I hosted Cole were some of the most pleasurable I have experienced with a student due to his ease of communication and genuine interest. I plan to continue to mentor him throughout this education and look forward to the day he joins me in the poultry industry, hopefully as a fellow veterinarian,” said Dr. Robbins.

“I seek to contribute towards improving feed efficiency, health, and nutritional wellbeing of poultry.” Crumpacker enhanced his educational journey with active involvement in multiple agriculture organizations: Pre-Vet Club, Poultry Science Club, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association’s first Collegiate Cattlemen’s Chapter, 4-H, and the National Agriculture Fraternity – Alpha Gamma Rho. In addition to clubs and organizations, Crumpacker traveled to Southeast Asia as part of an organized study abroad, working at the Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo in Thailand. In this role, he assisted veterinarians with surgeries, necropsies, and animal care for the zoo residents including rhinos, lions, cobras, pythons, and kangaroos. After graduating from veterinary school, Crumpacker’s goal is to work for a poultry integrator. Growing up in a family that has farmed for three generations, it seems natural that Kacey Williams is majoring in agricultural education at Arkansas Tech University. After graduation this spring, Williams plans to pursue a career as an ag teacher leading classes such as agriculture ARKANSAS GROWN 39

survey, leadership, plant science, and animal science.

Dawsyn Smith discovered Heavily involved in extracurricular her activities in high school, Williams passion for was elected to a state office as agriculture Arkansas FFA Reporter. on her own with no influence from family “In this role, she was able to heritage. The daughter of a inspire and motivate agriculture nurse and a businessman, Smith students across the state. After her developed a talent for financial state office term, she continued math and calculation at a young to be a positive influence within age. Introduced to agriculture in our agriculture department,” high school, Smith found a new said Bryan D. Rank, Ph.D. and interest. Smith’s enthusiasm for Assistant Professor of Agricultural agriculture quickly led to a busy Education for career with FFA Arkansas Tech “This scholarship is a as the Arkansas University. FFA State step towards my goal of In addition President. In working within, what I to the many that role, she believe to be, the most hours devoted planned and rewarding industry.” to FFA, facilitated Williams three weeks was instrumental in developing of the Arkansas Leadership a community service project Conference, three leadership each year, growing the event conferences for first-year FFA significantly and leading the members, Chapter Presidents effort to provide meals to over Conference, and the 92nd Arkansas 10,000 people in need. Williams FFA State Convention. was recognized with the state Her talent for business and her champion proficiency award in newfound love for agriculture led agricultural education for her work Smith to pursue an agribusiness with this event. degree at Southern Arkansas “In high school, I was very active in University. She serves as a FFA and took every ag class I could President’s Ambassador and assists fit into my schedule,” said Williams. University advisors. “I realized that I was extremely “Dawsyn is a natural leader, and passionate about agriculture and others are drawn to her for her loved being able to teach the insight, humility, and ability to content to the students.” place their needs above her own. The funding Williams received Within any group, she makes a from the TPF Scholarship for two positive difference to that group years, combined with additional and influences others to make wise scholarships and awards, enabled decisions,” said Copie Moore, Ph.D. her to pursue this passion, and Associate Professor at SAU– enhancing the agriculture industry Magnolia. “Dawsyn embodies the for our future generations. philosophies of servant leadership, where she always strives to serve ARKANSAS GROWN 40

others and will never ask something of her followers that she will not do herself. She leads by example and is an individual a person can rely upon to do any task and to perform this task with enthusiasm, hard work, and determination.” Smith’s experience in the poultry industry launched with poultry science camps, but her work as an intern for Farm Credit Associations of Western Arkansas cultivated her enthusiasm when she worked with individuals within the industry. Smith interned with Sam’s Club in their corporate office in Bentonville and was presented the opportunity to continue her work with Sam’s Club as a full-time employee after graduation in May 2022.

Farmer, owner, professional, mom, student. Whatever your title, we’re here to help you grow and network as women in ag.

Smith’s career goal is to obtain a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management while starting her career at Sam’s Club, then pursue a career within the agriculture industry in the field of logistics and distribution. “I understand the TPF Scholarship is more than an award,” said Smith. “This scholarship is a step towards my goal of working within, what I believe to be, the most rewarding industry.” The Poultry Federation partners with The Arkansas Community Foundation to offer scholarships to sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate-level

students pursuing a degree toward a career in the poultry and egg industry. All scholarship recipients are selected in a collaborative effort by the TPF Scholarship Committee and The Arkansas Community Foundation. Interested students can go online to and locate The Poultry Federation Scholarship Program to learn more about the program.



Veterinary Technology Comes Home to Roost ASU-Beebe Veterinary Technology Program Provides Support to the Agriculture Industry Each day before classes begin at Arkansas State University-Beebe, Veterinary Technology program staff and students are already at work preparing for the day, which begins and ends with providing care for the Veterinary Technology resident animals.

“We strive to give the students a wellrounded education with a variety of animals and situations so they can be as confident working one-on-one with someone’s pet as they are with large animal needs. Most veterinarians in Arkansas treat a variety of animal needs. We want graduates to be versatile in their abilities and skillsets, so they can make the best career choices.”

Many of the animals living at the Veterinary Technology program facilities were adopted by the program and are used for teaching purposes to replicate a Veterinary technicians veterinary clinic setting may administer “It is our goal to prepare and impart real-world veterinary treatments students to provide care for and care under veterinary medicine all types of animals.” to students through the supervision hands-on learning. and direction of a licensed veterinarian responsible for the The ASU-Beebe Veterinary performance of that veterinary technician. Technology program is housed on the ASUStudents must complete five semesters Beebe farm, which is the only working farm of the Veterinary Technology program on a community college campus in the state. classes. Upon completion of the Associate of In addition to classrooms, the agriculture Applied Science in Veterinary Technology, program has a 150-acre farm featuring students are qualified to take the Veterinary pasture, livestock working facilities, an Technology National Examination to orchard, an arena, a greenhouse, and a shop. become a certified veterinary technician. The ASU-Beebe Veterinary Technology program is under the direction of Dr. Kristie Coley, a practicing veterinarian. Students in the program are taught by a staff of certified veterinary technicians. Veterinary technology instruction includes both small and large animal breeds, which provides students with experience in providing for the needs of individual pet owners, farmers and ranchers, wildlife management, and even exotic animals. “It is our goal to prepare students to provide care for all types of animals,” said Dr. Coley.

Veterinary Technology program graduate Kaitlyn Barnett recently completed an internship at a veterinarian clinic. “My classes really prepared me for working in a fast-paced, mixed animal practice,” said Barnett. “We learned terminology, anatomy of the animal, and skills required of a lead technician. In human medicine, you have separate specialists for medical needs, such as drawing blood, anesthesia, and radiology. A veterinary technologist must perform all of these skills and more on a variety of animals. It is a very rewarding career.”


During a typical vaccination clinic for cattle, the classroom instruction includes assessing the health of the animal, nutritional needs, types of vaccines required, and proper administration of vaccines. The students then receive hands-on instruction at the ASU-Beebe farm using the farm’s cattle to learn about herding techniques, corral and head gate safety measures, and constant awareness of the changing environment, while providing for the best outcomes.

“Students in the program also participate in outreach and volunteerism opportunities in surrounding communities.” The ASU-Beebe Veterinary Technology program offers students an opportunity to join the local chapter of the Student Chapter of National Veterinary Technicians of America (ScNAVTA). Participation in ScNAVTA helps students learn the value of community service and networking with other members locally and nationally. “Students in the program also participate in outreach and volunteerism opportunities in surrounding communities,” said Dr. Coley. The program assists with animal shelters, including those in Ward and Beebe. Dr. Coley said students learn from administering to the health needs of the shelter dogs and cats, which provides a valuable community service for their adoption programs. Additional outreach efforts include hosting elementary and middle school-aged children at the program facilities and having students speak at local schools about their experiences in the program and available careers in the veterinary technology field. The ASU-Beebe Veterinary Technology program began in Fall 2007 and graduated the first class in 2009. Full accreditation was awarded in 2014. The veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA CVTEA) must meet the Standards of Accreditation of the CVTEA to ensure the quality of the educational experience and the assessment of student knowledge and skills. More information on the ASU-Beebe Veterinary Technology program is available at https://www.asub. edu/vet-tech/.




Pesticides, Regulatory Services, Quality Control, Bureau of Standards, Inspection Services










pounds of fruits and vegetables inspected









quality assurance tests on seeds for more than 100 different crops

#29 IN WHEAT Arkansas is na�onally ranked #1 in Rice produc�on, valued at $1.3 Billion annually





vegetable OIL OATS



#21 IN HAY





tons of peanuts graded


export products certified free of pests, weeds, and diseases

56,348 registered bee colonies


3,354 registered beekeepers

pes�cides registered and monitored

N-P-K tests performed on 1,072,549 TONS OF FERTILIZER


Inspections and Testing


fuel dispensers tested


retail business inspections



scale inspections

of unwanted pes�cides across Arkansas safely disposed of since 2015

Information provided by the Plant Industries Division 2021 INFOGRAPHIC PROVIDED BY THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Visit for more information.


