Promotional Opportunities for Arkansas Farmers Markets

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is pleased to partner with the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas for the sixth annual Arkansas Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Arkansas Farmers Market Bag Program. These programs, which are administered by the Department and funded by the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas, help build awareness for farmers markets and their vendors. Interest in locally grown and made products increased significantly during the pandemic, and these programs provide funding assistance for the state’s farmers markets to continue to serve their communities.

Arkansas Farmers Market Promotion Program

Farmers Market Promotion Grants may fund the following promotional items to build community and regional awareness for a specific farmers market: signage listing names, seasons, times of operation, and location details; local traditional advertising; and social media campaigns. In 2020, the Department provided over $7,500 in grants to 21 Arkansas farmers markets through the partnership with the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applications are due March 1, 2021. Applications and additional information can be found here.

Arkansas Farmers Market Bag Program

Reusable paper shopping bags are available for purchase by farmers markets or vendors at greatly reduced rates through the Arkansas Farmers Market Bag program. This service assists farmers markets and/or vendors in providing convenient shopping bags for their customers. More than 7,000 shopping bags were provided to Arkansas farmers markets in 2020. Additional information about how to order shopping bags can also be found here.
 Arkansas School Garden Grant Program Recipients Announced

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce that 52 schools across Arkansas have been approved for funding through the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program. Each of the schools will receive a $500 grant to be used for starting or expanding gardens on school grounds. 

“School gardens provide a hands-on opportunity for children to learn about Arkansas agriculture and where their food comes from. The lessons learned through school gardens have a lasting impact on children, their families, and entire communities,” said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.
Schools may use the funding to purchase soil, specialty crop seeds and plants, and gardening equipment. In addition to the funding, the Department’s Farm to School and Early Childhood Education program staff will provide technical assistance to schools upon request. Public and private K-12 schools, early care and education facilities, and alternative learning environments were eligible to apply for the funding.
“We look forward to working with the schools on their garden projects so many more Arkansas students can benefit from garden-based education,” said Sarah Lane, Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator.

Funding for the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program that was developed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.  

The complete list of schools is available here.
Arkansas Farm Talk with Governor Hutchinson and Secretary Wes Ward

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward made recent appearances on the television program Arkansas Farm Talk.

The Governor briefly discussed the effect the coronavirus has had on food services and farm operations. Host Mike Linton asked about the Issue 1 initiative and how it will impact market access for producers, the transformation of state government improving delivery services, and the eastern Arkansas irrigation projects. Watch here.

During a separate episode, Secretary Ward explained the Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing Grant program, the Voluntary Smoke Management program, the Abandoned Pesticides program, and the upcoming Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) conference in Arkansas. The Secretary also highlighted the Department's areas of focus during the 2021 Arkansas Legislative Session, which include feral hogs, abandoned pesticides, and updating services. Watch here.
Firewise Grant

The Compton Fire Department in Newton County received a $5,000 Firewise grant to help them serve several surrounding communities. Thank you Compton Fire Department for your hard work!

To find out more about the Arkansas Firewise USA program, visit:
Conservation Reserve Program General Signup
Begins January 4 and Ends February 12

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can sign up for the popular program beginning Jan. 4, 2021 through Feb. 12, 2021. The competitive program, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.

“This signup for the Conservation Reserve Program gives producers and landowners an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term,” FSA State Director David Curtis said. “This program encourages conservation on sensitive lands or low-yielding acres, which provides tremendous benefits for stewardship of our natural resources and wildlife.”

Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to their local region and the nation’s environment and economy. CRP general signup is held annually and is competitive; general signup includes increased opportunities for wildlife habitat enrollment through the State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.

New cropland offered in the program must have been planted for four out of six crop years from 2012 to 2017. Additionally, producers with land already enrolled but expiring on Sept. 30, 2021, can re-enroll this year. The acreage offered by producers and landowners is evaluated competitively; accepted offers will begin Oct. 1, 2021.
USDA Surveying Catfish Operations

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will survey catfish operations nationwide to provide an up-to-date measure of U.S. catfish inventories, sales, and water acreage used for production.

