March 2020
A Message from Secretary Wes Ward regarding the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Response to COVID-19

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture continues to monitor developments related to COVID-19 and is following all Arkansas Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control protocols for our staff and the public while continuing to fulfill the Department’s mission of ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.  You have my assurance that the Department will do our utmost to continue providing vital services to Arkansas agriculture, our state’s largest industry.
Open and accurate communication, internally and externally, is critical during emergency situations like the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department’s leadership team meets every morning to discuss recent developments and their potential impacts and to address the concerns of employees and Arkansas producers.  The Department also is communicating with Arkansas producers, agribusinesses, and other industry partners about potential impacts to their respective sectors and is staying in frequent contact with USDA
We understand that every sector of Arkansas agriculture will be impacted by the pandemic. A resource page has been created on our website at Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Resource Information   and will be updated as new information becomes available.   Pertinent information for Arkansas producers also will be shared through emails and social media platforms including our Facebook and Twitter pages. As a reminder, health-related inquiries should be directed to the Arkansas Department of Health website.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture exists to serve Arkansas agriculture, and we take that responsibility seriously.  We have an excellent continuity of operation plan that will enable the Department to maintain “business as usual” for essential services to the industry. Several meetings hosted by the Department or its boards and commissions are being rescheduled or held virtually, as feasible
Please do not hesitate to contact us whenever we can be of assistance.
NASDA Winter Policy Meeting

Secretary Wes Ward participated in the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Policy Meeting in Washington D.C. February 24-26.
NASDA members hosted industry leaders, partners, and stakeholders to strategize around this year’s theme, "Uniting All for Agriculture,” and find ways to address key agriculture and food cha llenges.  Participants had the opportunity to meet with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Congressional members. Secreta ry Ward co-chaired the Rural Development and Financial Security Committee and presented two action items focused on improving funding for rural broadband access and improving rural mental health. Both were approved by the full NASDA board.
Shared Stewardship Award presented to Secretary Perdue

State Forester Joe Fox (third from left) was a part of the  National Association of State Foresters (NASF)  leadership who presented Secretary Sonny Perdue with a Shared Stewardship Award from NASF in Washington D.C.

The award recognizes Secretary Perdue for his creation and promotion of the  U.S. Department of Agriculture  Forest Service Shared Stewardship Program. Arkansas was the first state in the south to sign on and the first agreement in the nation to include Natural Resource Conservation Services. The  Arkansas Game and Fish Commission  is also a signatory.

Pictured (left to right): Undersecretary of Agriculture Jim Hubbard, Alabama State Forester Rick Dates, Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, South Dakota State Forester and NASF President Greg Josten, and Nevada State Forester Casey KC.
Arkansas State Agribusiness Conference

Secretary Wes Ward was the keynote speaker at the Arkansas State University Argribusiness Conference February 12 in Jonesboro. He also participated in a panel discussion
with the audience.
2020 Young Cattlemen's Leadership Class Visit

As part of the first meeting of the 2020 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Class in February, the group visited the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Secretary Wes Ward, Livestock Division Director Patrick Fisk, State Veterinarian Randy Chick, and Director of the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory Russ Summers spoke to this year’s class which consists of 20 participants from across the state and the industry. The class toured the Department’s laboratories after the discussions.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Applications Due April 8

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the 2020 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). These grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance the competitiveness of the Arkansas specialty crop industry.

Specialty crops are defined by USDA as fruits, vegetables, horticulture, floriculture, and tree nuts. Proposals must be submitted
by April 8 here.

Applicants are encouraged to develop projects pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:
  • Enhancing food safety;
  • Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (21 U.S.C. Chapter 27);
  • Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;
  • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
  • Pest and disease control;
  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; and
  • Sustainability.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture uses a two-phase application process for administering the grant funds. Project concept proposals must be submitted by April 8 and outline the project’s goals, tasks, and budget requirements. After all concept proposals are reviewed by an advisory committee, selected projects will be invited to submit detailed project proposals. Only electronic applications will be accepted.

The full Request for Applications (RFA) is available:

For additional information, contact Juan Hurtado, [email protected]
Arkansas Agritourism Conference

The Arkansas Agritourism Association  Conference was held February 19 at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office in Little Rock. Secretary Wes Ward was the keynote speaker. The Arkansas Agritourism Association connects small farms, big farms, public institutions, corn mazes, wine producers, petting zoos, and more, for the common goal of promoting agritourism throughout the natural state.
Buffalo River Conservation Committee Meeting

Members of the Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC), chaired by Secretary Wes Ward, met on February 13 in Marshall. The BRCC is a public-private partnership designed to identify and fund projects within the Buffalo River area. In 2019, Governor Hutchinson announced that $2 million in state and private funds were allocated to conservation projects within the Buffalo River Watershed.
Century Farm Applications Open

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the 2020 Arkansas Century Farm program. This program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.

