Prescribed Burn

On April 13, 22 volunteer firefighters from eight different organizations assisted with a 250-acre prescribed burn at Burns Park in North Little Rock. The organizations included the Nature Conservancy, Quail Forever, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Arkansas Game and Fish, Central Arkansas Master Naturalists, Camp Robinson Fire Department, North Little Rock Fire Department, and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division. Multiple community volunteers also assisted to help block traffic and monitor smoke coverage over Interstate 40.

"I couldn't believe we had this much response from partnering agencies with only a 24 hour notice," said Bert Turner, acting burn boss from Burns Park. "It was amazing!"

Prescribed burns are carried out to remove any potential fuels and act as a preventative measure, and also promote healthy forests and animal habitats. Arkansas is near the end of a seasonal period which usually presents prime conditions for forest wildfires. Late winter and early spring is a period where little-to-no precipitation occurs before vegetation start to turn green. Fallen leaves, dead grass, and other cured fuels from the winter are easily ignited. This, coupled with the passage of dry cold fronts and high winds, provides a perfect scenario for large fires.

"Some people may think prescribed burning is bad or dangerous, but it’s actually helpful to the landscape," said Ty Dillon, Perry and Pulaski County Forester. "Prescribed burns remove built-up fuel, lowering the chances of a wildfire. They also help clean up the landscape and create new habitat for wildlife. The new vegetation growth attracts a lot of different animals to the area, from insects and songbirds to turkey and deer. There are so many benefits to conducting a prescribed burn and we want to help everyone learn and understand why the Forestry Division conducts burns."

You can view more photos from the Burns Park prescribed burn here. To learn more about Arkansas prescribed burns visit our website, or read about them in the 2021 Arkansas Grown magazine here!
Senator Boozman visits St. Joseph Center of Arkansas

Secretary Wes Ward and other Department staff joined Senator John Boozman at St. Joseph Center of Arkansas to learn about its mission and talk about Arkansas agriculture. 

"I had the privilege to stop by the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas in North Little Rock," said Senator Boozman. "The innovative agricultural programs and sustainability efforts taking place on this historic property are impressive. They are also proud supporters of veteran farmers. It was great to get an update on their efforts and learn more about these programs."

St. Joseph Center is an independent non-profit organization
with a mission to preserve and restore this historic property though sustainable farming and food production, programs that educate and promote agritourism, and support community outreach. You can view more photos from the visit here.

The St. Joseph farm stand is open every Saturday and sells local, Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made products. Find more information about St. Joseph Center of Arkansas and their farm stand here.
Public Meeting on Proposed Dicamba Rule to be Held May 3, 2021

The Arkansas State Plant Board will hold a virtual public hearing via Zoom on May 3, 2021 to receive comments on proposed changes to the Plant Board rules on dicamba usage. The proposed rule change may be viewed here.

Members of the public desiring to make verbal comments at the May 3 hearing must pre-register here. Pre-registration began April 14 and continues through April 29, 2021. Written comments were accepted through April 22, 2021.

The State Plant Board will also hold a special called board meeting after the conclusion of the public hearing. You can find more information about the public hearing, special called board meeting, dicamba updates, laws, and regulations here.
USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program in Effort to Boost Enrollment and Address Climate Change

On April 21, United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during the White House National Climate Task Force meeting, with hopes of demonstrating USDA’s commitment to putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.

The Biden-Harris Administration is working to leverage USDA conservation programs for climate mitigation, including continuing to invest in innovation partnership programs like RCPP and On-Farm Trials as well as strengthening programs like CRP to enhance their impacts. For more information about these programs, visit the USDA website.
Animal Traceability

The strength of a national network for animal disease traceability is dependent upon the capability of states, tribes, and territories to trace animal movements. Disease transference occurs within the states, tribes, and territories, making it the responsibility of those entities to develop effective and efficient animal disease traceability and surveillance programs. At the same time, those entities must maintain the freedom to move animals interstate and internationally with open communications between and among themselves, seven days a week.

While the concept of traceability is not new, there has been a mindset shift in recent years. Historically, concerns about technology, privacy, and economic costs have challenged the development of a cattle disease traceability system. Today, industry stakeholders across the United States recognize the need for a viable end-to-end cattle disease traceability system, which provides critical tools to manage a disease outbreak and may provide opportunities to add value to the industry.

Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc., is putting its support behind a cattle disease traceability program called U.S. CattleTrace.

This makes Tyson the first beef processor to invest in membership in the program, which was formed by multiple state cattlemen’s organizations to develop a national infrastructure for animal disease traceability in the U.S. cattle industry. The program is expected to assist animal health officials with an effective and quick disease response within the U.S. cattle herd in the event of a foreign animal disease occurring in the U.S., which is critical for the entire beef industry to maintain daily operations and continue to access ever important beef export markets.

To learn more about the Division's traceability efforts visit our website. You can find more information about U.S. CattleTrace here. For more information about Tyson's partnership with U.S. CattleTrace visit the Tyson Foods, Inc. website.
“Free Tree Fridays” Conclude April 30 in Honor of National Arbor Day

In recognition of National Arbor Day, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division is hosting drive-through giveaways of bare root oak seedlings at various locations across the state each Friday in April. The oak seedlings include the Nutall oak, pin oak, water oak, and Shumard oak species.