Greener Pastures Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition Adopts New Strategic Vision The phrase itself invokes the promise of Garner asserts that once producers begin new opportunity, success, abundance, to recognize the benefits of their decision and attainment. These are all aspirations to implement rotational grazing, many we seek to find in life and in work. For the will quickly graduate to an intensive humble farmer or rancher, their life is their grazing system and explore a variety of grid work and their work is a lifestyle. Many and paddock designs that best suit their farmers and ranchers operate on land that property’s geography and resources. has been in the family for generations. Moving “Improving your grazing Upon the successful is not an option. It’s not management system can implementation of a rotational grazing even a consideration. add significant value to system, land managers So, let’s be clear – when your operation...” can expect to enjoy the Arkansas Grazing healthier soils, increased Lands Coalition (AGLC) forage production, less weeds and invites you to join them on the road to undesirable vegetation, and the ability to ‘greener pastures’ – they’re not suggesting keep livestock fed throughout the year for you relocate by any means. Rather, it is greater periods of time while reducing their a proposition to improve the land you herd’s supplemental nutrition requirements. manage and the way in which you manage This allows producers to increase their it to achieve optimum forage production, stocking rates and in turn improve their stocking rates, sustainability, and in bottom line. Land managers can maximize effect – profits. the productivity and efficiency of their The management systems that AGLC grazing system when they consult with endorses range from basic and simplistic to their local Natural Resources Conservation complex and regimented, each with its own Service (NRCS). NRCS employees are a unique set of advantages. Regardless, land wealth of knowledge and can help producers managers are positioning themselves to make decisions that will complement reap the rewards of any system they choose their management systems by providing to implement. guidelines and resources to help ensure the feasibility of certain aspects of a grazing plan “Taking even the most rudimentary steps such as fencing, water delivery systems, and to improving your grazing management the maintenance of heavy-use areas. system can add significant value to your operation,” said Stan Garner, a Yell County Of course, the process of integrating a cattleman and AGLC chair. “Most producers high-functioning grazing management with an interest in grazing methods typically system doesn’t happen overnight. start their journey experimenting with a Successful integrations require extensive simple rotational grazing system.” planning, effort, and a commitment of both time and capital. ARKANSAS GROWN 47

“We understand that these factors create a barrier for producers who are on the fence about establishing a rotational grazing system,” said AGLC Executive Director Carson Horn. “To help producers overcome that obstacle, AGLC has created a path to lowering that hurdle and provide producers with the resources and support they need to improve their operations.” As part of a new strategic vision, AGLC is launching a membership campaign in 2022 to recruit land managers with a vested interest in grazing small to large ruminants. Those who join AGLC as members will receive a benefits package consisting of numerous resources curated to help offset producers’ investment in the implementation and maintenance of advanced grazing and conservation systems. Members will also enjoy exclusive access to continuing education and learning opportunities, networking events, and other benefits. In addition, members will find satisfaction in knowing that their contributions are an investment in the sustainable future of the Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition that will help ensure the organization’s important mission and programming continues. “We believe there are greener pastures in the future of AGLC,” Garner remarked. “As our organization takes this important next step in its path to growth and maturity, we are excited about the potential we have to affect real change for the betterment of our grazing lands in Arkansas and the opportunity to help producers around the state realize their growth potential in the process.” For more information about becoming a charter member of the Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition and the benefits of becoming a member, follow AGLC on social media or visit


Serving Arkansas Producers for 50 Years ARKANSAS SOYBEAN PROMOTION BOARD


the top row crop in Arkansas

Since 1971, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board has been working with producers to promote the Arkansas soybean industry. Today, soybeans are recognized as the top row crop in Arkansas, with 3 million acres planted each year and contributing $2 billion annually to the state’s economy. To learn more about the Arkansas soybean industry, follow ASPB on social media or visit

Follow ASPB on social media

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Soy Checkoff Checks in on Arkansas Arkansas Hosts National Soybean Leaders For 50 years, the Arkansas Soybean Regrettably the spread of the global Promotion Board has steadfastly pandemic that year squashed Carroll’s supported the state’s soybean plans. However, two years since that industry. During that time, Arkansas dream was snuffed, the board has has become one of the nation’s top banded together to make good on soybean producing states. In addition Carroll’s promise to his fellow producers to producing high-quality soy, Arkansas in Arkansas. In February 2022, the United has also cultivated generations of highSoybean Board will convene in Little quality leaders who have carried on Rock, with the Arkansas soybean industry the greatest traditions of agriculture, taking the spotlight in the center of the persevered through the good and lean national stage. years, and helped “Being involved on the shape the industry “Soybeans are our state and national soy we know today. state’s largest row checkoff boards for 25 One of the most crop, with half of each years, I’m delighted to recognizable faces have Arkansas as the year’s harvest being among the current host state for United exported and the other generation is Jim Soybean Board’s Carroll III, Brinkley half being processed February 2022 board farmer and United into oil or soy meal...” meeting. It affords Soybean Board an opportunity for and Arkansas our state soybean Soybean Promotion Board Past Chair. leaders to interact with national leaders, Those who know Carroll, know he is who are all involved in stewarding passionate about the soybean industry. farmers’ checkoff investments to build More specifically, he is passionate about demand for U.S. soy,” Carroll said. “This the “Arkansas” soybean industry. It is meeting will provide a unique forum the pride and confidence Carroll has for for education and relationship building his state and neighbors that makes him that will strengthen our soybean such a unique leader and advocate for leadership overall.” Arkansas soybean producers. During his Carroll added, “After the pandemic term serving as United Soybean Board prevented the chance to host USB’s (USB) Chair in 2020, one of Carroll’s board meeting in Arkansas last year, priorities was bringing the 78 farmerI look forward to our national leaders leaders serving on the USB to Arkansas to witness for themselves the innovative coming to Little Rock and having an work being done in Arkansas by his peers. opportunity to meet our state soybean board leaders. I understand the sacrifice Until then, Arkansas has rarely had an opportunity to bring the full attention of it takes to be away from the farm, but this will be an invaluable chance to the board into focus. ARKANSAS GROWN 51

make new friends, share ideas, and move the business of soy forward.” Bringing USB to Arkansas holds a great deal of intrinsic value for the soybean and ag industry. Farmer-leaders from across the country will congregate in the Natural State and have the opportunity to observe the uniquely innovative collaborations local producers have fostered with their counterparts in the poultry and livestock sectors. “Soybeans are our state’s largest row crop, with half of each year’s harvest being exported and the other half being processed into oil or soy meal for our state's commercial poultry businesses,” Carroll said. “Our state’s soybean farmers walk hand-in-hand with our poultry producers, making sustainability full circle by growing the soybean feed and using their chicken litter – one nourishing our animals and the other nourishing our crops, which provides tremendous value.” Carroll continued, “Thanks to our state’s commercial poultry businesses, Arkansas ranks fourth in the nation in soybean consumption, so the importance of soybean production to Arkansas cannot be overstated. Animal agriculture consumed 1.75 million tons of soybean meal in 2014 and contributes $15.98 billion to Arkansas’s economy. The business of agriculture is vital to our state and soybean production is an essential component that connects it to our nation and the world.” Learn more about the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board at



Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Addressing Mental Health in the Agriculture Sector The room was quiet, and every head nodded in compassion and understanding. The topic of suicide risk among agriculture workers was raised during our “Managing Farm Stress and Pursuing Wellness” training with a group of women from across Arkansas, and they all knew. They knew someone who had died, a story in their community, or someone whose death had impacted them directly. As they left with their squishy red “stress barn” and a workbook, the women gathered in small groups around the room to chat before moving to the next session. A woman from the session asked for another copy of the materials. She said, “I’m going to put this in the cab of my husband’s tractor. I think he’ll read it there.” Farm families understand the expected daily and seasonal stressors of ag production and the bigger, less predictable stressors that led to the conversations that day. Chronic stress, substance use and abuse, and suicide risk among agriculture workers are subjects often discussed in whispers after a community suffers a loss or in a larger context by journalists and researchers. Despite the importance of mental health issues, the willingness to discuss it within families or in public conversations has only recently become more accepted.

The 2014 Farm Bill introduced language creating the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. The purpose of the Network is the improvement of health literacy and access to services related to mental and behavioral health for those engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculturerelated occupations. Funding for the program was included in the 2018 Farm Bill and was distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) in grants to establish four regional projects creating the national Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allocated additional funds to each state department of agriculture to support activities related to FRSAN. The Southern Region Network is administered through the University of Tennessee Extension and includes partners from 13 states in the southern U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and dozens of industry, governmental, and educational organizations that serve producers and other rural residents. Each regional project is allocated $7.2 million over four years. The Southern Region project includes several specific initiatives that will be coordinated with the goal of creating


cohesive strategies for the dissemination of resources, networking of producers across the region, and improved access to mental and behavioral health services.

health and stress management to ensure that funds will not be used for duplicate programs or initiatives and will support the larger goals within the region.

The strategies designed to meet these needs include:

To gain insight from farmers, ranchers, and others in Arkansas agriculture, Cooperative Extension launched a needs assessment related to current and future stress management and mental health resources. The needs assessment will help guide the Farm Stress Management and Resilience Project to ensure that clients receive the resources they need to improve their mental health and boost resilience within rural communities.

● establishing a hotline for crisis support services ● developing a comprehensive website with region-specific information and resources ● creating training resources for partner organizations and institutions ● training for representatives working within rural communities to support individuals through direct service and support groups, and ● research into the ongoing issue of chronic stress in rural communities. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service is developing the Farm Stress Management and Resilience Project to equip county extension agents, producers, and farm families on ways to cope with stress positively, build a culture of safety and health in rural communities, and connect clients to mental health and wellness resources in their area. These efforts include building a team to conduct Mental Health First Aid training statewide for both adults and youth, specifically targeting rural communities and agriculture workers, creating opportunities for networking among producers and their families, and creating online courses for stress management. The institutions within the southern region met to coordinate their states’ plans to support efforts related to mental

When discussing asset protection, farm safety, and resource management for farmers and ranchers, conversations tend to focus on physical assets such as land and machinery. The important asset of human safety is often overlooked. Farmers are self-reliant and hardy, but those qualities can become liabilities. Chronic stress can lead to many detrimental outcomes such as declining mental health, depression, and suicide. Warning signs of these issues can also lead to injury, long-term health conditions, and deterioration of physical and mental health. Signs such as increased substance use including prescription drugs, increased stress within relationships, irritability, or withdrawal, inability to sleep, increased anxiety or worry, or stomach or chest pains can all indicate chronic stress. When stressed, farmers can become distracted which can increase risk of injury or accident. Investment in improving mental health has far-reaching benefits. Stronger individuals create stronger families and more efficient operations. Those lead to stronger, more prosperous communities. Stronger, more resilient communities


support stronger, more resilient families which raise stronger, more resilient children who continue the cycle of prosperity for the next generation. The strength and self-sufficiency of farm people is exactly what is needed to create the support system necessary to improve mental health across the state, the region, and the nation with the goal of sustaining agriculture and rural communities for generations to come. By Brittney Schrick University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Chronic Stress Warning Signs • Increased substance use including prescription drugs • Increased stress within relationships, irritability, or withdrawal • Inability to sleep • Increased anxiety or worry, or stomach or chest pains


Arkansas Funded Projects The Arkansas Department of Agriculture awarded Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network grants to Arkansas PBS, Agri Health Network, and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture to expand or sustain stress assistance programs for individuals engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations. “Agriculture is an inherently stressful occupation that often requires individuals to work long hours and navigate through numerous factors that are beyond their control. Recipients of this grant funding are providing critically important services to the individuals that provide the food, fiber, fuel, and shelter that we all depend on every single day and that will help keep our state’s largest industry successful into the future,” said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

Arkansas PBS Arkansas PBS will use the funding to develop programs on mental health challenges faced by agricultural producers for on-air broadcast and on-demand, website, social media, and app viewing. A monthly podcast will be made available at no cost to more than 120 radio stations across the state. More information about the programs can be found at

Agri Health Network The grant funding provided to the Agri Health Network will expand the reach of its That Farm Life podcast launched in March 2021 to provide a platform for those in the agricultural industry to share stories, resources, and create a safe zone where mental health issues specific to agriculture are addressed. Funding will also be used to host informational and educational events for agricultural industry participants. More information can be found at AgriHealth. net and That Farm Life podcast is available on all podcast apps or through their website. UA System Division of Agriculture The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will use the grant funding to train 16 Mental Health First Aid trainers and create a website and virtual offerings for producers to engage with mental health experts and other producers remotely to learn and support healthy stress management. Contact Dr. Brittney Schrick, for more information. The grants are administered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network – State Departments of Agriculture Program (FRSAN-SDA).


