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Why the Farm Bill is important to Arkansas


hile much of the attention during the Farm Bill debate was centered on farm subsidies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,)—both of which are Butch Calhoun important to Arkansas Agriculture thousands of Secretary Arkansas—the Farm Bill is much more than these two issues. It would surprise many who don’t live and breathe agriculture that this bill addresses a broad range of issues that play a tremendous role in the well-being of all Arkansans and our state’s economy. The Farm Bill, in its entirety, is arguably the most critical piece of federal legislation for Arkansas’s economy and its people. This bill provided major reforms to the commodity support programs and the nutrition program, saving taxpayers roughly $23 billion. Beyond these reforms, it is important to understand the full importance of the Farm Bill. It provides assistance for nearly all agricultural commodities, offers important investments for rural communities, and provides authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer a wide array of dayto-day services to farmers, agriculture businesses and the American consumer. As the Secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department, I would like to provide a summary of the Farm Bill and the benefits it provides for Arkansas. Commodity Title This provides assistance to farmers and ranchers for most agricultural commodities

when crop prices collapse or disaster situations occur. Direct payments were eliminated, which means farmers no longer receive automatic government payments. Farmers compete worldwide in a market often distorted by foreign governments. The U.S. safety net programs provide a more level playing field with global competitors and help keep our farmers and ranchers in business, thus maintaining a safe, abundant and affordable domestically produced food supply. Conservation Title This provides cost-share assistance to producers who reserve land for wildlife habitat and implement soil and water conservation practices. This maintains clean water and sustainable production for future generations. It also helps maintain Arkansas’s distinction as the Natural State with abundant wildlife habitat. Insurance Title This provides assistance to farmers when hit with natural disasters and other unforeseen events that would cause significant economic damage. Farmers must purchase all insurance policies. These safety net tools help farmers manage a variety of risks in a risky industry. Trade Title This provides funding to help promote U.S. agriculture products and develop global export markets. It also authorizes important food for peace initiatives, many of which use rice, soybeans, corn and other commodities grown in Arkansas. Nutrition Title This provides food assistance for lowincome individuals and families and school meals for children. SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program, helps not only hungry, low-income Americans, but also the agriculture and food processing industries, as it allows for food purchases that would not happen otherwise. It also

February/March 2014

helps transportation and retail businesses that deliver and sell these food products. This title is often misunderstood and misrepresented. I applaud Congress for keeping it viable, while addressing fraud and abuse issues. Credit Title This title provides affordable and accessible credit for farmers and rural businesses. It includes farm operations, housing, infrastructure development, and other farm and rural business needs. Arkansas banks and farm credit services use these programs to provide capital and financing for individuals and businesses in rural areas. Rural Development Title This provides funding for economic development projects in rural communities. Funding under this title goes toward rural broadband systems, rural housing, water and wastewater systems, and telemedicine. It also includes rural business and industry loans and grants that support small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) would not be able to do its work of supporting business enterprises and communities in Arkansas without this title. Research Title This provides funding for critical agriculture research in seed development, nutrition, conservation, marketing, best management practices, and other related agri and forestry production research needs, including animal and plant health. It also supports extension services from the University of Arkansas for farmers, ranchers, and rural families. This title supports research at various USDA Agriculture Research Service stations and University of Arkansas agriculture research facilities. This research keeps the U.S. on the cutting edge of agriculture production and maintains a strong and innovative agri sector.

See FARM BILL on back page

CALENDAR February 25 Program Committee 10 a.m. - AFA Office, Little Rock February 26 Tree Farm Committee 10 a.m. - AFA Office, Little Rock March 13-14 Arkansas Women in Agriculture Conference North Little Rock March 28 Nipper Family Tree Farm Tour 9 a.m. - Columbia County Register by calling (501) 374-2441 or send an email with your contact information to March 26 AFA Executive Committee 10 a.m. - AFA Office, Little Rock April 1 Arkansas Log A Load For Kids Campaign Kickoff 10:30 a.m. - Arkansas Children’s Hospital April 16 Communications Committee 10 a.m. - AFA Office, Little Rock April 23-26 Four-State Forestry on the Grow Conference Texarkana, TX May 1-2 AFA Board of Directors DeGray Lake Resort

New membership management system will provide enhanced benefits


o ehance its ability to serve members efficiently and effectively, AFA spent a good part of last year researching and evaluating a variety of membership management system software and webbased providers. The AFA Executive Committee voted in December to move forward with, an affordable webbased membership management system with excellent features and the highest level of online security. Over the last several weeks, the AFA staff has been meeting to evaluate the kinds of information and components we will build into the database and work will begin soon collecting and transferring information.

among other resources. There is much more the system will allow AFA to do, over time, to increase membership benefits and efficient use of staff resources. During the transition process, AFA wants to ensure that it has current contact information for all members. Please alert AFA of any changes to your company, mailing address, telephone number or email address. Please call (501) 374-2441 or email with updates. About

The new system will provide outstanding reporting capability, allow the association to invoice and track dues, coordinate event and conference registration, integrate communication tools including the AFA website and a members-only area that will offer an on-line membership directory,

More than 2,800 customers in over 30 countries with 20 million members around the globe.

Since its founding in 1998, has led the industry in providing innovative and integrated membership management solutions.

Its mission is to empower associations to create, engage, and grow while increasing their revenue and relevance.

