June 2020
Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Elected
President of SASDA

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward was elected President of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture for 2020-21 during its annual conference held virtually on June 1.

Arkansas will host SASDA’s annual conference in Little Rock in 2021.

The officers elected for the 2020-2021 year also include Commissioner Kent Leonhardt of West Virginia as Vice President, Commissioner Rick Pate of Alabama as Secretary, and Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh of Virginia as Treasurer.

SASDA consists of the commissioners, secretaries, and directors of agriculture from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Thank You from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture created a video of thanks to everyone who has a role in supporting Arkansas agriculture and our food supply chain during the challenging time presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Arkansans always rise to the challenge, and the Department is proud to represent and support Arkansas agriculture.
Event Plan Submission Form for
Agriculture-related Events
during COVID-19 Pandemic

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture developed an increased capacity event proposal form and is providing support for the Arkansas Department of Health in the evaluation of the submitted proposals. To submit an increased capacity proposal for agriculture-related events (rodeos, fairs, livestock shows, etc) , please click   here . Following are the  Directive for Large Indoor Venues   and   Directive for Large Outdoor Venues
USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Are you a farmer or rancher whose operation has been directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic? Applications are open now for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This program will provide $16 billion to agriculture producers who suffered a loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs. Eligible commodities include:
  • Non-specialty Crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat
  • Wool
  • Livestock: cattle, hogs, and sheep
  • Dairy
  • Specialty Crops: fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.

The deadline to apply is August 26, 2020.

Farm Service Agency to Host Webinars on
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The USDA Farm Service Agency will host a series of webinars to discuss what producers should know to sign up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

In addition to hearing from CFAP National Program Specialists, webinar participants will also learn more about the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process for submitting additional commodities for consideration to USDA for CFAP eligibility.

Tuesday, June 9, 3 p.m. EDT Specialty Crop Producers
Thursday, June 11, 3 p.m. EDT Dairy and Non-Specialty Crop Producers
Tuesday, June 16, 3 p.m. EDT Non-Specialty Crop and Livestock Producers
Thursday, June 18, 3 p.m. EDT FSA Programs in the Times of Coronavirus. In addition to CFAP, this webinar will discuss FSA programs with producer flexibilities during COVID-19 and also a review of targeted funding for beginning and other underserved farmers and ranchers in other programs. All webinars will be recorded and can be viewed at farmers.gov/cfap .

New CDC Guidelines for Seasonal Agriculture Workers

The USDA has provided Potential Resources for Seasonal Farmworker Housing. The linked pages outline potential federal, state, and philanthropic alternate housing opportunities for seasonal farmworkers and will be updated as additional opportunities are identified.

Typically, farmworker housing is communal, which could provide an increased risk for the spread of COVID-19. The federal government is engaging key stakeholders and gathering potential resources that may provide alternative options for farmers and migrant workers to protect worker safety and maintain critical working infrastructure. Employers should ensure that any options considered meet required regulatory housing standards. Find more information here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-agricultural-workers.html?fbclid=IwAR1Y9wEDQHSrCL0y86h5ZSr1ubx-2Wb_gNYq_JhmwVwRlGgAhjg0kg_j2iM
COVID-19 Federal Rural
Resource Guide

USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. These programs can support recovery efforts for rural residents, businesses, and communities through: 
• technical, training, and management assistance
• financial assistance; and
• state and local assistance.

This resource matrix organizes funding opportunities identified in stimulus bills and other federal resources that can help support rural America. Opportunities are categorized by customer and assistance type.  

For more information on the immediate actions USDA is taking to respond to COVID-19, visit usda.gov/coronavirus .  

To learn about USDA’s COVID-19 response for rural communities, visit rd.usda.gov/coronavirus .
Restrictions Lifted on Arkansas
Farmers Markets

The Arkansas Department of Health has lifted restrictions on the types of products that may be sold at Farmers Markets, meaning markets can now sell non-food items . Markets may operate under either the   Directive for Large Indoor Venues   or the Directive for Large Outdoor Venues .

Specific requirements include:
  • Maximum of 50 customers allowed in the market at one time. Plans are required for any market that wants to increase capacity above 50 persons.
  • Lines or cues for entrance, exit, making purchases, or for other reasons must be marked or monitored for maintaining a distance of 6 feet between people.
  • Face coverings are required for all persons present, except for children under 10 years of age, who are exempt.
  • Signs are required at all entrances advising the public not to enter if:
  • They have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell.
  • They have had known exposure to someone with Covid-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Signs must be posted at all entrances advising the public that they may wish to refrain from entering if:
  • They are 65 years of age or older.
  • They have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma, or weakened immunity.
  • Hand sanitizer/Handwashing stations must be available at all entrances and exits.
Thank you for your efforts to follow the Farmers Market Guidance during this public health emergency.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture Provided more than $300,000 for Conservation Projects

Through partnership of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, 18 Conservation Districts across the state were provided $309,172 in grants. The grants will be used to carry out natural resource enhancement, restoration, or protection activities.

Counties receiving the grants include: Arkansas, Boone, Buffalo, Clark, Clay, Crittenden, Crooked Creek, Drew, Faulkner, Fulton, Independence, Hempstead, Jackson, Lee, Poteau River, Saline, Sebastian, and Stone County.

