Drought Assistance from USDA Farm Service Agency
Livestock and hay producers impacted by drought should contact their USDA Farm Service Agency office to determine their eligibility for several livestock assistance programs, including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish; and emergency loans. 

If any portion of a county has been declared by the U.S. Drought Monitor as D3 (extreme drought level) during the normal grazing period, producers in the entire county become eligible for FSA assistance. Areas designated as D2 drought level for at least eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period also become eligible for assistance.
The USDA has designated 20 counties as primary natural disaster areas due to drought conditions and is gathering information that may result in additional counties being designated.  Producers in counties designated as primary natural disaster areas and those counties contiguous to primary counties are eligible for emergency loans from FSA.

Find your county FSA office here. More information about FSA disaster programs can be found here.
Scholarships Awarded to Arkansas Students Majoring in Agriculture
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently awarded $20,000 in scholarships to eight students attending Arkansas universities with agricultural programs. The universities include Arkansas State University, Southern Arkansas University, the University of Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University.

The scholarship recipients include the following students:

Arkansas State University
- Rachel Davis, Mammoth Spring, AR; Agriculture Business Major
- Magon James, DeWitt, AR; Animal Science Major
Arkansas Tech University
- Leon Fields, Russellville, AR; Agriculture Education Major
- Laney Moore, Danville, AR; Agriculture Education Major
Southern Arkansas University
- Jonathan Horton, Russellville, AR; Agribusiness Major
- Mallory Landreth, Taylor, AR; Poultry Science Major
University of Arkansas
- Gracie Hewat, Fayetteville, AR; Agriculture Education Major
- Anna Mathis, Harrison, AR; Agricultural Communications and Leadership Major
“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to provide funding to help these deserving students further their education and prepare for potential careers in agriculture, our state’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “It is an exciting time to be involved in the agricultural industry and we wish the scholarship recipients all the best as they consider the many career options available in agriculture,” said Ward.

Funding for the scholarships comes from civil penalties collected by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture utilized a committee to determine scholarship recipients.
Homegrown By Heroes Scholarship Offered for Agriculture Training
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are partnering to provide a $1,000 Homegrown by Heroes scholarship to military veterans and active military personnel to attend the Center for Arkansas Farm and Food’s Farm School, a comprehensive training program for new or beginning specialty crop producers. Funding for the scholarship is generously provided by Farm Credit. Applications are due September 1, 2022 and are available here.

The scholarships are affiliated with Homegrown By Heroes, an Arkansas Department of Agriculture program that helps farmer veterans market their local agricultural products by labeling them as veteran-produced. Learn more about Homegrown by Heroes and find products grown or made by military veterans here.

“We are proud to partner with Farm Credit to provide a scholarship for the men and women who have served our country in the military,” says Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward. “Military service members have many skills that make them great candidates for successful careers in agriculture. It is an honor to provide this scholarship as a way of thanking them for their service to our country.”

“The Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas appreciate the service Arkansas veterans and current military personnel give our country. We are pleased to help service members pursue careers in the agricultural field by sponsoring these scholarships,” said Brandon Haberer, CEO and president of Farm Credit of Western Arkansas.

The Center for Arkansas Farms and Food’s Farm School is an 11-month program at the Milo Shult Ag Research and Extension Center on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. The Farm School combines hands-on specialty crop farming with classes in production, business, and legal issues through classroom instruction and hands-on field activities. This comprehensive approach is specifically designed for beginning farmers of fruit, vegetable, flowers, and herbs who are interested in selling to local and regional markets. The 2023 program starts in January, with classes and farm work scheduled for approximately 20 hours per week, Monday through Thursday. The total cost of the program is $2,500. More information about the Farm School can be found at LearnToFarm.org.

Selection of scholarship recipients will be based on career goals, goals for farm/ranch, experience, and financial need. Preference will be given to Arkansas Homegrown By Heroes members, but membership is not required.
Applications for Wildland Fire Suppression Kits Accepted Through September 30
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is now accepting applications for Wildland Fire Suppression Kits through September 30, 2022. The application can be found here.