Attack from Above The American Black Vulture is Protected, But Has it Become a Nuisance? Dark birds circling the skies, standing in the road, and sitting on fence lines. We have all seen vultures in their natural habitat – cleaning up roadkill or other unsavory sights. While not a fairy tale, they do play a necessary part in the circle of life. However, there are two species in Arkansas, with one proving detrimental to livestock producers. The American black vulture (Coragyps atratus) is known by multiple names in Arkansas, with the black-headed buzzard being the most common. These birds typically measure between 22 and 29 inches in length and have a wingspan of five feet. While most vultures take advantage of deceased animals for meals, the black vulture is more opportunistic. Black vultures have also proven to be bolder and have attacked lambs, piglets, calves, and their respective mothers. Livestock producers have reported the vultures attacking and killing their animals, most typically while giving birth. A 2017 USDA report on cattle and calf losses reported that black vultures were responsible for 10 percent of all calves lost to predators in the United States. Black vultures can also afflict property damage in both rural and urban areas. Large groups of vultures can physically damage homes and commercial buildings by removing window caulking, roof shingles, pool covers, ARKANSAS GROWN 58

and more. The birds’ excretions can also damage communication towers and electrical transmission structures. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimated in 2018 that there were around 9.45 million black-headed vultures in the United States. This number was much larger than previously thought, due in part to their protected status under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MTBA). This status means that permits must be acquired before killing the birds. Depredation permits are available online through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to their website, these permits are short-term relief until long-term nonlethal measures can be utilized. Nonlethal measures fit into four categories: harassment, habitat management, cultural practices, and policies. Harassment includes loud noises, pyrotechnics, scarecrows, and trained dogs. Habitat management includes grass management, vegetative barriers, fencing, and netting. Cultural practices include seasonal timing and landscape placement. Policies can include a nofeeding policy. These nonlethal measures are encouraged to disperse or discourage the vultures from utilizing areas where they could pose threats to livestock. However, they are not always effective or long-lasting.

Producers can then apply for depredation permits allowing them to “take” the birds. The permits are $50 for an individual producer and $100 for a business. Arkansas Farm Bureau received a depredation permit for black vulture “takes” where these predators are depredating on livestock. Livestock producers may apply for a depredation sub-permit at no cost. After receiving the permit, producers must report the number of vultures harvested and dispose of them properly. In most states permittees are authorized to take migratory birds only with a shotgun no larger than 10-gauge; however, in Arkansas, usage of a rifle is authorized. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) along with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) stand prepared to help those affected by black vultures. Vulture management can be complicated and site-specific, so consulting with a wildlife professional can be beneficial to successfully resolving the conflict.

Livestock producers experiencing severe depredation from black vultures are encouraged to apply for an individual migratory bird depredation permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Producers cannot be issued a depredation permit by USFWS and an Arkansas Farm Bureau depredation sub-permit. While progress has been made in making the permitting process more transparent and straightforward, the depredation continues throughout the state. Black vultures are proving to be a continued nuisance to both rural and urban populations causing property damage and significant losses to young, healthy livestock. Detailed information on the Arkansas Farm Bureau depredation sub-permit for livestock producers is available at arkansas-agriculture/commodity-regulatoryaffairs/black-vulture-depredationpermitting-process/. USFW assistance is available by calling (501) 835-2318.




HUNTERS AND FISHERMEN You can help protect Arkansas’s forests by preventing the movement of INVASIVE SPECIES CLEAN YOUR BOOTS AND EQUIPMENT before and after you go somewhere new. Seeds and other invasive plants parts can latch onto your boots and equipment and later be dispersed into new environments. CLEAN AND CHECK YOUR VEHICLE for potential hitchhikers. Some invasive insects will lay their eggs on any flat surface! Decontaminate boats before moving to a new waterway to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic plants. DON’T MOVE FIREWOOD! Tree-killing insects and diseases can live in logs for months after they’re cut down. Collect or buy firewood on-site whenever possible and burn completely before you leave. REPORT SUSPECT INVASIVES to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture or the USDA. If you think you recognize these pests, email a photo to or call (501) 225-1598.

Gypsy Moth

Spotted Lanternfly

Emerald Ash Borer

Asian LongHorned Beetle

Thousand Cankers Disease

FORESTRY Forest Management, Emergency Services, Poison Springs State Forest

Arkansas produces �mber valued at

MORE THAN $400 MILLION ANNUALLY Arkansas has nearly 19 Million acres of forests, with over

44 MILLION TONS of forestry-related products and �mber produced annually


#6 Arkansas is nationally ranked #6 in forestry products valued at OVER $6.4 BILLION



volunteer firefighters trained

total volunteer firefighters across the state


Firewise communi�es in Arkansas

787 WILDFIRES burned over 14,439 acres

The Forestry Division aerially surveyed nearly 16 Million acres for insect, disease, or storm damage; over

88,000 damaged acres found

More than 55% of the en�re land mass of the State of Arkansas is forested

Trucks and equipment valued at $6 MILLION distributed to rural fire departments



TREE CITIES impac�ng more than 969,000 Arkansas residents

landowner assists (suppor�ng forest management plans and general forestry needs)



Information provided by the Forestry Division 2021 INFOGRAPHIC PROVIDED BY THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Visit for more information.

Led by cattlemen, for cattlemen.


Legislation  Education Advocacy  Development


Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association Resources 310 Executive Ct., Little Rock, Arkansas 72205 501.224.2114  FI Economy Economy

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Resources Benefit

(501) 374-2441

us: 501-374-2441 The Arkansas Forestry Association advocates for Economy the sustainable use and sound stewardship of Arkansas’s forests and related resources to benefit all Arkansans, today and in the future.

The Arkansas Forestry Association advocates for the m | Project The Learning Tree |Forestry Landowner Education | Hunting Lease Arkansas sustainable use and sound Insurance | Log A Load For Kids Association advocates for the Benefit stewardship of Arkansas’ sustainable use and sound forests and related resources Benefit Environment stewardship of Arkansas’ to benefit the state’s forestry forests and related resources Call us: 501-374-2441 tewardship community and all Arkansans, to benefit the state’s forestry


Conservation Districts are committed to locally led cooperative conservation to promote productive soils, clean abundant water, healthy plant and animal communities, clean air, and efficient usage of water and energy. Conservation District offices are located in every county to provide technical and financial assistance for conservation in partnership with universities as well as state, local and federal agencies. They help landowners, farmers and ranchers develop conservation activity plans and provide advice on the design and management of recommended conservation practices. Please contact us with the information below on how to get started with water quality, soil health, irrigation, wildlife habitat, pesticide risks, and sustainability by using the contact information below.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact (501) 904-5575 or visit us at


The Magic of a School Garden Students Love Learning in the Garden

“Are these really peas? How did this get so big? Can I take some spinach home?" exclaimed students who were participating in a garden lesson at Retta Brown ABC preschool. Retta Brown ABC is one of more than 300 schools, child care centers, and alternative learning environments in Arkansas that have gardens. Across the state, students are learning in all types of gardens. Some are in greenhouses, raised beds, or containers, while others are inside in a windowsill or sprouting under grow lights. The common thread is youth and hands-on education. School gardens are natural classrooms that provide hands-on learning opportunities for nutrition, agriculture, and experiential education across all disciplines. Gardens help students develop healthy eating habits and discover how food grows. Studies show that when kids are involved in growing food, they are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables and more willing to try different kinds.

(USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which aims to increase production of specialty crops, like vegetables and fruits, in school gardens. Through the Grant Program, 35 schools, 13 child care centers, and four alternative learning environments were each awarded a $500 grant, totaling $26,000, to start or expand their school garden. Students in 23 counties were impacted by these grants, and Retta Brown ABC was one. Another recipient of the grant was John Tyson Elementary School. In the hallways of the school you could hear students whispering when they saw a teacher taking students out to the garden, “"LUUUUUCKY! I LOVE learning in the garden." It wasn’t just students taking note, but teachers also shared what an incredible opportunity for learning the garden provides.

Another benefit of a garden is that it offers a greater understanding of the local food system. In a garden, fruits, vegetables, herbs, chickens, bees, and flowers teach However, the reality for many K-12 schools and child care centers is that a school garden students about Arkansas agriculture and how food gets to our plate. is something outside their budget. Often, the money needed to build a garden is more At the Farm at North Little Rock Middle than schools can afford. School, another Grant Program recipient, In November 2020, the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program (Grant Program) was established to help schools start or expand gardens on school grounds. The Grant Program was the first of its kind in Arkansas and was developed by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's

the very best problem emerged when students were in the garden. Because so many kids discovered they liked kale, they ate it faster than it could be harvested, weighed, and processed.