Online and printable applications are available here.

There is no cost to apply. To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:
  • The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by Dec. 31, 2020. The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption.
  • The farm must be at least ten acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Since the Arkansas Century Farm program began in 2012, a total of 464 farms have been certified. Find lists of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families here.

Contact Mary Elizabeth Lea at 501-219-6363 or [email protected] with questions.

Applications must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2020, to be eligible for designation as a 2020 inductee. 
Smokey Bear visits Schools

Smokey Bear made a couple of appearances in Newton County in February. Smokey visited Mrs. Stretton's 3rd grade class at Western Grove School on February 13. County Ranger Shawn Smith and Ranger II Doug Lowery visited Mrs. Vanderpool’s third grade class with Smokey at Deer School on February 12.
Arkansas Farmers' Industrial Hemp Conference

The Arkansas Farmers' Industrial Hemp Conference was held February 14 and 15 in North Little Rock.

Caleb Allen, the Industrial Hemp Program Manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, was one of the featured speakers. The conference covered topics ranging from regulatory and legal requirements to finding the best market for hemp products.
Diversity in Agriculture Conference

Secretary Wes Ward spoke at the Diversity in Agriculture Conference February 28 at the Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock.

The goal of the conference was to expand the awareness of the career and business opportunities that exist in agriculture. The conference allowed participants to explore opportunities through success stories and networking. It also fostered an expansion of public and private partnerships within agriculture.
Baucum Nursery Announces Prices for Hardwood Seedlings

New prices for hardwood seedlings from Baucum Nursery will take effect July 1, 2020, for the 2021 crop.

Baucum Nursery is a bare root reforestation nursery operated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division in North Little Rock. The nursery produces more than 7 million hardwood seedlings and more than 1 million pine seedlings each year. Over 1.1 billion seedlings have been produced since the nursery was established in 1956.

Customers may visit to pre-order seedlings up to three years in advance. Orders are ready for customer pick up annually, January through March, at 15 locations across the state. For additional information, please contact Baucum Nursery at 501-907-2485. 

The new hardwood seedling prices are as follows:
Arkansas Grown Magazine 2020

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture exists to serve and promote Arkansas agriculture, our state’s largest industry. Our goal with each edition of Arkansas Grown is to provide you an overview of the breadth and diversity of Arkansas agriculture and the families that make the industry possible. Find the online version here.

We're kicking off a new social media campaign! Post a picture of you, your family, friends, or colleagues holding a copy of our Arkansas Grown magazine anywhere in Arkansas. Use  #ArkansasGrown2020  and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and we'll share your photo! Be sure to tell us what your favorite part of the magazine is, or what makes you #ArkansasGrown2020.
Fire Protection District receives Freightliner

Piney Fire Protection District in Garland County received a 2009 Freightliner with a 2,500 gallon tank on February 10 from the Rural Fire Protection office of the Forestry Division. Pictured is Fire Chief Scott Miser, Jr., RFP Mechanic Ray Brown, and Piney FPD firefighters.
Ashley County Fire Departments Receive Grants for Fire Mitigation Efforts

Four fire departments in Ashley County recently received grants for continuing efforts to reduce their communities’ wildfire risks through the Firewise USA® recognition program.

Crossett, Hamburg, Milo, and Unity-Frost Prairie fire departments completed Firewise USA® renewal requirements of conducting education and mitigation activities that address local wildfire safety concerns.

The Firewise USA® program is a nationwide initiative that recognizes communities for taking action to protect people and properties from the risk of fire in the wildland/urban interface. Communities tailor education and mitigation efforts to fit their needs with cooperative assistance from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, the Arkansas Firewise team, and their local fire staff.

Communities interested in earning Firewise USA® recognition or learning more about the program can visit here , email [email protected], or call Arkansas Firewise at 501-813-2554 for more information.
Arkansas AgCast

Russell Lancaster, an officer with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Law Enforcement, is featured in this   Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation  AgCast talking about timber theft. Investigating timber theft is a large part of the officers' jobs, and they estimate they receive 120-150 theft complaints each year.

Arkansas Farm Bureau also published a video on the most recent Pesticide Collection events around the state. Find it here.
New Videos
Check out our newest videos on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Youtube.

In honor of FFA week, February 22-29, we created videos featuring the Arkansas FFA State Officers and the Agriculture Department at Centerpoint High School. You can also find them on our Facebook page.
Arkansas Ag Fact: Peanuts

  • March is Arkansas Peanut Month.
  • In 2019, Arkansas harvested 33,000 acres and 172 million pounds of peanuts in 11 counties.
  • The Arkansas peanut crop is worth more than $32 million, making it the sixth largest cash crop in the state.
  • There are peanut buying points in Portia, Pocahontas, Marianna, and Jonesboro, Arkansas.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter are naturally cholesterol-free and a protein powerhouse, containing more protein than any other nut.