The Forestry Division received $293,600 through a U.S. Forest Service grant to provide 89 kits this year to rural volunteer fire departments across the state. Nearly 600 kits have been distributed since 2014.

Volunteer fire departments are the Forestry Division’s primary partner in wildfire response and suppression. The kits will provide these departments with specialized equipment needed for safe suppression, including up to ten wildfire-resistant coveralls, ten pairs of wildland gloves, two backpack leaf blowers, two collapsible backpack water pumps, six leaf rakes, and two McLeod rakes.

Rural volunteer fire departments interested in applying should apply online here. Paper applications are available upon request. Applications are scored according to specific criteria to include the population of the fire district, the number of square miles covered, the average number of wildfires a department responds to annually, and other factors.

The selected departments will be notified in October, and kits will be delivered in spring of 2023 or as soon as supplies are received.

Fire departments may contact Kathryn Mahan-Hooten at kathryn.mahan@agriculture.arkansas.gov or (501)679-3183 with questions. More information about the program can be found here.
Arkansas Programs Bring in Over $790,000 in USDA Farm to School Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding more than $10 million in Farm to School grants to 123 projects across the country. These grants increase the amount of locally produced foods served through child nutrition programs, while also educating children about how their foods are harvested and made.

Arkansas was the third-highest awarded state with a total of $796,593, coming only behind New York at $1.2 million and California at $813,978. The Arkansas grantees are:

  • Apple Seeds in Fayetteville plans to improve student access to locally grown produce and agricultural education by scaling the "Growing My Plate" program to reach students in 60 schools across Arkansas.
  • Carrol County Resource Council in Green Forest will collaborate with Jeremiah Recovery House and local volunteers to implement the Farm to School project envisioned by their 2020 Planning grant, serving low-income youth from diverse cultures in the Green Forest, Arkansas, school district as well as the nearby Berryville, Eureka Springs, and Alpena school districts.
  • Communities Unlimited, Inc., in collaboration with Healthy Flavors and Eat Real, will develop a blueprint and a stakeholder/collaboration map for strengthening farm to school programs in the Mid-South. The project will focus on rural districts in low-income communities in the Mississippi Delta Region of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
  • Dan-Harton Farms in Conway will evolve the perception, mindsets, and motivations of high school juniors and seniors regarding work in agriculture by involving them in the production of greens, from seed to sale.

Read more about the USDA Farm to School grants and their 2022 winners here.
Certified Arborist Training Scheduled for Aug. 25
The Arkansas Urban Forestry Council will offer an in-person training for anyone interested in becoming a certified arborist, or interested in receiving advanced arboriculture training.

Certified arborists often work for utility companies, golf courses, parks, universities, and landscape companies. Those already certified and seeking recertification can receive six continuing education units with the training.

The training will take place August 25 at the Washington County extension office in Fayetteville. Topics and presenters include:

  • Pruning – Krista Quinn, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
  • Tree Risk Assessment — Harold Fisher, Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division
  • Soil Science and Management — Colin Massey, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
  • Test Taking Strategies — Krissy Kimbro, Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division
  • Worker Safety (Safe Work Practices) — Jeremy Williams, Tree Climbers LLC
  • Diagnosis and Plant Disorders — Sherrie Smith, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
  • Tree Biology/Tree ID — Jennifer Ogle, University of Arkansas Department of Biological Sciences

Registration is $35 for members of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council and $60 for non-members. Those interested can register online here. Read more about the training here.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is Hiring!
Are you passionate about Arkansas agriculture? With many new and exciting career opportunities, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is looking for highly motivated individuals to bring their passion for the Arkansas agriculture industry to the workplace.

Visit arcareers.arkansas.gov or check out our Facebook pages for open positions in Shared Services, Forestry, Livestock and Poultry, Plant Industries, and Natural Resources!
2022 Arkansas Grown
Although most vultures take advantage of already deceased animals, the black American vulture has proven to be more opportunistic. Livestock producers in the U.S. have reported black vultures attacking and killing their animals, most typically while giving birth. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) stand prepared to help those affected by black vultures.