“I love having this kind of a problem,” shared a teacher at the school. ARKANSAS GROWN 67

A garden also builds upon the knowledge gained in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies classes. One student at Marion Math Science Technology Magnet School, a Grant Program recipient, shared that one of their favorite parts of the garden is when they get to read in their flower circles. The student announced that “the flowers listen to me when I read!” At Marion Math Science Technology Magnet School, the garden was also used to teach about the Trail of Tears. The class incorporated an Indigenous planting method called the Three Sisters, and a teacher shared that “one of the high points was the connection with the social studies class where the students discovered their personal connections with Native Americans, not only in Arkansas but across the country.” In addition to pairing with Arkansas state standards, gardens give students and teachers a space for relaxation and decompression. "It's a good way to teach people how to handle growth, and it is therapeutic for those that might be having a hard day. The garden is a resource to think and process while enjoying a hands-on project for all,” said a student at Cabot Freshman Academy, another recipient of the Grant Program. Furthermore, students are inspired by their school garden and want to build one at their home. One student at Nettleton STEAM, another Grant Program recipient, went home one day and declared, "I want to build my own above-ground bed just like at school. Mom, let's go buy the supplies this weekend." Her mom shared a picture of the student in the garden with the biggest smile on her face. A garden builds character, teaches patience, and equips students with tangible skills that can be used in their future. At Arkansas Consolidated High School, most of the students had never been exposed to gardening. Receiving funds as part of the Grant Program allowed students to use the new skills they gained by starting gardens at their house. They especially enjoyed the herbs they could grow inside. All in all, school gardens impact more than just the students; they ripple out to the whole community. Join in the farm to school movement by starting your own school garden, teaching youth about agriculture, and eating delicious Arkansas grown food.


CONGRATULATIONS! 2021 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest Winners Best Start-Up School Garden Proposal Quitman Elementary School, Quitman Blevins High School, Blevins Best Community Collaboration School Garden Ozark Junior High School, Ozark Retta Brown ABC, El Dorado Best Harvest Partnership School Garden The Delta School, Wilson First Friends Preschool, Rogers Best Education Based School Garden Ouachita Elementary School, Donaldson Sheridan Elementary School, Sheridan Best Overall School Garden Cedarville Elementary School, Cedarville Champion of School Garden Sustainability Forest Park Elementary School, Little Rock

The annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest is sponsored by Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. The contest started in 2014 to promote the importance of involving young people in the process of fresh food production and cultivation. The contest was available to public and private K-12 schools, early care and education facilities, and alternative learning environments. Awardees were schools that had a school garden during the 2020-2021 school year or planned to start a garden in 2021-2022 school year. Program details are available at:

Local Food is More Important Than Ever The Pandemic Highlights the Need For Easy Access to Local Food During the first two weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, online searches for “local food” doubled nationally. Over the following 12 months, searches for “local food” in Arkansas consistently ranked high. As we experienced uncertainty in our traditional food system, Arkansas farmers came through for us. Resourceful, innovative, and dedicated, our farmers adapted their operations to meet the unexpected demand created by supply chain interruptions. Newcomers to the local food scene discovered the enhanced flavors and the increased nutritional value of products produced and grown locally. The farms growing produce and raising meat for our tables are as diverse as they are numerous. From independent farmers who spend their days at local farmers markets to larger operations that supply local restaurants, sell to retail stores, and ship across the country to national grocery chains, Arkansas farmers work diligently to produce high-quality food. Arkansas is renowned for its commodity crops, but we are also gaining recognition for our farm-to-table agriculture. Our state is home to colorful and unique dining experiences. The increased attention to the nutritional benefits of locally grown and produced food during the pandemic highlighted this treasure. As specialty crop farmers and ranchers pivoted and struggled to meet demand, more establishments promoted the value of locally grown and produced cuisine. Expanded interest in Arkansas Grown and Made food is not limited to consumers dining at restaurants and shopping at markets. Schools and institutions are also increasing their local food purchases. The Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act (Local Food Act) was enacted in 2017 to create, strengthen, and expand local farm and food economies throughout the state. In 2019, the Local Food Act was amended to require institutions that receive $25,000 a year or more from the state and offer a food service program to report annually on their local food procurement. The Local Food Act requires these institutions to set a goal of at least 20% of the institution’s purchases of food products to be spent on local food, and it requires institutions to provide information on their local food procurement budget. The Local Food Act is making a difference. Food budgets spent on local food by these institutions increased from eight percent in 2017 to 20 percent in 2021 with a significant jump between 2020 and 2021. In addition ARKANSAS GROWN 70

to meeting the requirements of the Local Food Act, institutions reported that higher-quality products, increased health benefits for consumers, demand from consumers, and spurring economic development in the community and state, were important decisionmaking factors. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) partners with the Office of Community Health and Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to prepare the annual reports and analyze the data reported. One of the challenges revealed in the reporting is finding locally grown and produced products. To address this obstacle, the Department’s Arkansas Grown program launched a new website connecting our farmers and producers with schools and institutions interested in purchasing locally grown and produced food – the first website of this kind. The website is a multi-site platform housing the Arkansas Farm to School website alongside the Arkansas Grown website, creating a convenient transition between sites and streamlining the process. Farmers and producers interested in local procurement can easily search for schools and institutions. A “Local Procurement” map on the website enables schools and institutions to quickly locate farmers and producers. In addition to being user-friendly for consumers, the newly launched website enables distributors to search for local food and connect with farmers and producers. Farmers and producers can join this network for free and create a customized profile showcasing their products and stories with photos and videos. The website will list farmers and producers in the network and include them on interactive maps. Connecting schools and institutions with farmers and producers within the state boosts local economic development. Educating consumers about the value of eating healthy, local food increases community awareness of Arkansas farming and food systems. The Local Food Act is a “farm to institution” policy, which aims to increase the purchase of locally grown and processed food in institutions' foodservice programs across Arkansas and encourages the support of Arkansas farmers. For more information on the Local Food, Farms, and Job Act can be found at arkansas-department-of-agriculture-programs/thelocal-food-farms-and-jobs-act/.



Farming on a Different Scale Voluntary Programs Help Improve the Quality of Aquaculture Industry in Arkansas Whether you picture agriculture as raising The Arkansas Department of Agriculture livestock, growing forests, or planting row (Department) not only tests fish for reportable crops, Arkansas farms are a key element of diseases and parasites but also inspects our landscape and economy. There are over aquaculture ponds for aquatic nuisance 40,000 farms in the state, but there is a species. These two testing protocols form specialized niche of 70 or so farms centered the basis for a voluntary baitfish certification near Lonoke and Prairie program that opens up counties that is all about “The aquaculture industry markets throughout raising fish. Aquatic the U.S. and around is economically and farm animals, as they the world. Aquaculture biologically important to are technically referred farmers submit fish the State of Arkansas...” to, can be raised for specimens representing bait, food, or sport, and each species to be collectively this practice falls shipped in one of two seasonal surges: under aquaculture. March – May and September – November. In the spring inspection season of 2021, According to the 2018 U.S. Department of the Department’s aquaculture laboratory Agriculture (USDA) Census of Aquaculture, in Little Rock processed almost 10,000 fish Arkansas leads the nation in both baitfish from 45 farms. Other essential aspects of at $22.1 million and sport fish at $13.7 this program involve stringent biosecurity million production. Food fish production in requirements for each participating Arkansas was $29.5 million. Regardless of farm detailing continuity of inspections, category, aquaculture involves some form of quarantines, and water sourcing. intervention in the rearing process, such as seeding, stocking, feeding, and protection The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from predators. (AGFC) also supports aquaculture by issuing permits allowing farm owners to physically Most of our farmed fish are shipped live house listed species on their premises. to markets outside of Arkansas and will The benefit to farmers is that the AGFC ultimately end up in ponds, lakes, or rivers then compiles this information to market for recreational fishing. Other states and Arkansas-raised fish to dealers, distributors, countries can be very particular about the 3rd-party haulers, and bait shops. An risk of imported fish bringing along nuisance additional benefit is that fish farmers can species, parasites, or microorganisms that be more closely involved with the formal can adversely impact their native species. process of crafting aquaculture regulations. Some diseases are so serious that they are According to Kelly Winningham, a Fisheries designated as “reportable”, which means that Pathologist with AGFC, "The aquaculture state and federal authorities must be notified industry is economically and biologically if these diseases are detected by lab testing important to the State of Arkansas and and authorities may issue a stop order to AGFC. The industry rears quality sport fish, quarantine the farms. ARKANSAS GROWN 73


food fish, and baitfish species that are certified free of disease and aquatic nuisance species. Certified baitfish purchased by anglers is essential in helping prevent the introduction and spread of disease and aquatic nuisance species to the natural resources of Arkansas."

fish sold for outdoor recreation. Since COVID-19, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission has seen an increase in the number of fishing licenses issued, and with early retirements and alternative work schedules, the last two “COVID-19” years have seen record sales of recreational fish."

Aquaculture has changed over the last several years. Many people naturally assume that aquaculture in Arkansas is synonymous with catfish due to the pioneering work done with catfish production in the state in the early 1960s, Keo Fish Farm’s Mike Freeze notes, “Acreage devoted to catfish farming has decreased from a high of some 35,000 acres to less than 5,000 acres currently. Alternative food fish species (tilapia), foreign competition, and high feed prices are contributing factors.” But, farmers are resilient, and according to Drew Mitchell, Executive Director of the Catfish Farmers of Arkansas, “We have some of the most progressive and innovative catfish farmers in the nation. Arkansas fish farmers produce most of the catfish sold for recreational ponds nationwide.” Arkansas catfish production is consistently ranked within the top three catfish-producing states by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Service.

Raising aquatic livestock, whether for food or recreation, may be a lesser-known cousin of other livestock, poultry, and row crop production, but it shares long days and year-round work. Many of these long days are spent in waders in ponds that sometimes freeze like other livestock ponds. As Berto Chavez, seining crew chief at GentryCanterberry Fish Farm near Lonoke, told a recent visitor, “I’ve had to break through ice to seine fish. The only day we don’t work is when FedEx isn’t running.” Financing can be another point of concern for aquaculture producers. More than one aquaculture farmer contrasted a livestock or rowcrop farmer’s ability to show animals or crops to a banker, whereas their livestock lives beneath the water’s surface.

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted Arkansas’s aquaculture industry. According to Freeze, “COVID-19 has been a double-edged sword. It has cut the demand for farm-raised fish sold to restaurants, but it has increased the demand for

So, there’s more to aquaculture than meets the eye. Arkansas’s abundant natural resources, balanced regulations developed with input from stakeholders, careful monitoring for wellness, and permitting of animal movement join together with hard work, resiliency, and ingenuity of our farmers to consistently satisfy a national demand for farmed baitfish, sport fish, and food fish.



Arkansas Grown Meats Meat Processing Grant Program Steers Needed Funds Into Arkansas As Arkansans tried to source more locally capacity. Capps expects to almost double his grown and processed meat in 2020 when current production rate in 2022. the COVID-19 pandemic caused food Capps said, “The grant program helps supply chain disruptions, it quickly became bridge the gap between producers and apparent that Arkansas needed additional consumers. It provides producers more meat and poultry processing capacity. To avenues to market their livestock, and it address that need, the Arkansas Department allows consumers to buy meat that is raised of Agriculture (Department) worked with locally, providing that peace of mind that industry partners to create the Arkansas comes with knowing where it came from. It Meat Processing also creates an efficiency Grant Program. “The expansion of the meats that we haven’t seen in With $10.4 million my lifetime in southwest program at Arkansas State provided for the Arkansas. We aren’t program by the will provide our students selling cattle to an Arkansas CARES Act and community with out- of-state feedlot, Steering Committee valuable career training...” processing it in another and the Arkansas state, and buying it from Legislative Council, a grocery store that isn’t locally owned. We the Department awarded grants up to are doing all of that right here at home.” $500,000 to 31 facilities across the state in October 2020. Arkansas State University College of Colton Capps, owner of JACO Meats in Hope, was one of the 31 grant recipients. Capps had witnessed the growing demand in his area for locally processed meat even before the pandemic and considered expanding his operation, but the cost of construction and processing equipment made it costprohibitive. “Once we heard about the grant, we knew it was our chance to make the expansion possible,” said Capps. Capps used the grant funding for the construction of a new building, refrigeration equipment, and additional meat processing equipment. The facility received its federal grant of inspection from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in August and has tripled its weekly processing

Agriculture (ASU) received funding through the grant program to upgrade its current meat processing facility, known as the A-State Meats Lab, and expand teaching and research opportunities. Dr. David Newman, associate professor of animal science at ASU, oversees the meats lab project and works with USDA to achieve federal inspection for the renovated lab. In addition to giving the lab the ability to sell USDA-inspected meat into interstate commerce, a USDA grant of inspection will give students the opportunity to work with USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors and receive crucial and relevant on-the-job training. ASU believes the renovated lab and the expanded programs offered will attract ARKANSAS GROWN 77

new students to the Animal Science program and also provide educational opportunities for the community. Dr. Newman said, “The expansion of the meats program at Arkansas State will provide our students and community with valuable career training, educational seminars, and the availability to purchase fresh directly from campus.” Damon and Jana Helton, owners of The Farm at Barefoot Bend and Central Arkansas Meat Processing, used their grant to purchase the state’s first Mobile Harvest Unit (MHU). The Heltons produce cattle, hogs, and poultry on their farm and have experienced the processing backlog firsthand. “Having meat to sell is how we pay the bills. Not being able to get finished animals into the butcher really put a financial strain on our farming operation,” said Damon Helton. “The state’s Meat and Poultry Processing Grant was a unique opportunity to develop a Mobile Harvest Unit to help address the processing backlog, reduce the loading and transporting stress on animals, and reduce transportation costs for producers.”

“We are in the middle of a local food renaissance and demand for local food is through the roof.” The MHU has received a Conditional Grant of Inspection from USDA and will be able to process cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats. Initial capacity is estimated at 15 head of beef, 20-25 hogs, and 25-30 sheep and goats per day. The Heltons also plan to establish a “brick and mortar” facility for the fabrication and packaging of the finished meat products. “We are in the middle of a local food renaissance and demand for local food is through the roof,” said Helton. “Jana and I are honored to be part of helping consumers 'know their farmer, know their food'."



Learning Life Skills on the Farm Investing in Agriculture Means Inmates Learn New Skills While the Arkansas Department of Corrections may not have the largest farm in the state, Davey Farabough, farm administrator for the Department of Corrections, is confident it has one of the most diverse. Row crops, produce, dairy cattle, laying hens, beef cattle, horses, and timber are spread across more than 20,000 acres at nine different farm locations throughout the state. The continuous effort to provide low-cost and nutritious food to inmates while teaching them agricultural skills plays an invaluable role in preparing individuals to re-enter society and saving the state tax dollars. “It’s hard work, and most of them want to be out there doing it,” said Farabough. “Being a part of our unit farms means they are moving closer to going back into society. They are learning a trade, a skill, a labor… and they take pride in it. For example, a lot of the men work for us in the laying houses that are part of our poultry operation. They’re assigned a house to care for and they really take ownership of it. It’s theirs to manage, to care for, to play a role in the success of it. So, they are fully invested and they have a sense of pride about it.” Farabough also explained the importance of providing the products grown and raised by the inmates back to them for consumption. Dieticians with the Department of Corrections plan meals for consumption and work alongside the agriculture units to decide what needs to be planted and grown. Much of the row crops are grains such as rice, corn, soybeans, oats, and wheat. Many of the vegetables grown for consumption, including squash, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, and radishes, are planted multiple times throughout the year. Eggs and milk are processed by inmates, and all finished products are consumed in the units. Beef cattle are sold through Superior Livestock Auction and the money is used to purchase ground beef for inmates. In addition to providing food for inmates, the Arkansas Department of Corrections farm produces feed for livestock on the farm. An onsite feed mill and grain bins store corn and oats for cattle raised on the farm and the horses utilized throughout the farming operation. Their partnership with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture also helps with the improvement of the operations ARKANSAS GROWN 80

and advancement of research in agriculture, all of which affect the farm’s bottom dollar. “We operate this farm just like any other farm in the state of Arkansas,” said Farabough. “We only spend what we make, but what sets us apart is that we’re so diverse. If we suffer a hailstorm that wipes out a corn crop, we can chop it for silage and feed it to cows without a total loss.” The horse herd at the farm enables the safe implementation of labor and teaches inmates trade skills like farrier work. Teaching inmates to drive tractors and grain trucks helps with harvest while preparing them for future careers. Each aspect of the agriculture units provides the opportunity for improved production, advancements in agriculture research, and the success of the inmates. “We have a strong success rate with inmates learning a work ethic through our program and then getting jobs,” said Farabough. “A lot of people don’t realize the farm is here and that it operates as a public service. Everything we produce here goes back into the units to help offset the cost and to relieve the burden on the taxpayers of Arkansas. And we do it all while working with these inmates and investing in them.”



Arkansas State University

Jonesboro | (870) 972-2100

Arkansas Tech University Russellville | (844) 804-2628

Southern Arkansas University Magnolia | (870) 235-4000

University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Fayetteville | (479) 575-2000

University of Arkansas at Monticello Monticello | (870) 460-1026

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Pine Bluff | (870) 575-8000 _fisheries_and_human_sciences.aspx


NATURAL RESOURCES Conservation, Water Resources Development, and Water Resources Management

Water Planning

Funded 6 Unpaved Road Program projects totaling $396,475




Provided technical training and support on flood risk reduc�on and mi�ga�on to 1,700 community officials represen�ng 425 towns, ci�es, and coun�es

Floodplain management

technical assistance provided to 44 projects associated with the abatement/ reduc�on or control of nonpoint source pollutants

Partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey and USDA Natural Resources Conserva�on Service

Monitored Arkansas aquifers, taking measurements at

1,200 WELLS

Provided $150,000 in boun�es for 16,933 beaver tails across 55 districts

917 nutrient

management plans developed and provided $713 Million to hire Nutrient Management Technicians

Processed and approved 16 new riparian zone tax credit projects with $835,500 in eligible project costs

63 community water-related projects worth more than $154 MILLION

Managed the ongoing deployment of $5,000,000 in flood mi�ga�on projects, providing support to communi�es ravaged by the 2019 Arkansas River flood

Information Provided by Natural Resources Division 2021 INFOGRAPHIC PROVIDED BY THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Visit for more information.


Saving Vital Resources Conserving Arkansas's Groundwater and Agricultural Production In the 1980s, a report issued by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, now the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division, called attention to the rapidly shrinking groundwater resources in the Grand Prairie area of Arkansas. Two important irrigation and water management projects in eastern Arkansas are closer to achieving the goals of preserving Arkansas’s groundwater while also reducing flood damage and conserving wildlife habitat.

The Grand Prairie of Arkansas is an agriculturally significant area in Arkansas, Prairie, Lonoke, and Monroe counties between the White River and Arkansas River. The area is the cornerstone of Arkansas’s rice industry that consistently produces more than 50 percent of the nation’s rice. The Grand Prairie also produces a wide range of other crops, including soybeans and corn, and is the home of two of the state’s largest farmerowned cooperatives, Riceland Foods and Producers Rice Mill.

The Grand Prairie Project and the Bayou The resulting plan for the area includes Meto Water Project were initiated decades numerous on-farm conservation and ago for groundwater protection and conservation purposes, incorporating water winter waterfowl improvement measures quality, waterfowl management, recreation, with an emphasis on conversion from groundwater to surface water use. The plan and environmental protection/restoration includes on-farm reservoirs and tailwater measures. The projects share similar recovery systems, irrigation purposes but differ in pipelines to save water some ways to meet the “There is a critical during transport, and other unique needs of the need for these conservation measures project area, geography, irrigation projects.” to meet about 50 percent and local preferences. of the water need. The The progress of both the remaining 50 percent is Grand Prairie and Bayou to be met with the Grand Prairie Project Meto projects has been possible because which involves the import of excess water of devoted partners at the local, state, and via a pump station on the White River, federal levels. a network of new canals, pipelines, and Grand Prairie Project associated channel structures, on-farm In 1991, Congress authorized the U.S. features, and environmental restoration Army Corps of Engineers to develop and enhancement measures. the Grand Prairie Area Demonstration The improvement plan is currently being Project by working with local, state, and implemented by a partnership involving federal partners to develop an optimal the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s improvement plan to offer water security Natural Resources Conservation Service while supporting agricultural, municipal, (USDA NRCS), the Arkansas Department of and commercial water uses. ARKANSAS GROWN 85

Agriculture, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the White River Irrigation District. Other partners include the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. To date, more than $200 million has been invested in the project. The project has provided a pump station and pipelines that will carry the water from the river to a completed irrigation-regulating reservoir that sits almost 100 feet higher than the river. Water from the reservoir will gravity flow through a network of new canals and pipelines to more than 250,000 acres of irrigated cropland. The water will flow west from DeValls Bluff to Carlisle, then Southeast to Slovak, Stuttgart, and as far south as DeWitt. A crucial step toward delivering affordable surface water to the first 40,000 acres of the 250,000 acres of irrigated crop land took place in early 2021 with the start of canal construction. Funded through grants provided through USDA NRCS and committed loans from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, construction started in 2021 on the first two miles of the canal. An additional ten miles of canal construction is planned for 2022. Future phases of this project are designed in increments of 30,000 to 40,000 acres over the next five years. Construction will continue with a new segment starting each year, funding permitting, until all 250,000 acres are receiving water.