Twelve events have been held since April 2, and the last six giveaway events will be held in Dequeen, Greenbrier, Gassville, Magnolia, Warren, and Little Rock on April 30, which is recognized as National Arbor Day this year. National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April each year.

“Adding trees to your yard or to a community forest is beneficial to all Arkansans, and spring is an excellent time to plant trees,” said Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator for the Forestry Division. “What better way to recognize National Arbor Day than to provide free trees all month long.”

The full list of locations and times can be found here.
American Rescue Plan Debt Payments

The American Rescue Plan includes provisions for the United States Department of Agriculture to pay up to 120% of loan balances, as of January 1, 2021, held by socially disadvantaged producers on Farm Service Agency Direct and Guaranteed Farm Loans and Farm Storage Facility Loans. 

Socially disadvantaged producers include producers who identify as one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander. Since this debt payment will qualify as income, Congress determined the 20% additional payment is intended to help mitigate liabilities that occur when clearing a debt, which may include tax liabilities, among others.

For more information about participation and qualifying loans, visit
Feral Hog Surveys

The Feral Hog Eradication Task Force (FHETF), in partnership with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is seeking information from Arkansans regarding landowners experiences with feral hogs. The goal is the eradication of feral hogs, which wreak havoc on crops, property, and natural resources.

The task force is currently seeking survey participation, even from landowners who do not have contact with feral hogs. Agents and associates with the Cooperative Extension Service will be contacting landowners in areas where feral swine pilot projects are being conducted in the state. These include Ashley, Arkansas, Drew, Hempstead, Howard, Sevier, Yell, Logan, Sebastian, Marion, Baxter, and Izard counties.

Becky McPeake, professor of wildlife extension for the Division of Agriculture, said participation is encouraged, even among landowners who have had no direct contact with feral hogs. The survey will be conducted several times over the next few years to track changes in reported damages. All landowners, hunters, and feral hog trappers in the state should report their sightings and removals of feral hogs at the Feral Hog Survey 123 app. Removal maps from the Feral Hog Survey can be found on the FHETF webpage.
Reminder: Century Farm Applications Due May 31

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is currently accepting applications for the 2021 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 on the Department's website. There is no cost to apply. 

Arkansas is home to more than 42,300 farms, of which 96 percent are family owned and operated. Since the Arkansas Century Farm program began in 2012, 494 farms from 72 counties, have been certified. Find lists of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families here.
School Garden Contest

Entries are now being accepted for the eighth 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 school, early childhood education facility, or alternative learning environment that had a school garden during the 2020-2021 school year or is planning to start a garden in the 2021-2022 school year.

You can find more information about the Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest and the Arkansas Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program here.
"Good Roots" on Arkansas PBS

Arkansas PBS, in partnership with Arkansas Farm Bureau, launched its first "Good Roots" segment on April 16. Each segment explores rural community life, agribusiness, and how these are evolving through modern advances.

“Good Roots” features stories of life and innovation from small towns in every corner of the state, seeking to shine a light on Arkansas’s rich rural culture and communities. Segments focus on the real stories of rural life, while addressing relevant topics like agriculture, health care, the economy, technology, policy, and more.

Beginning in May, "Good Roots" will air on the second Friday of each month. Read more about the segment, meet the hosts, and check out their blog on the Arkansas PBS website.
2021 Arkansas Grown

Learn more about how Arkansas's rice checkoff dollars are being put to work in the latest edition of the Arkansas Grown magazine!

With over 20 features about Arkansas agriculture, there’s something for everyone. You can view the magazine online here, find a physical copy at various locations around the state, or request a copy!
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.
Follow us on social media!

For the latest in Arkansas agriculture, be sure to follow us on social media! Links to our social media pages can be found here.
  • J. Sterling Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday to be called, "Arbor Day," on January 4, 1872, at a meeting of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture.
  • Arbor Day was officially proclaimed in 1874 by Nebraska, but by 1920 more than 45 states and territories were celebrating Arbor Day.
  • Arkansas's Arbor Day is celebrated the third Monday in March, and we celebrate National Arbor Day the last Friday in April.
  • Arbor Day is celebrated by the planting of trees.
  • Trees are often planted in honor of loved ones.
  • The act of planting a tree gives hope that the tree will grow to provide us with clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, healthier communities, and natural beauty.
  • Arkansas has nearly 19 million acres of forests with over 12 billion trees.
  • More than 56 percent of Arkansas's land mass is forested.
  • Arkansas has 41 tree cities, impacting more than 837,836 Arkansas residents.
  • Arkansas's state tree is the pine tree.
  • The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Baucum Nursery sold more than 7,341,125 hardwood and pine seedlings in 2020.
COVID-19 Resources

All Arkansans 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Stay on top of COVID-19 vaccine information with news from the Arkansas Department of Health.

Need more 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 our print and shareable resources.

Department COVID-19 resources can also be found on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
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