Read more about the threat black vultures pose and what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and APHIS are doing to manage the population in the 2022 edition of Arkansas Grown. You can view the magazine online here, or find a physical copy at various locations around the state.

The 2023 edition of Arkansas Grown is in the works! If you're interested in purchasing advertising space, please contact Amy Lyman at amy.lyman@agriculture.arkansas.gov.
Photo Features
The Arkansas Agriculture Board met this week and received updates from the U.S. National Weather Service - Little Rock on the current drought conditions across the state. Locally produced watermelon and catfish were provided by Johnson Brothers Watermelons, King Kat catering, U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, and Catfish Farmers of Arkansas to celebrate Arkansas Catfish Month and National Watermelon Day.
Secretary Ward addressed Vietnam Ag Ambassadors at the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) office. The ambassadors, here as part of the USDA Cochran Fellowship Program, visited several Arkansas farms and learned NASS processes.
Secretary Ward and other members of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture staff attended the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association Convention in Hot Springs. Pictured with the Department staff are Emily and Rob Sharkey, from the Shark Farmer podcast.
Secretary Ward (right) and District Forester Jeff Frizzell (left) attended the 2022 4-H O'Rama in Fayetteville. While there, Frizzell's daughter, Abby, (center) was recognized as a top scholarship recipient.
The Feral Hog Eradication Task Force held a meeting at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Updates were given on the NRCS/USDA Feral Swine Control Project, landowner surveys, and more.
The Arkansas Forestry Commission held a meeting at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Updates were given on current drought and wildfire conditions across the state.
The Colt fire department in St. Francis County received a 2008 Freightliner M916 from the Forestry Division’s Rural Fire Protection Program. Pictured are Forestry mechanic Jason McCuin, Assistant Fire Chief Frank Powell, and crew member Virgil Keeler.
The Saddle fire department in Fulton County received a 1992 Freightliner M915 from the Forestry Division’s Rural Fire Protection Program. Pictured are Fire Chief Charles Crowe and crew member Rick Groans.
New Resources, Trainings, & Opportunities
Applications Open for USDA Community Wildfire Defense Grant
Last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack launched a new $1 billion Community Wildfire Defense Grant program. This new, five-year program is designed to assist at-risk communities, including Tribal communities, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies, and Alaska Native corporations with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks.

There will be a series of webinars to provide potential applicants with an overview of the grant program. A webinar dedicated to Southern states will be held August 9 at 9 a.m. central time.

Learn more about the grant and eligibility requirements here.
Weed Technology to be Demonstrated at Northeast Arkansas Field Day
Researchers at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have been evaluating John Deere's See & Spray UltimateTM System. The system combines image recognition software and machine learning in an effort to improve weed management.

Division of Agriculture researchers are in the second year of testing for this system and will be showcasing their findings and the system itself on August 23 at the Northeast Research and Extension Center in Keiser. The field day opens at 9:30 a.m. with field tours going until 11:15 a.m. Those interested are asked to register in advance online. Read more about the field day and how to register here.
Sustainable Forestry & African American Land Retention Joint Regional Conference
The second annual Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Joint Regional Conference will be held virtually August 30-31. Attendees will learn about timely forestry and conservation topics and receive educational resources that can help solve heirs' property issues.

Guest speakers include U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) deputy assistant secretary for civil rights, USDA undersecretary for natural resources and environment, acting director for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Dr. Dionne Toombs, and more. Read more about the online conference and how to register here.
Managing Broad Mite in Blackberry
Researchers with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have seen a rise in broad mite populations in blackberry fields across the state. Because significant yield loss has been observed as a result of broad mites, it's important for growers to keep broad mite control in mind this summer.