“NASS surveys catfish producers in January to create an accurate estimate of catfish inventories and sales in Arkansas and the Nation,” said Eugene Young, Director, NASS Delta Regional Office. In Arkansas, NASS will survey approximately 35 catfish farmers in January asking them to provide the total water area and inventory breakdown of its usage into subcategories (broodfish, food size, and fingerlings), as well as sales for 2020.

Producers are asked to use their unique survey code to complete the catfish survey online via NASS’ secure website. The online questionnaire is user-friendly, accessible on most electronic devices, and saves producers valuable time by calculating totals and automatically skipping questions that don’t apply to their operations. NASS also offers the option of responding via a telephone interview with a local NASDA representative or mail.

The Catfish Production report will be released on February 8, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. ET. This and all NASS reports are available online at For more information, call the NASS Delta Regional Office at (800) 327-2970. 
Beginning Farmer Classes

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Center for Arkansas Farms and Food is offering beginning farmer classes to learn the fundamentals of farming, networking opportunities with new farmers, and discovering available resources. Register for as many classes as you like. Each course is offered independently.

Classes in 2021 are virtual through Zoom unless otherwise indicated. Classes listed as location TBD will be on-farm with limited registrations if Covid restrictions allow.
For class information and tuition, visit here.
Arkansas Crop Production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has released the Arkansas Crop Production Report – 2020 Summary. The PDF version of the Arkansas Crop Production is available here

Arkansas Unpaved Roads Program Request for Applications

The Arkansas Unpaved Roads Program (AURP) is nearing the completion of the 2020 grant period. If you have problem areas, culvert washouts, or wet areas, let us help. The AURP can assist counties with up to $75,000 in funding, provided that the county can match the amount for which they are applying. The deadline for the 2021 grant cycle is March 1.

Contact Tony Ramick [email protected] (501) 682-3914 or Kevin McGaughey [email protected] (501) 682-3908 with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Division of Natural Resources to schedule your site visit. A site visit is required and will help in determining the best Environmentally Sensitive Practices for your location.
Value-Added Producer Grant

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeks applications for grants to help agricultural producers and small rural businesses develop and market new products.

Approximately $33 million in grants is available under the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. The Agency may also utilize any funding that becomes available through the enactment of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations.

The grants may be used to develop new products from raw agricultural products or to promote new markets for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.

Electronic applications must be submitted by March 16, 2021, to Paper applications must be submitted by March 22, 2021, to a USDA Rural Development State Office. For additional information, see the Federal Register and VAPG applicant resources.
The 2021 Nufarm Grassmanship Scholarship

The Nufarm Grassmanship Scholarship, offered by Nufarm Americas Inc. (Nufarm), was created to help individuals with a passion for agricultural or pasture management excel academically and civically. One $5,000 scholarship and four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to eligible applicants. Nufarm will select the scholarship recipients based on the overall strength of their application, application essays, and finalist interview. Not all applicants for the scholarships will be selected as recipients. Apply now through March 31 here.
Pet Food Recall: Potentially Fatal Levels of Aflatoxin

Please be advised that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a recall on certain lots of Sportmix pet food for potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is working in cooperation with the FDA regarding this recall, as some of the recalled lots of Sportmix pet food have been found in Arkansas. A link to the full recall notice can be found below:

The FDA also welcomes case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostic testing. These reports can be submitted electronically through the FDA Safety Reporting Portal (
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.
COVID-19 Resources

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has produced numerous shareable and printable COVID-19 resources. We invite and encourage the use of all resources which can be found on our COVID-19 Resource page, including:

Department COVID-19 resources can also be found on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Arkansas Ag Fact:
Top Arkansas Commodities
ranked nationally

  • #1 in rice
  • #2 in broilers
  • #3 in catifish
  • #4 in cottonlint
  • #4 in cotton seed
  • #5 in turkey
  • #7 in peanuts
  • #10 in beef cows
  • #11 in soybeans
  • #11 in eggs
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