Bayou Meto Project The Bayou Meto Project was authorized by Congress in 1996 to provide flood control, wildlife habitat, and surface water irrigation benefits to approximately 300,000 acres in Lonoke, Prairie, Jefferson, and Arkansas counties. Row crop farming of soybeans, rice, cotton, corn, and other crops is the primary driver of the economy in the Bayou Meto Project area and is dependent upon irrigation water availability and good drainage. The approved plan for the Bayou Meto Project includes pumping excess Arkansas River water into a series of canals, bayous, and pipelines to approximately 268,000 acres of irrigated farmland to support commodity production. A pumping station in the lower portion of the project area will


remove excess water from the lower project area, including the 33,000-acre Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area, a premier winter duck habitat. Preventing water retention during the growing season of high-quality bottomland hardwood trees will help preserve valuable wildlife habitat. Partners in the project include the Bayou Meto Water Management District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the USDA NRCS, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Approximately $167 million has been invested in the project to date, resulting in the construction of two pumping stations, a regulating reservoir, several miles of canal, and a bridge.

“These projects will balance the use and supply of existing surface and groundwater...” A recent grant from the USDA NRCS is financing the next phase of the construction. Work is expected to start in early 2022 and will include completion of the main canal to reach the Indian Bayou, removal of obstructions from the bayou, and construction of pipeline networks to reach farms. Pending available funding, the project is estimated to begin delivering water to farms within the next three to five years. Mike Sullivan, the Arkansas State Conservationist for the USDA NRCS, has been instrumental in the recent progress on both projects. “There is a critical need for these irrigation projects due to declining levels in the Alluvial and Sparta aquifers that are used for agricultural irrigation, municipal, and industrial water,” Sullivan said. “These projects will balance the use and supply of existing surface and groundwater resources so agricultural production can continue sustainably into the future.”


Sporting the Jacket – Green and Blue FFA & 4-H Students Break New Ground As two young girls grew up in the agriculture-based state of Arkansas, they learned the power of community and how to find their way in a big world. Sara Gardner and Anna Mathis, through involvement in FFA and 4-H, have found ways to impact the upcoming youth with the same passion for agriculture. FFA and 4-H enjoy statewide support, with 4-H being in all 75 counties and FFA having over 14,000 members across the state.

Sara Gardner Sara Gardner is a junior at the University of Arkansas (UA) pursuing a double major in Agricultural Economics and International Economics with minors in Ag Leadership, International Development, and Spanish. Her passion for international economic development was established through a onemonth service-learning trip to Mozambique. She served as State 4-H President, was inducted into the Arkansas 4-H Hall of Fame, and now serves on the National 4-H Young Alumni Advisory Board. Gardner has been volunteering for veterans for 12 years and was the recipient of the National Disabled American Veterans Youth Volunteer of the Year Award. On campus, Gardner is serving her second term as Associated Student Government’s Director of Veterans Affairs and is a National Ag Futures of America Scholar. Gardner is an officer of Collegiate Farm Bureau, Delta Delta Delta, and the Student Alumni Association.

In 2021, she interned in the White House Office of Political Affairs. She is employed part time as a Communications Specialist at the National Agricultural Law Center and plans to attend law school after completing her degrees.


Anna Mathis Anna Mathis grew up in the small town of Valley Springs, Arkansas. She is a student at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville double majoring in Agricultural Communications and Agricultural Leadership. Mathis has long term aspirations of being involved in the intersection of rural engagement and agricultural policy, while amplifying the stories of farmers and ranchers along the way. During her first year as a Razorback, Anna served as the State FFA President where she set strategic vision and was a voice for student success through agriculture and agricultural education. Anna took a leave of absence from UA while serving as the National FFA Secretary. In this role she informed, motivated, and inspired 760,000+ FFA members, along with advisors, state staff and teachers, while forming relationships with corporate sponsors and state and national legislators.


In the Business of YOU. As one of the nation’s leading agriculture lenders, we help farmers achieve their financial goals by getting to know their business and customizing plans for their success. And we can do the same for you. Our business is helping you succeed. Which is why when folks ask us what business we’re in, we tell them – we’re in the business of YOU.


SHARED SERVICES Fiscal, Human Resources, Marketing, Information Technology, Legal, Laboratory Services, Law Enforcement, Trade and Economics

Fiscal managed a combined opera�ng budget of more than $208 MILLION


received in fines and suppression reimbursements


law enforcement cases resolved

158 law enforcement assists performed

Assisted Department’s boards and commissions in promulga�ng

9 rules

$608,645 Restitution returned to Arkansas land owners

Human Resources filled 142 open posi�ons across all divisions Marke�ng issued 74 press releases, and promoted 14 state proclama�ons

Coordinated 14 farm loan media�ons, with 10 resul�ng in successful resolu�ons


vendor invoices processed


in Federal Grant aid payments processed


in Federal Grant aid reimbursements requested

Information Provided by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture 2021 INFOGRAPHIC PROVIDED BY THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Visit for more information.

SASDA: An Authentic Success SASDA 2021 Conference Made Possible Through Generous Sponsors While the agriculture industry certainly looks different across the United States, all 50 states and four territories have a department of agriculture with the same basic purpose – to protect, promote, and support the state’s agriculture industry. These departments work together through the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, better known as NASDA. NASDA, founded in 1916, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association that represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances American agriculture through policy, partnerships, and public engagement. NASDA is governed by a ten-member Board of Directors consisting of a five-member Executive Committee, one At-Large member, and the presidents of the four NASDA regions. Executive Committee members are the officers of the association and serve a five-year term. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward was elected secretarytreasurer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) for 2021-22 at their annual conference in September. “It’s a great honor to be elected as secretary-treasurer of NASDA,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “I am proud to represent Arkansas within the organization and look forward to supporting our nation’s states and territories in promoting our diverse agriculture industry.” Secretary Ward served as the 2020-2021 President of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA), one of the four NASDA regions, and chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee. SASDA strives to improve American agriculture through the development and promotion of sound public policy and agriculture-related businesses and programs and to communicate the vital economic importance of agriculture. SASDA includes members from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia.


As part of Secretary Ward’s term as the SASDA President, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture hosted the 2021 Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) Conference in June. The conference included updates and discussions on a range of issues, policies, and programs important to agriculture. Governor Asa Hutchinson and members of Arkansas’s congressional delegation, including Senator John Boozman, Congressman Rick Crawford, Representative French Hill, and Representative Bruce Westerman, were able to join SASDA members and provided updates on a range of issues and policies important to agriculture. Harrison Pittman with the National Agricultural Law Center provided an overview of the latest agricultural and food law issues. The 2021 SASDA conference would not have been possible without the generous contributions from sponsors. The conference’s theme was “Authentic Arkansas,” and from the rice fields of the Arkansas delta to the top of Petit Jean Mountain, attendees enjoyed several excursions that demonstrated why agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry. The outpouring of support throughout the whole state demonstrated to guests what true Arkansas hospitality looks like. “Serving as the 2020-2021 President of SASDA and hosting the 2021 SASDA meeting, in-person in Little Rock, was an honor,” said Secretary Ward. “We are incredibly proud of the agriculture industry here in our state and look forward to the many ways that Arkansas will continue to contribute to American agriculture through SASDA and NASDA in the coming years.” At the close of the conference, Secretary Ward passed the SASDA president's gavel on to Commissioner Kent Leonhardt of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. SASDA and NASDA are great resources for state departments of agriculture and provide additional ways for producers to have their voices heard at the regional and national levels. “Partnerships have always been important in agriculture, and I’ve seen firsthand the impact that working with our counterparts across the county can have in addressing issues and finding effective solutions for the industry,” said Ward. ARKANSAS GROWN 93

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture was honored to host the 2021 Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) annual meeting in Little Rock. The 2021 SASDA agenda incorporated many of the unique and authentic features of Arkansas that make it such a wonderful place to live, work, and visit. Attendees enjoyed scenic views from atop Pinnacle Mountain, a trip to the Delta rice fields, Arkansas pecans, black apples, tomatoes, a private concert from Arkansas’s very own Buddy Jewel, and discussions with key Arkansas state and national government officials. This showcase of Authentic Arkansas was possible through the generous support of the 2021 SASDA sponsors! Thank you for your support of Arkansas and Arkansas agriculture!

Diamond Sponsors

Revolution Simmons Bank Southern Crop Production Association


Riceland Foods, Inc. Tyson Foods, Inc.


Airbox Arkansas Farm Bureau Elanco Animal Health Inc. Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas Merck Animal Health Rollins, Inc. U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Agricultural Council of Arkansas American Farmland Trust American Pecans Anthony Timberlands Arrow Exterminators Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. CoBank Delta Peanut

Silver (Cont.)

Little Rock Port Authority Mi-Corporation National Industrial Hemp Council Petit Jean Meats Potlatch Deltic Ralston Family Farms USA Rice Weyerhaeuser


ADM American Seed Trade Association Arkansas Bait and Ornamental Fish Growers Association Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association Arkansas Forestry Association Arkansas Pork Producers Arkansas Timber Producers Association Catfish Farmers of Arkansas Catfish Pro Delta Solar Ducks Unlimited Green Bay Packaging Greenway Equipment, Inc. Hiland Dairy Foods

Bronze (Cont.)