A recent blog post from extension horticulture integrated pest management specialist, Aaron Cato outlines what broad mite damage looks like in blackberries, and steps growers can take to control populations. Find the blog post here.
USDA Updates
USDA Increasing Funding for Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency is increasing the amount of funding available for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program and expects to issue approximately $62.8 million in pandemic assistance payments to hog producers. The program assists eligible producers who sold hogs through a spot market sale from April 16, 2020 through September 1, 2020. Applications for this program closed on April 29, 2022.

Payments will be calculated by multiplying the number of head of eligible hogs, not to exceed 10,000 head, by the payment rate of $54 per head. Although the Farm Service Agency originally planned to apply a payment factor if calculated payments exceeded the previously allocated $50 million, payments are not expected to be factored due to the recent increase in funds. Read more about the changes here.
$200 Million Available for Specialty Crop Farmers from USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that up to $200 million dollars is now available to help pay for food safety and food certification programs. Specialty crop growers who incurred on-farm food safety expenses related to obtaining or renewing a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023 may be eligible.

The Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program (FSCSC) helps growers offset costs to comply with regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certifications. For each year, FSCSC will cover a percentage of the specialty crop operation's cost of obtaining or renewing their certification, as well as a percentage of related expenses.

Eligible growers must be a specialty crop operation and meet the definition of a small business or a very small business. Expenses that are not eligible for this program include infrastructure improvements, equipment, supplies, salaries and benefits, and fees or penalties for late payment. Applications can be submitted through January 31, 2023.

Read more about the program and its requirements here.
USDA Farm Service Agency 2022 Virtual Outreach Meetings
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA) has finalized their virtual outreach meetings for 2022. These virtual trainings serve as a way for USDA-FSA to get vital program information, such as deadlines, eligibility requirements, and more into the hands of producers.

Thursday, August 25, 10:00 - 11:00 A.M. – Conservation Reserve Program
Special Speaker: Shane Booth, District Forester, Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division. Find out how these programs work to address a large number of farming and ranching related conservation issues. Virtual meeting here.  For audio only call 202-650-0123 and enter code 980 012 680#.

Thursday, September 29, 10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. – Beginning Farmer and Heir Property Education
Special Speaker: Rusty Rumley, Senior Staff Attorney, U of A Division of Agriculture. Learn how to obtain a farm number and Heir Property documentation needed. Virtual meeting here. For audio only call 202-650-0123 and enter code 740 167 816#.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture's
Annual Report

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report provides information about the Department and how it served Arkansas agriculture, our state's largest industry, from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Click here to view the 2021 Annual Report.
Weekly Market Summary

Each Friday, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture publishes a comprehensive Weekly Market Summary, which includes the Arkansas Weekly Livestock Auction Summary and Related Individual Market Sale Summaries, National Weekly Rice Summary, Memphis Weekly Feed Report, Weekly Rice, Grain, Cotton, and Feed Futures Trends, Weekly Livestock and Milk Futures Trends, Bid Prices to Farmers, Arkansas Daily Grain Report, Heading Links for Historical Data, and news.

The summary is available on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Market Reports webpage, as well as each Division's webpage and Facebook page, and you may sign-up to receive the summary by email at Subscribe To Notifications And Publications.
Follow us on social media!

For the latest in Arkansas agriculture, be sure to follow us on social media! Links to our social media pages can be found here.
Arkansas AG Facts: National Farmers Market Week
  • The first week of August is recognized as National Farmers Market Week.
  • More than 112 known Arkansas farmers markets are important outlets for agricultural producers.
  • Access to healthy foods is a priority of the Healthy Active Arkansas Initiative to reduce obesity rates in the state of Arkansas, and through efforts of initiatives like these, Arkansas farmers markets have nearly doubled in the last decade.
  • More than 80% of Arkansas counties have at least one farmers market.
  • Direct-to-consumer sales in Arkansas from farmers markets and other direct marketing channels used by farmers is valued at more than $9.2 million.
  • The increased consumption of fresh, affordable products including vegetables, fruits, meats, cheese, eggs, jams, and jellies, and other farm products found at farmers markets improves the health and well-being of Arkansans.
Upcoming Agriculture Events
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