The USDA NRCS awarded the Arkansas Department of Agriculture $866,044.66 for grants to conservation districts through the federal Grant to District program. In addition to the $309,172 in competitive grants, the award from NRCS included $290,000 in continued funding for two water quality technicians in Lawrence County.

Conservation districts are political subdivisions of the State of Arkansas created by popular vote of resident landowners as authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1937 to conserve land and water resources. There are 75 conservation districts in Arkansas.
Six Arkansas Communities Receive
Water and Wastewater Project Funding

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission approved funding for water and wastewater projects in six Arkansas communities on May 20, 2020.

The communities given funding include: the city of Austin, Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority, the city of Mitchellville, the city of Ravenden Springs, the city of Taylor, and the city of Tyronza. Funding totaled over $12.8 million.

Arkansas’ beef processors face labor, marketing challenges, study finds

Marketing and finding labor are among challenges facing the state’s beef processors, according to a study from the Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

The study was commissioned by the Arkansas Beef Council to examine retail beef production practices in the state. The survey launched in January included questions about wait time and capacity for serving small producers selling beef locally in Arkansas. 

Kristin Higgins, extension program associate with the Public Policy Center, said that key findings included:
  • Operators of facilities that are not under inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are content with their current business model.
  • However, there is interest in those processors growing their businesses either to support more producers selling locally or to add a retail component to their own businesses. 

The survey was part of a project that was also intended to provide an overview of program policies and costs in states that maintain a state-level inspection program. Individuals can download the study at  https://bit.ly/ArBeefProcessing2020


As we navigate through these unprecedented times, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture encourages Arkansans to support local, support each other, and support Arkansas agriculture. One way you can show your support is by joining our  #WeARCovered  campaign to show us how you are stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Update your Facebook profile picture with a photo of you wearing your face mask, and use our Facebook photo frame. When you go to upload a new photo, select "add frame" and then search the frames for "WeARCovered." Add the frame, tag the Department in your photo, and we'll share it!
Forestry Workers support maintenance at Veterans Cemetery

Members of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Forestry Division stepped up to provide needed assistance at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. After a maintenance team member of the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery was quarantined for COVID-19, the Forestry Division team along with members of the National Guard worked to ensure the grounds of the cemetery were maintained and enabled the continuance of final burial benefits to veterans and their family members. Team members provided care of the grounds in preparation for Memorial Day and the Memorial Day Event on May 25. The support provided in honor of our veterans was greatly appreciated.
Livestock Inspectors Working Around
COVID-19 Challenges

COVID-19 has presented challenges for livestock inspectors when processing animals at markets and conducting other fieldwork. Inspectors have been practicing social distancing and wearing PPE to carry out their work. Private veterinarians and livestock inspectors play an important role in the Livestock and Poultry Division’s mission of protecting animal and human health. Pictured on the left is Livestock Inspector Supervisor Ray Barker discussing work plans with Dr. Roger Helms, Veterinarian. Barker and Helms were working cattle for a special cattle sale at an Arkansas livestock market. 
Heifer Ranch Virtual Field Trip

On May 14, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Arkansas Farm to School, Heifer Ranch hosted a Virtual Heifer Ranch Field Trip. The field trip offered viewers a tour of the certified organic farm and advice on best practices to implement in the garden. The tour is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNrdm4skBNA

Thank you  Heifer USA  for an amazing tour.
COVID-19 Resources

The Department has produced numerous shareable and printable COVID-19 resources. We invite and encourage 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 Grown School Garden Contest 2020

School entries are being accepted for the seventh annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2019-2020 school year, or any school planning to start a garden in the 2020-2021 school year.

The contest runs through Sunday, September 13, 2020. Online entry forms and program requirements are available at http://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs . Winners will be announced at the Farm to School Celebration in October.
Arkansas Department of Health Issues
Self-help, Self-awareness, and Stress Management Videos

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has been working on a series of self-help, self-awareness, and stress management videos to help state employees cope with the rigors of managing COVID-19 operations. ADH has shared this link so anyone who needs these tools can access them: https://vimeopro.com/healthyarkansas/lnl-mindfulness-matters
Be sure to check out our video message about Farmers Markets and their
response to the COVID-19 pandemic!
Celebrating May as Arkansas Egg and Beef Month

On May 29, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture celebrated Arkansas Beef Month and Egg Month with a cookout in front of the Department. Secretary Wes Ward presented the Governor's Beef Month proclamation to the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association and the Arkansas Beef Council. The Egg Month proclamation was presented to the Poultry Federation and Cal-Maine Foods. The Arkansas Cattlemen's Association provided and grilled hamburgers, and Cal-Maine distributed eggs to attendees.

The beef month proclamation presentation can be viewed here, and the egg month proclamation presentation here.
Arkansas Ag Fact: Dairy

  • June is Dairy Month in Arkansas.
  • More than 100 Arkansas farm families derive their income from the sale of milk, contributing over $100 million to the state's economy.
  • Milk production on Arkansas dairy farms yielded approximately 8 million gallons of milk in 2018.
  • In Arkansas, the average dairy cow produces about 4.7 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 1,715 gallons of milk in a typical year.
  • It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese!