2021 Arkansas Grown

The latest edition of the Arkansas Grown magazine is here! With over 20 features about Arkansas agriculture, there’s something for everyone. You can view the magazine online here, or find a physical copy at various locations around the state very soon!
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture Hosts Local Conversations to Promote Local Procurement

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is hosting a Local Conversations event on Friday, March 12, to help connect Arkansas farmers, producers, and farmers market managers. The free, virtual event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Local Conversations is sponsored by the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas.

“Our Local Conversations events are designed to bring producers together to learn from each other so consumers can ultimately have more access to locally produced food and products,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “These events have been well-received in the past, and we are looking forward to another successful event this year.”

Local Conversations 2021 will feature a panel of four farmers and market managers for discussion of alternative selling methods, innovations, and adaptations made to address issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Presentations on Selling Online, Social Media Marketing, and Pricing Your Products will follow the panel discussion.

Funding for the Alternative Selling Methods Campaign 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.

Partners that will be on hand for presentations and discussion include representatives from the Arkansas Department of Health, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, the Arkansas Economic Development Institute, Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas, and the Arkansas Farmers Market Association.

Event registration is available at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZckcuqpqTooH9YsOokokAlexRekYTN7iRI. For more information, contact Karen Reynolds at karen.reynolds@agriculture.arkansas.gov.
Prescribed Fire as a Management Tool
What is prescribed fire? A prescribed fire, also known as a “controlled burn” and/or referred to as “prescribed burning,” is a strategically planned and carefully managed application of fire used to accomplish specific conservation/land management objectives. Prescribed burns are conducted in Arkansas by officials from an array of conservation agencies, and in many cases by private landowners and companies. Last year, federal, state, and private agencies/individuals reported 228,679 acres of completed prescribed fires in Arkansas.

Why is prescribed fire important?
  • Prescribed fire makes communities safer by removing flammable debris and vegetation, thereby making landscapes more resistant to wildfire.
  • Prescribed fire is a great tool for adding and/or improving wildlife habitat.
  • Prescribed fire opens the seedbed of the landscape to allow for healthier growth of tree seedlings and herbaceous plant species.
  • Prescribed burning is the cheapest, and most natural land management tool available.
  • Prescribed fire is a natural, historic part of the Arkansas landscape.
  • Prescribed fire improves natural areas aesthetically and ecologically.
  • Prescribed fire helps native plant species to flourish.
 
Officials from private, state, and federal agencies use prescribed fire as a management tool to improve natural areas and manage forests, grasslands, woodlands, and prairies across Arkansas. February – April is the most common time period for prescribed burning efforts in Arkansas due to favorable weather conditions. September – November is the second most common time period for safe prescribed burning conditions. The best conditions for prescribed burning also coincide with periods of the highest wildfire frequency in Arkansas. The top priority of all prescribed burn efforts is safety. Prescribed fire technicians work carefully to monitor weather conditions to differentiate between safe burning conditions (low wind/mild humidity/dry vegetation) and unsafe burning conditions (high wind/low humidity/dormant vegetation). 

More information on prescribed fire is available at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry
Food Manufacturing Workers Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine

Governor Hutchinson recently announced the expansion of vaccine availability within Phase 1-B which includes those who work in food manufacturing. Due to the limited supply of vaccines, it will take time to get everyone vaccinated. You can find information about vaccination locations, updates on vaccine availability, and answers related to the COVID-19 vaccine here

Invasive Zebra Mussels Confirmed in Arkansas Aquarium/Pet Stores

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has confirmed that some aquarium and pet stores in The Natural State have been offering for sale an aquarium product that may contain zebra mussels, a highly invasive species that can cause severe damage to the food chain and infrastructure in native lakes and rivers.

The product, the “Betta Buddy Marimo Ball,” is a type of moss used in aquariums that helps feed some tropical fish. It is shipped from a company in California which imports the plant from Ukraine, where zebra mussels are native. The mussels were first detected in Seattle by a pet store employee who notified the authorities.

Upon hearing of the issue, AGFC staff investigated some pet stores around Arkansas and found the product being sold. Further investigation of those moss balls confirmed zebra mussels in them as well. 

“Some pet stores have already voluntarily pulled the product once they were informed of the issue, and we urge any others to follow suit,” said Bill Posey, AGFC assistant chief of fisheries. “The company that produces the product has closed any further importation of the infected moss.”
Posey asks anyone who purchased any moss for their aquariums or purchased fish with the moss included in the bag to discard the vegetation properly.

“The best thing to do is lay it somewhere where it can dry out, then dispose of it in a trash can,” Posey said. “Please do not discard it anywhere near water or flush it down a toilet.” 
Aquariums that may have contained the zebra mussels can be drained and disinfected with a household bleach solution at 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Filters, pumps and gravel should be treated with the bleach solution or allowed to dry completely for at least seven days to reduce the threat of zebra mussels contaminating the aquarium.

“We don’t want to alarm anyone, but we do need everyone’s help to make sure these mussels don’t further infect waters in Arkansas,” Posey said. 

Zebra mussels have a hatchet-shaped shell, commonly the size of a fingernail. They multiply so rapidly and cling tightly together in such masses that they can clog intake pipes of water supply systems and power generating plants as well as cooling lines of boat motors. They also pose a threat to native Arkansas mussels, often growing on the shells of those mussels and smothering them. Zebra mussels filter plankton from the water that native species depend upon, reducing nutrients available to sport fish. Each female zebra mussel can spawn up to 50,000 microscopic eggs which can mature quickly, creating clusters of mussels as dense as 40,000 per square foot.
Visit www.stopaquatichitchhikers.org for more information on invasive species and how you can help prevent their spread in Arkansas’s waters.
Farm to School Connection

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service are excited to offer an opportunity for schools and farmers to connect to create more opportunities for local food in schools. Join us March 18, 2021 from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. to learn how to buy local food, how to sell your local produce to schools, and connect in a regional breakout session.
Arkansas State Plant Board Votes to Change Current Dicamba Rule 

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s State Plant Board held a regularly scheduled board meeting on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

During the meeting, the board considered a petition for rulemaking seeking changes to the current dicamba rule, Section XIII (B) of the Arkansas Rules on Pesticide Use, found here. After discussion of the petition, the board voted to initiate rulemaking and proposed a rule that, if adopted, would allow farmers and applicators to follow the federal label in the use of dicamba.

The proposed rule would allow the over-the-top spraying of Engenia, Xtendimax, and Tavium through June 30 on soybeans and through July 30 on cotton. The proposed rule will also require a pH buffering agent, also called a Volatility Reducing Agent, to be tank-mixed with dicamba, and will require a downwind buffer of 240 feet.

In accordance with the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, the proposed rule will be open for public comment for 30 days. Following the public comment period, the board will review any comments received and determine if any changes should be adopted as a result of the comments. The rule will then go the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Administrative Rules Subcommittee, with additional review and approval by the full Arkansas Legislative Council before becoming effective.

The current cutoff date for spraying dicamba in Arkansas is May 25. The May 25 cutoff will remain in effect until a new rule has received final approval.

A copy of the proposed rule and notice of the 30-day comment period and future Plant Board meetings will be available on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website as they become available. 
 
National Ag Law Center Hosting Free Webinar

The National Agricultural Law Center is hosting a free webinar titled High-Capacity Wells: A Survey of Groundwater Withdrawal Rights and Regulations on Wednesday, March 17th from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (CST). This webinar will explore the various legal approaches governing the right to withdraw and groundwater generally, as well as the regulatory frameworks in place for groundwater withdrawals via high-capacity wells. It will also discuss recent legal decisions and policy approaches that inform the evolving discussion regarding how these types of withdrawals might best be regulated. Find more information and register here.
Homegrown By Heroes Scholarship
Applications Due March 26

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are partnering to provide two $1,000 Homegrown by Heroes academic scholarships to military veterans and active military personnel, their spouses, and children who are pursuing a degree in agriculture. Funding for the scholarships is generously provided by Farm Credit.

Applications are due March 26, 2021 and are available at : agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-programs/.

Selection of scholarship recipients will be based on academic achievement, community involvement, extracurricular activities, financial need, and family circumstances. Preference will be given to Arkansas Homegrown by Heroes members, spouses, and their children, but membership is not required.

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 at arkansasgrown.org/homegrown-by-heroes/
Arkansas Women in Agriculture Scholarships Available

Arkansas Women in Agriculture (ARWIA) provides support for women in agriculture through their college scholarship program. In 2021, ARWIA is offering two $500 scholarships.

Eligibility requirements:
  • Must be accepted to or currently attending an accredited college in Arkansas as an undergraduate or graduate student studying an agricultural field.
  • Applicant (or immediate family member) must be a current Arkansas Women in Agriculture member.
  • Email completed scholarship application and letter of recommendation to membership@arwomeninag.org with the subject "ARWIA Scholarship Application" by April 30, 2021.

The 2021 Arkansas Women in Agriculture Scholarship Application is available at http://arwomeninag.org/2021-arwia-scholarship-application/
Produce Grower Remote Training Workshop

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension will be hosting a Produce Grower Remote Training Workshop, May 5-6. The training will be from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. each day. Cost for the workshop is $20 for Arkansas residents and $100 for out-of-state participants. The workshop is open to 20 participants. Registration closes April 28, 2021.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule is the first federally regulated standard for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding fresh produce in an effort to reduce microbial contamination and foodborne illness outbreaks. If you grow fruit or vegetables, attend a training for information about best practices, risk management, and regulatory requirements.

Training Modules include:
  1. Introduction to Produce Safety
  2. Worker Health, Hygiene and Training
  3. Soil Amendments
  4. Wildlife, Domesticated Animals and Land Use
  5. Agricultural Water, Part 1: Production Water
  6. Agricultural Water, Part 2: Postharvest Water
  7. Postharvest Handling and Sanitation
  8. How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan

This is a remote training. Participants must have the necessary technology to participate. Attendance and engagement will be monitored. Participants are only eligible for PSA/AFDO Certificate of Course Completion if they are present for all modules of the course.

For additional information, contact Natacha Cureau at ncureau@uada.edu or (501) 416-6247.
Arkansas 4-H Planning St. Patrick’s Day Fundraiser

Arkansas 4-H is looking to grow its program on the most green-intensive day of the year: St. Patrick’s Day.

There are a couple ways to contribute:
  • Through the one-day online fund drive set for March 17. Just click the “donate” button in the top right of the foundation page.
  • At select Chick-fil-A stores in Hot Springs, Little Rock, Searcy and Fayetteville. Information on participating locations is available here.

To learn more about 4-H, contact your county extension office or visit Arkansas 4-H’s website.
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.
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Did you know that March is Arkansas Peanut Month?
Check out these facts about Arkansas peanuts.
  • Arkansas harvested 38,000 acres and 182 million pounds of peanuts in 15 Arkansas counties in 2020.
  • The value of Arkansas’s peanut crop is more than $35 million, making it the seventh largest cash crop in the state.
  • In 2014 the USDA formally recognized Arkansas as a primary peanut-producing state.
  • Peanuts add diversity to our agriculture industry and provide opportunity for sustainable crop rotations.
  • Peanuts are an excellent source of niacin and magnesium, and contain vitamin E, biotin, and copper, along with a host of other nutrients.
  • Arkansas has a peanut shelling facility in Jonesboro and four peanut buying points at Portia, Pocahontas, Marianna, and Jonesboro.
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
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