Darling among Ag Hall of Fame inductees


he Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame will induct six individuals whose leadership and service have brought distinction to Arkansas agriculture, the state’s largest industry. The group will be honored at the 26th annual induction luncheon on Friday, March 7, in Little Rock. •

June 23-27 Teacher Conservation Tour Lake Point Conference Center Russellville September 23-25 69th AFA Annual Meeting Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa Hot Springs

O.H. “Doogie” Darling, 85, of Fordyce, retired forester of Georgia-Pacific Corporation. Darling has been revered as one of the most respected leaders in forestry for five decades. The former commissioner of the Arkansas Forestry Commission managed three million acres of Georgia-Pacific’s timberland at the peak of his career. Darling was one of the first pioneers of a landowner assistance program that provided scientific timber management advice and forestry services to southern Arkansas farmers struggling to make ends meet following the Depression and World War II. R. Marion Berry, 71, of Gillett, former presidential advisor to President William

H. Clinton and former member of the United States House of Representatives. •

Leroy Isbell, 89, of Humnoke, owner and operator of Isbell Farms. Isbell pioneered zero grading of rice fields that led to tremendous water savings and many other benefits for agriculture.

Ruben H. Johnson, 83, of Magazine, retired employee of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Johnson worked in a variety of capacities while in the Cooperative Extension Service, ultimately becoming its interim director

Keith Lusby, 65, of Prescott, retired professor and head of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Arkansas. Lusby was responsible for a major Animal Science Department renovation and building program where more than $10 million was raised.

J. Keith Smith, of Hot Springs, the late pioneer in the development of the broiler industry in south Arkansas.


From Magnolia, Ark. Go south on Arkansas Hwy 19 toward Minden, La. Just outside of Magnolia, the highway crosses a railroad at the Hixson Lumber Sales sawmill. Proceed south almost exactly 6 miles to 5221 AR Hwy 19 South on the left in a curve.


From Walkerville, Ark. Go north on Arkansas Hwy 19 toward Magnolia. 5221 AR 19 Hwy South will be on the right as you enter a curve about 5.5 miles north of Walkerville. 5221 Arkansas 19 South is located at 33.168660° -93.302991° and is painted blue. Turn east on the dirt road on the north side of the house and drive about 0.2 miles to the first dirt road on right, turn right. Drive south about 0.1 mile for parking directions. Any problems with locating site, call (318) 773-7158 or (870) 904-2263. Attire and weather Some walking will be required to view all areas of interest so comfortable footwear is suggested. All discussions will be outdoors. The event will be held rain or shine. Waiver All participants must sign a liability waiver.

Nipper Family Tree Farm Tour 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Columbia County

See firsthand how Arkansas 2013 Outstanding Tree Farmers Allen and Ginny Nipper manage their land for economic and environmental benefits during a Tree Farm tour. Contact AFA via email at or phone at (501) 374-2441 to register for the tour, which includes lunch. There is no cost to attend. Tour stops will address the following topics: • history of the property and the management plan • growth plots • disease • prescribed burning/weather • water sampling • fire lanes/boundary management • hunting leases • using a forestry consultant • oil and gas lease issues

Educators explore natural resources during TCT


he 2014 Teacher Conservation Tour (TCT), sponsored by the AFA Education Foundation (AFAEF), is scheduled for June 23-27 in Russellville. The focus of this fiveday workshop for classroom teachers and other educators is the environmental and economic benefits of Arkansas’s forestlands.   TCT provides participants with a lot of time in the woods, learning about the important role forests play in the environment and economy. Participants will tour forest product manufacturing facilities, see wildlife conservation efforts, and visit harvesting and replanting operations. Participants will also meet and learn from natural resource managers who are in the field. “This is not your typical classroom workshop,” said AFAEF Education Director

Rob Beadel. “Our days are long and packed full of activities.” TCT participants will earn 30 professional development hours, including 6 in Technology and 2 in Arkansas History.     Any formal or non-formal educator may apply for the tour. AFAEF covers all food, lodging and tour costs. A $100 registration fee is required.   TCT will be based at the Lake Point Conference Center near Russellville. Space is limited to 25 participants, selected on a first-come, first-served basis.    More information and a downloadable application form are available online at For more information, contact

Rob Beadel at (501) 374-2441 or rbeadel@

TCT participants get hands-on experience.

FARM BILL, cont. from front Forestry Title The bill provides funding for our forest service and timber industry, including firefighting funds and forest pest management. These funds are important for private landowners as well as the Ouachita and Ozark/St. Francis National Forests. Energy Title This title helps deliver electricity to rural communities and supports rural electric cooperatives. Many areas of Arkansas would be without electricity were it not for

the programs in this title. It also provides support for renewable fuels from bio-based sources and incentivizes farmers to invest in energy-efficient systems. Horticulture Title The title contains numerous provisions that help specialty crop producers of fruits, vegetables and other plants. Arkansas has a diverse horticulture industry, and leads other states in specialty crop production.

this law address imported catfish as well as other animal and plant health programs to ensure food safety. This title also provides disaster assistance for livestock producers through an indemnity program and a pilot program to help eradicate feral swine. Lastly, the miscellaneous title provides incentives for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmer and ranchers, which helps bring about new generations of food producers.

Miscellaneous Title The Livestock section supports food safety. The inspection services provided under

I hope you found this information helpful in understanding more about the Farm Bill and its importance to Arkansas.

February 2014 TreeTalk  
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