Hormel Foods Corporation Hot Springs Natural House of Webster Kingwood Forestry Services, Inc. Mountaire Corporation Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture Natural State Rabbit Nestle Purina Producers Rice Mill, Inc. Ray Dillon Ritter Agribusiness The Ross Foundation Skippy Brand Peanut Butter Southern Cotton Ginners Association Southern Extension Risk Management Education Texas Peanuts Soybean Promotion Board Wilson Brothers Lumber WinWam Software

Friends of Agriculture

Arkansas Department of Agriculture Arkansas PBS Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Arkansas Rice Federation Arkansas Secretary of State Caddo Trading Company Cavender’s Central Arkansas Resource Conservation & Development Council Dan’s Whetstone Epstein Gin Fayette County Farm Bureau FieldWatch First Financial Bank Halo Branded Solutions Honeyton Farms KYYA Chocolate Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort Post Winery Pradco Outdoor Brands Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce Who Dat’s Cajun Restaurant Winthrop Rockefeller Intitute

Agribusiness Options for Arkansas Youth New Business Academy Opens in Lonoke County In the United States, it takes an average of four to six years to complete a baccalaureate program. Going straight into college is not always the best option for some students, and many can benefit from obtaining a certification degree in high school to enter the workforce. Business leaders in Lonoke County realized the need for a technical school in the area and the opportunities it would provide to students and the region. On October 25, 2021, the new Lonoke Business Academy was dedicated and officially opened its doors. Students can participate in five hands-on programs of study designed to prepare them to enter the workforce in skill-based careers. Elizabeth Anderson is a Lonoke School Board member who served as chair of the local school millage campaign and capital campaign that raised $12.5 million for the Lonoke Business Academy. “Lonoke County, with its agriculture-based economy, is an ideal location for a school to focus on preparing students for careers in the area. Statistics show that only 30 percent of students in Lonoke County go to college, and of that 30 percent, only 50 percent finish with a degree. So why not provide them an opportunity within their high school education that better prepares them for a career and a lifelong partnership with their community?” said Anderson. The Lonoke Business Academy offers classes in healthcare, aquaculture, diesel technology, animal science, and industrial technology. The Lonoke School District partnered with Arkansas State University-Beebe (ASU-Beebe) and Baptist Health on the development of the 30,000 square foot facility that serves as an ASUBeebe regional career center location and is connected to a 12,000 square foot Baptist Health Family Clinic. The health clinic will serve as a family clinic for the community as well as a school-based clinic. The clinic will support the medical professions program of study ARKANSAS GROWN 96

by providing real-world applications for students interested in healthcare careers. Farmers and agribusinesses in the region have been supportive of the new academy and are excited about the positive impact it will have on heir industry. Farmers will participate in teaching the agricultural courses, thanks to a waiver the Lonoke School District was able to obtain. Donations have included grants for a diesel engine simulator and virtual reality headsets for students to access the state-of-the-art technology and curriculum. Students can earn a certificate of proficiency, or in some instances, a technical certificate by the time they graduate high school. In the patient care tech program, students will be ready to sit for a national board licensure examination after completion of the program. After completing programs at the academy, students are prepared to go straight into the workforce or continue their education. Seventy-five students are currently enrolled at the Lonoke Business Academy. Enrollment is expected to increase as the news spreads about the school. “Our opportunities are endless as long as we can offer the instructors and classes to meet the demand,” said Anderson. “Right now, the cost for students is free. Lonoke Public Schools had enough reserve to support the students enrolled,” said Anderson. “As enrollment increases, the program cost will be passed to the students at a very reduced rate compared to collegiate cost.” Governor Hutchinson attended the dedication of the Lonoke Business Academy and stated, “It’s all about providing options for our young people. Young people want a career that they enjoy and that brings value and dignity to their lives. This center will give young people the option to find their passion and work they enjoy, and if they have that, they will enter the workforce and remain in the workforce.” More information about the Lonoke Business Academy can be found at


Strides in Efficiency Improving Irrigation Practices in the Natural State The University of Arkansas Irrigation Water Management group, led by Dr. Chris Henry, Russ Parker, Travis Clark, and Casey Sieber, is helping Arkansas farmers improve their irrigation practices while maintaining crop yields and improving farm profitability.

A yield check measured on three acres is used to determine which participants have the best water use efficiency, i.e., the “most crop per drop” of rain and irrigation. Over $68,000 in prizes are awarded to nine winners annually.

The Irrigation Water Management group created a new program in 2018, the Arkansas Irrigation Yield Contest: Most Crop Per Drop. Developed as a novel way to promote and encourage experimentation with irrigation water management practices by Arkansas farmers, there have been over 150 entries in the contest since it started. It is the only irrigation contest of its kind in existence.

All contest participants are provided a report card so they can assess their irrigation management acumen, which is a useful feedback mechanism for farmers. For those participating each year, the report cards are providing historical performance data that enables producers to see their improvement from year to year.

Participants acquire a portable flow meter for a 30 acre field of corn, rice, or soybeans. Installation is verified and sealed to prevent tampering. For no cost, participants can borrow soil moisture monitoring units and surge valves and use factsheets or a variety of mobile apps available from the University of Arkansas program. Every participant has used Computerized Hole Selection in the contest to date, but they can also use any other technology available. County Agents and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) irrigation technicians serve as advisors for the contestants. In addition to irrigation efficiency, participants also must achieve a minimum yield, which is set relatively high. Achieving yield (and profitability) while effectively managing irrigation makes the contest challenging and rewarding.


“The yields, water use efficiency, and extremely low irrigation depths the participants have been able to achieve over the last four years is nothing short of amazing,” said Dr. Chris Henry, Associate Professor and Water Management Engineer. Financial support for the contest is provided by the Corn and Grain Sorghum Promotion Board, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, Arkansas Natural Resource Conservation Service, Ricetec, Delta Plastics, McCrometer, Seametrics, Irrometer, Agsense, Trellis, and CropX. For more information or to enter the contest, see the “Irrigation Contest” link at for the entry form and contest rules.

POULTRY Arkansas’s largest sector of agriculture


Arkansas farms producing some type of poultry

Arkansas is the fourth


Arkansas ranks #3 nationally in the production of chicken broiler meat

producer of turkey meat


broilers raised and processed

Benton County is the number one poultry producing county in the state


individual tests conducted for avian influenza

Cultivating leadership in public policy since 1939.

GROW WITH US Agriculture is more than land and crops; it is Arkansas's economic foundation. We promote this industry and advocate for its future and our state's prosperity.



Ralston Rice in Demand Arkansas Family Farm Expands Into Chinese Markets While Robin and Tim Ralston were thrilled when their two adult daughters wanted to change careers in 2017 and join their parents and brother at the farm, they knew changes would be necessary for the operation to support additional partners. Those changes led to the development of a vertically integrated, farm to fork, agricultural operation that provided the first rice from Arkansas to be exported to China in July 2021. The Ralston family has been farming for over ten generations, with the latest generation overseeing a diversified operation producing cattle, soybeans, and rice on 5,800 acres in the Arkansas River Valley near Atkins. Robin and Tim had been discussing the need for a value-added component for the farm, possibly a rice mill, for several years, but their daughters’ decisions to return to the farm accelerated their efforts. The Ralstons pitched their idea of growing and milling specialty rice on the farm to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and Ben E. Keith Company to help determine feasibility. After receiving a favorable response, they began working with Dr. Anna McClung, Director and Research Leader of the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center within the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, to gain insight on artisanal rice varieties. After much research, trial and error, construction of a state-of-the-art mill, mountains of paperwork, countless meetings, and a lot of prayers, Ralston Family Farms launched its unique offerings of specialty rice varieties in January of 2018. Robin Ralston said, “Had we known at the beginning exactly what was involved, I’m not sure we would have done it, but now that we are here, we are grateful to all that made it possible. We are humbled to be stewards of what we believe to be among the very best rice available while utilizing farming practices that protect our land, water, and fossil fuels.” Ralston Family Farms is vertically integrated, meaning they control their product from the seed placed in the ground to the package that is placed on the shelf. Because Ralston Family Farms only mills and packages rice they grow, they can offer customers 100 percent traceability, which sets them apart. This traceability is one of the primary reasons a private importer in China contacted them about selling the product in grocery stores in China.


Although China is the world’s largest producer, consumer, and importer of rice, it remained closed to U.S. rice imports until the U.S. and China signed a Phase 1 Economic and Trade Agreement in January 2020 that expanded the potential for access to China’s rice market. This trade agreement was the result of more than a decade of efforts by the U.S. rice industry to establish a two-way trading relationship with China. The first shipment of the Ralston's rice arrived in China in July 2021 and is being sold on the retail market under the Ralston Family Farm label. Retail demand in China for the products has been strong, and future shipments are in process. Exports to the United Kingdom are also being negotiated. Regarding their initial sale to China, Ralston said, “We are honored to know that the product we have devoted our lives to at Ralston Family Farms will be shared across the world. We hope it benefits the entire U.S. rice industry and is just the first of many sales of U.S. rice into China.” In the U.S., the brand is available in over 6,000 retail supermarkets. Rice grits, a new product from Ralston Family Farms, hit store shelves in 2021 and is proving to be popular. “Our family is committed to providing the very best products possible and we want the consumer to have confidence in our products from start to finish,” said Ralston. “Consumers can find a wealth of information about us, our farm, and our products, including recipes and cooking tips, at our website,”


Proactive and Prepared Strong Partnerships Help Protect Arkansas's Forests They are dramatic scenes that unfold on a yearly basis in the American West – colossal blazes engulf large expanses of land while firefighters make heroic efforts to save communities. For Arkansans, forest fires feel like a foreign experience as they are not what would be considered a pressing danger. Yet, with a large portion of the state covered by abundant forests, one might wonder why there are not large blazes in the forests of the Ouachita Mountains, the Ozarks, and the West Gulf Coastal Plains of Arkansas. “There are several reasons why Arkansas does not have the type of blazes that are seen in western states,” said State Forester Joe Fox, Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division Director. “These include climate, tree species composition, ecosystem, and cultural approach to forest fires.” An obvious difference between the South and the West is climate. Arkansas is in an area of high humidity, which is in stark contrast to the dryer climate of many western areas. Further, Arkansas has consistent yearly precipitation while many western states have longer dry seasons, making them more susceptible to drought. The wind speeds in the western states are also higher, a significant contributor towards forest fires that can get out of control. There is also a unique shared culture of forest management in the South that takes a more proactive approach when it comes to the prevention of forest fires. This includes minimizing the conditions in which forest fires can occur, using techniques such as prescribed burns and thinning of wood products in forests. This shared culture of forest management is present in Arkansas as partnerships within the state that include a wide array of organizations. “In Arkansas, we have strong partnerships in the forestry community between public and private landowners, loggers, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and state and federal agencies,” said Fox. “All agree that the best prevention for wildfire is good forest management practices on the ground over the forested landscapes.” Yet, when a wildfire does break out, having experienced firefighting professionals is crucial in keeping fires contained and extinguished. Currently, Arkansas has over 200 firefighters trained at battling wildfires, many of them with experience battling larger blazes in western states. ARKANSAS GROWN 102

Mike Mowery, air operations branch director and county forester with the Forestry Division, is one of the many seasoned professionals in Arkansas, possessing over four decades of firefighting experience that includes assisting with blazes in several states. It was in Idaho that the Mountain View native cut his teeth, assisting with a blaze in the Salmon National Forest. As he found out during this campaign, there were numerous skills needed on a fire crew. When his team needed someone to manage radio dispatch at a helibase, Mowery jumped at the opportunity to add a skill to his wheelhouse.

