May 2020
Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force

Governor Asa Hutchinson named Secretary Wes Ward to the Economic Recovery Task Force on April 18. Governor Hutchinson tasked the Economic Recovery Task Force with creating industry-specific strategy and making recommendations to the Governor for Arkansas’s economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

The task force includes approximately 30 leaders from the private sector and public agencies who examine the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and industries in the state. Other members of the task force include Steuart Walton, Runway Group (Chair), Mike Preston, Department of Commerce, and Stacy Hurst, Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. The task force has worked closely with members of industry and officials from the Arkansas Department of Health and other agencies as industry-specific guidance has been developed and released to help re-energize Arkansas’s economy.
On Friday, May 8 th , the Governor and Chairman Steuart Walton announced the launch of a website intended to provide the latest information and resources on the state’s recovery efforts. The website includes links to industry resources, news, information on PPE resources and vendors, and a recovery timeline that shows announcements and effective dates for areas where restrictions are being lifted. You can visit the website here: .
Arkansas, We are in this Together Video Release

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department), on behalf of Arkansas agriculture and stakeholders, created a video message of reassurance to Arkansans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department encourages Arkansans to support local, support each other, and support Arkansas agriculture. 

“Arkansas agriculture continues to provide the food, fiber, and shelter that we all depend on despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “We appreciate the efforts and resiliency of our state’s agriculture industry as we all work together to get through this difficult time.” 
The video can be found on the Department YouTube page and COVID-19 Resource page of our website: a
The Department 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
Forestry Employees Work to Clear Storm Damage

County Foresters and Rangers from the Department’s Forestry Division have worked to clear storm damage at Arkansas State Parks so trails could stay open during the nice spring weather Arkansas has enjoyed over the past few weeks. Rangers have put in many hours at Cane Creek State Park in Lincoln County where they have cleared trails and cut fallen trees.
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 . Winners will be announced at the Farm to School Celebration in October.

The 2020 contest has a new category, “Champion of Sustaining School Garden,” where schools who have previously won in a category can be rewarded for their continued development and sustainability.
Applicants from public and private K-12 schools, early care facilities, and alternative learning environments are eligible to apply for the following categories:
  • Best School Garden Start-up Proposal - $500
  • Best Harvest Partnership Garden - $500
  • Best Education Based Garden - $500
  • Best Community Collaboration Garden - $500
  • Overall School Garden Winner - $1000
  • Champion of Sustaining School Garden - $1000

Successes of a 2019 winner, Sheridan Intermediate School, are captured in the following video:
Food Access Map and Local Grown Food Information Update

To improve access to food across the state, the Department developed an   Arkansas COVID-19 Food Access Map   . The map, made possible because of countless partnerships with agencies, nonprofits, farmers, and dedicated individuals, features school meals, food pantries, community meals, and local food. With approximately 1,500 data points of locations where Arkansans can find food, the Food Access Map has received 26,000 views.

Through a partnership with , a special category was created for the Food Access Map providing more accessibility to the map information. is a free, one-stop resource that provides a comprehensive, reliable list of the most accurate business and nonprofit information for Arkansans during this COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to the Food Access Map category, local farmers and farmers market managers can upload real-time information and control their listings on the website as they adapt their operations to the COVID-19 situation. With this partnership, Arkansans can access the    Food Access Map resource    on and find Arkansas Grown food available in their areas, as well as schools and organizations that are offering free meals while schools are closed.

If you have information to add to the map, fill out the survey here.

(Pictured: Nevada School District workers distribute meals from a school bus while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meals are available to the district's students for pick-up or delivery.) 
No Kid Hungry Texting Hotline

No Kid Hungry launched a texting hotline to provide information about emergency food distribution sites in communities where schools have been closed due to COVID-19. Families can text the word “FOOD” (or “COMIDA”) to 877877 to find their nearest sites. The Department's partnership with No Kid Hungry ensures that Arkansas School Meal data is available using the texting hotline.
Asian Giant Hornet

The Department has received several calls and emails from citizens concerned about Asian Giant "Murder" Hornets. Here’s what you need to know about this pest:

  • Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) has not been detected in Arkansas. This hornet is native to many parts of Asia. It is not known how this population came to the US.
  • The USDA confirmed the detection of a single AGH in Washington State in December of 2019. The Washington State Department of Agriculture is currently surveying their State for the pest. Should WSDA locate any AGH nests, they will respond quickly to eradicate them. This species has not been detected in the US outside of Washington State.
  • AGH does not attack people unless it feels threatened.
  • Although there are several unconfirmed AGH sightings from the public, neither USDA nor WSDA has any evidence that AGH populations are established in Washington or anywhere else in the United States. Lookalike hornet species known to occur in the United States may account for these unconfirmed sightings.
  • Arkansas beekeepers click here for more info:

If you have questions about the Asian Giant Hornet, please find more information on our website at or call (501)225-1598. Photos should be sent to [email protected] .
USDA NRCS Feral Swine Pilot Project Job Openings

The Feral Hog Eradication Task Force was created by the Arkansas legislature during the 2017 general session and was directed to create a plan for the eradication of feral hogs in Arkansas. Feral Hogs are an invasive species, a public nuisance, and a threat to Arkansas. Their damage and control are conservatively estimated to result in agricultural and ecological costs of $1.5 billion annually.

Arkansas was one of 10 states to receive funding through the USDA Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. The program is a collaborative effort between the NRCS, APHIS, Arkansas Conservation Districts, Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, and other Feral Hog Task Force members to reduce feral hog populations, address resource concerns, and provide public education about effective control methods in four project areas across the state. More information about the Feral Hog Task Force can be found at

There are job openings in the four project areas of the Feral Swine Pilot Project. Find information on each area's openings below:

#SelfieTree Contest

Congratulations to the first 4 winners of the  #SelfieTree  contest in honor of Arbor Day! Rob Beadel, Harold Fisher, Landon Wright, and Chandler Barton had the most likes for their  #SelfieTree  photos and each wins a tree. The contest continues through May 22nd, so be sure to enter by following 4 easy steps:
1. Take a selfie with a tree (Be creative!)
2. Use  #SelfieTree  in your post when you post it on Facebook.
3. Click on the photo to add a tag, and tag  Arkansas Urban Forestry Council .
4. Get the most likes for your photo between now and every Friday through May 22nd!
Armed to Farm

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is accepting applications from military veterans for the week-long Armed to Farm training in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The training is currently scheduled for June 15-19.

NCAT is monitoring the COVID-19 situation and following guidance on travel, social distancing, and group gatherings. If it is not yet safe to hold the training in June, the event will be postponed. If you apply now and it is postponed, you will not have to reapply.

Visit  for more information and the online application.
Arkansas Ag Fact: Beef

  • May is Arkansas Beef Month
  • Arkansas has cattle production in each of Arkansas’s 75 counties
  • Arkansas has 915,000 head of beef cows and 1,740,000 head of cattle and calves
  • Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in number of beef cows and 17th in the nation in number of all cattle and calves 
  • Cattle and calves consistently rank among Arkansas’s top 5 agricultural commodities in cash receipts, valued at more than $481 million