“I realized the radio operator is probably one of the most important jobs...” “I had never been on a helibase before or worked radio communications,” said Mowery. “Now that I’ve gone through the system and managed it, I realized the radio operator is probably one of the most important jobs in fighting forest fires.” “As firefighters progress though their careers, new courses are required, which build upon the previous courses that were taken,” said Robert Murphy, emergency service director with the Forestry Division. “They also cater to different disciplines within the fire service, and whether it is operations, logistics, or planning, there are courses specifically designed to equip individuals with the tools necessary to be successful.” To say that Arkansas is immune to the large forest fires would be a misrepresentation of the situation. Though there are inherent advantages, Arkansas’s forestry community is taking the necessary steps in the prevention of wildfires while offering firefighters the training and resources that are crucial in staying vigilant against these types of blazes.


Busy People Get the Job Done Mid-South Farm & Gin Show Enters Its 70th Year It is widely understood that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. Sam E. Angel II is a busy person who gets a lot done. Raised to see the value in giving back, Angel lives by that belief and has seen others step up when things need to happen in his lifelong home of Lake Village. The Angel family has a deep-rooted heritage in the Delta. Family patriarch Sam Epstein arrived in the United States as an immigrant from Russia in the 1880s. Epstein opened a dry goods store on Main Street and began purchasing land, overcoming poverty, and becoming one of Chicot County's most respected citizens. Farmer and manager of Epstein Cotton Gin, Angel served on the Lake Village City Council and was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives for six years. Lake Village Fire Chief, Captain of the Chicot County Sheriff’s Reserve, Board Chairman of the Chicot County Memorial Medical Center, Board Member of Agricultural Council of Arkansas, former Arkansas Rural Development Commission chairman, and chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Board, Angel is now serving as the 2021 president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association (SCGA). Tim Price, Executive Director of the SCGA said, “Sammy embodies the best of several worlds; he has a great sense and appreciation of history, yet seeks out new ideas and innovations, understanding the critical need for technology adoption in a globally competitive world. Sammy has an in-depth knowledge of agriculture, while also understanding the broader world it operates in – from economics to politics, from being involved in the local community to the interconnectivity of global competition and customers. At SCGA, we had an ideal President for this last year, helping us deal with the COVID-19 challenges along with the tremendous pressures of supply-chain issues and changes in our industry.” The Southern Cotton Ginners Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1967. The mission of SCGA is to support and advance the educational, scientific, civic, commercial, and business interests of its members and allied industry associations and organizations. The Cotton Ginners Associations of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, assemble to create the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, representing well over 95 percent of the total number of cotton gins in the Mid-South region. ARKANSAS GROWN 104

The SCGA focuses on the safety of gin employees, research to enhance the quality of the product, and hosting the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show. The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, now in its 70th year, is a free indoor event that hosts approximately 400 exhibitors from over 30 states. Vendors and exhibitors from all niches of the agriculture industry showcase the latest innovations and technology in agriculture-related products and services. From displays of massive equipment to research on the tiniest seed, “The Gin Show” provides educational opportunities for anyone involved in or interested in agriculture. A spectacular non-profit event, attendees of “The Gin Show” travel from more than 15 countries to experience the weekend festivities. The longtime traditional show has adapted to COVID-19 challenges and now hosts both an inperson and virtual event accessible through the website and app. In 2019, Arkansas ranked fourth in the nation in upland cotton and cottonseed. Leadership in this vital commodity crop is crucial to the state's economy. Angel has a steadfast family history and an enthusiasm for innovation. His leadership in the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Arkansas agriculture benefits the entire industry. Information about the 70th Annual Mid-South Farm & Gin show is available at https://www.


Telling Their Story Farmers Find Success with Marketing in a Changing Marketplace Here in the dawn of the 21st Century, the agriculture industry is witnessing an unprecedented integration of technological advancements that have given rise to the boom in Precision Agriculture. In recent years, the ag industry has pioneered the application of drone technology, data collection and analysis, and electronic identification to achieve streamlined logistical efficiency in the world’s safest food supply chain. While the agriculture industry has come a long way in the last 50 years, it feels at times that our communication efforts haven’t. The ag industry has been slow to recognize the importance of being a proactive participant in telling their unique story to consumers. This has created an uphill battle for the ag industry as it reacts to the ongoing spread of misinformation and distrust in the market. As an industry and as individuals, it’s more important than ever for farmers to have a voice in the agriculture business story. More organizations in the industry are starting to realize how their business challenges can be effectively met with the right communications and marketing strategy. The Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Program (ABWEP) is a great example of that success. Two years ago, the organization had no digital presence at all and conducted business in much the same way it did in 1997 – until ABWEP Executive Director Regina Coleman had a lightbulb moment that has since enhanced the Arkansas cotton industry. Today, ABWEP has modern branding, a state-of-the-art website complete with reliable online business tools for growers, consistently active social media channels, and a custom e-newsletter that function in concert with a strategic communications plan custom-created to give the Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Program an authoritative voice in the market. ABWEP relied on a collaborative partnership with their communications agency to build a strategic communications plan that gave the organization presence and credibility in the evolving agriculture narrative. In a matter of months, ABWEP has undergone a transformation from being virtually invisible to establishing a position of leadership among its sister organizations across the Cotton Belt. Other organizations in the state such as the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and Arkansas Corn & Sorghum Board have also benefitted from having a clear voice with their stakeholders. ARKANSAS GROWN 106

Proactively telling their story requires a strategic communications and marketing plan. Carson Horn, APR, is the farm-raised director of public relations and the resident ag industry expert at The Communications Group, a Little Rock-based marketing and public relations firm specializing in agriculture and manufacturing. Horn says the root of a company’s success lies not just in the quality of its product or service, but is linked closely with its ability to build a marketing strategy that helps the company define its voice and protect its brand in an increasingly crowded marketplace. “There are two ways for people to learn about your business – from someone else or from you. You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, or if they have incorrect information they’ve gotten from someone else, you’ll constantly be challenged to find sales success,” Horn remarked. “All too often, people make the mistake of fixating on the perceived cost of effective marketing and communication. Instead, marketing and strategic communications should be treated as an investment with the expectation of a return.” What many agribusinesses don’t realize, Horn says, is that marketing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In Horn’s experience, businesses often have the perception their marketing plans have to be complex and multifaceted in order to be successful. This notion can overwhelm businesses and marketing managers or deter them from exploring their options altogether. Horn suggests taking a more moderate approach in developing marketing plans that address specific challenges – and grow from there. “In many cases, clients discover that their goals can be achieved through less intensive and more costeffective means that ultimately reap all the reward but save them from making larger than necessary investments,” Horn said. “When we work with agriculture clients, our goal is to craft a plan that addresses their unique needs, and every ag client is different.”

of all sizes to commit to investing in an effective marketing plan that will help create, support, and grow share of market and share of voice. Effective marketing ensures sustainable longterm growth and success. To help agribusinesses make informed decisions about their marketing strategies, The Communications Group released an Ag Industry Insights report outlining the top marketing trends to consider in 2022. Horn concludes that while this report can certainly help determine some of your strategic priorities, a good marketing plan starts as it often does on the farm, with a tiny seed that eventually grows into something good for the world. To review The Communications Group’s complete 2022 Ag Industry Insights report, visit

The Communications Group’s Top Ag Industry Marketing Trends in 2022

1. Increased Customer Focus

2. Modernization

3. Data-based Decision Making

4. Visual Branding

5. Selective Audience Building

6. Intentional Communication

7. Multichannel Marketing

8. Content Consistency

9. Thought Leadership

10. Strategic Partnerships

Technology and trends continue to rapidly change. Whether it’s a large corporation or a small family farm, Horn advises businesses and organizations ARKANSAS GROWN 107

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MUNICATIONS GROUP Agriculture is different. We get that. We get it, because we are a part of it. The Communications because we are a part of it. The Communications Group has served ag industry clients for more than Group has served ag industry clients for more than 30 years with a dedicated Ag Marketing Team. Our 30 years with a dedicated Ag Marketing Team. Our Ag Marketing Team makes The Communications Ag Marketing Team makes The Communications Group unique. That uniqueness is our personal Group unique. That uniqueness is our personal backgrounds. The members of our ag team backgrounds. The members of our ag team represent multiple generations of ag families. represent multiple generations of ag families. From crops to cattle to poultry, some of us grew From crops to cattle to poultry, some of us grew up with farming. We know that farming is more up with farming. We know that farming is more than an ad…it’s a frame of mind and a lifestyle. than an ad…it’s a frame of mind and a lifestyle.

So, what line of work are you in? Poultry? Livestock? So, what line of work are you in? Poultry? Livestock? Industry Association? Equipment Manufacturing? Industry Association? Equipment Manufacturing? Commodities? We’re in the ag business. Commodities? We’re in the ag business.

|| Marketing Marketing || Communications Communications || Public Public Relations Relations || Advertising Advertising || Websites Websites || Social Social Media Media || Brand Brand Development Development + + Logos Logos || Creative Creative Development Development And And More! More!

No matter what your business needs are, The No matter what your business needs are, The Communications Group specializes in agriculture. Communications Group specializes in agriculture. Start a conversation today with our ag industry Start a conversation today with our ag industry experts to learn how The Communications Group experts to learn how The Communications Group can help you by visiting can help you by visiting

Visit for a FREE Visit for a FREE Website or Social Media Audit. Website or Social Media Audit.

Actual Communications Group employee boots after a day Actual Communications Group employee boots after a day of videotaping in a northeast Arkansas soybean field. of videotaping in a northeast Arkansas soybean field.

Simmons Arkansas State University

Advertising Directory

Arkansas Farm Bureau Simmons Bank FarmVoice The Poultry Federation Arkansas Corn & Grain Sorghum Board Arkansas Timber Producers Association Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C. Catfish Farmers of Arkansas Arkansas Women in Agriculture Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Arkansas Cattlemen's Association Arkansas Forestry Association Arkansas Beef Council Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts Heritage Agriculture of Arkansas First Financial Bank SASDA Agricultural Council of Arkansas The Communications Group Arkansas Peanut Growers Association Southern United States Trade Association Arkansas Rice Council


Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas

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