Arkansas Department of Agriculture Accepting Proposals for Two Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Funding Opportunities
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications through the 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.

Funding for the 2021 SCBGP is made available in response to priority needs relating to COVID-19 and provides flexibilities not typically offered in SCBGP funding due to the exigent circumstances of the pandemic.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture uses a two-phase application process for administering the grant funds. Project concept proposals outlining the project’s goals, tasks, and budget requirements must be submitted by March 1.

Entities may apply for both grant opportunities. After all concept proposals are reviewed by an advisory committee, selected projects will be invited to submit detailed project proposals.
Applicants are encouraged to develop projects pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

  • Increasing sales and marketability and driving demand for specialty crops;
  • Increasing consumption of specialty crops in Arkansas’s schools by expanding child knowledge and/or improving access to the nutritional benefits of specialty crops;
  • Increasing access to local healthy foods;
  • Research projects focused on helping specialty crop growers reduce financial costs, improve pest and disease management, and/or value-added products; and
  • Enhancing specialty crop food safety.

The 2022 SCBGP application can be found here.

The 2021 SCBGP HR 133 application can be found here.

Information about the 2022 SCBGP is available in the Request for Applications (RFA) here.

Information about the 2021 SCBGP HR 133 is available in the RFA here.

For additional information, contact Amy Lyman,
Arkansas Department of Agriculture Urges
Poultry Owners to Increase Biosecurity, Monitoring
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is urging poultry owners to increase biosecurity measures on their operations in response to several reports of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in other states to include some in the Mississippi Flyway.

HPAI is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry and wild birds. HPAI virus strains are extremely infections, often fatal to chickens, and can spread rapidly from flock to flock. Symptoms can include sudden increase in bird deaths with no clinical signs, lack of energy and appetite, decrease in egg production, soft- or thin-shelled or misshapen eggs, and more.

Although there have been no reports of HPAI in Arkansas this year, there have been reported cases in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana, a commercial broiler chicken flock in Kentucky, and a backyard flock of mixed species birds in Virginia.

Because of these nearby infections, Arkansas is at risk of infection and poultry owners should be on high alert. Arkansas State Veterinarian John Nilz said an increase in biosecurity should be a priority for Arkansas poultry owners.

“By practicing good biosecurity, you can reduce the risk of people, animals, equipment, or vehicles carrying infectious diseases onto your property,” said Nilz. “This will also help protect other flocks in the state by preventing the spread of disease.”

Biosecurity refers to everything people do to keep diseases – and the viruses, bacteria, funguses, parasites, and other microorganisms that cause diseases – away from birds, property, and people. Biosecurity measures can include keeping visitors to a minimum, changing clothes before entering poultry areas, cleaning tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility, and more.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides resources on biosecurity for poultry operations through their Defend the Flock campaign, which can be found here.

Poultry owners should also monitor their flocks and report any possible symptoms to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture at 501-823-1746. More information on HPAI symptoms can be found here.

More information on HPAI can be found here.

Confirmed HPAI cases in the U.S. for 2022 can be found here.
Arkansas Department of Agriculture Looks to Partner
with Landowners on Conservation Tax Credits
With increased interest in conservation tax credits, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division is looking to partner with landowners in an effort to address natural resource issues across the state. The Division offers two tax credit programs focused on conserving the quantity and quality of Arkansas’s water. 

The tax credit programs are designed to encourage private landowners to implement measures that will conserve groundwater and protect, maintain, and create new wetlands and riparian zones. Wetlands include marshes and swamps, and riparian zones are areas of land adjacent to streams and rivers. Both types of resources are important to Arkansas’s ground water and surface water quality.
“Many landowners are unaware of these tax credit programs,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “Tax credits can be an excellent way to incentivize conservation practices on private lands to address important natural resource concerns to include the increasingly important topic of groundwater conservation.”  
Conservation Tax Credit
The Water Resource Conservation and Development Incentives Act enacted in 1995 established a tax credit program to encourage water users to invest in (1) the construction of impoundments to use available surface water, thereby reducing their dependence on groundwater; (2) the conversion from groundwater use to surface water use; and (3) land leveling and water meters to conserve water use.
Landowners who install or restore water impoundments or water control structures of 20-acre feet or more are eligible for the conservation tax credit. Eligible structures must be designed for the purpose of storing water to be used primarily for agricultural, commercial, industrial, or recreational purposes.
The tax credit will be 50% of the cost of construction and installation or restoration. The amount of credit used for any taxable year may not exceed $18,000 per project and may be carried over for a maximum of 15 consecutive taxable years following the first year.
An application for a conservation tax credit must be submitted to the county conservation district where the work is taking place, then submitted to the Natural Resources Division for approval. The application must be approved before a taxpayer may begin construction of a project and claim credits. All projects must be maintained for a minimum of 10 years following issuance of the Certificate of Completion, or benefits will be subject to recapture. A 3% application fee, capped at $1,500, is required.  
In 2021, there was increased demand for the conservation tax credits. Sixty-one tax credit projects were approved compared to 57 in 2020 and 51 in 2019. Chris Colclasure, Director of the Natural Resources Division, said this increase in interest is promising for Arkansas.
“We are encouraged by the increased interest in the tax credit programs. These programs allow us to partner with landowners to address important natural resource concerns such as groundwater conservation so that we have a sustainable supply of water for all uses for future generations,” said Colclasure.
Wetland and Riparian Tax Credit
Established by the Arkansas legislature in 1996, the Arkansas Private Wetland Riparian Zone Creation and Restoration Incentive allows a credit against the tax imposed by the Arkansas Income Tax Act for any taxpayer engaged in the development or restoration of wetlands and riparian zones. The program is designed to encourage private landowners to restore and enhance existing wetlands and riparian zones and, when possible, create new wetlands and riparian zones. According to Colclasure, these actions benefit the landowner and the state.
“With landowners receiving tax credits for increasing and improving wetlands and riparian zones, this is a win-win for private landowners and the state of Arkansas,” Colclasure said. “These conservation measures will provide flood control, water quality improvement, fish and wildlife habitat, and ground water recharge.”
The amount of eligible credit for wetland and riparian zone creation and restoration will be equal to the project cost incurred but will not exceed $50,000. Only actual costs to the taxpayer will be considered for tax credit, and an enrollment fee of 3% of the total approved tax credit is required. The projects must be completed within three years from the Certificate of Approval date.
Over the last three years, more than 40 landowners have taken advantage of the wetland and riparian tax credit. In 2019 and 2020, 11 individuals were approved, while in 2021 a total of 20 projects were approved. More than $1,600,000 in tax credits were approved in the last three years.
To learn more about current tax credit programs, visit the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division webpage here. Additional information is also provided on the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administrations website here.
Arkansas Department of Agriculture Announces
Arkansas Grown GAP/GHP Certification Cost Share Program
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce that fruit and vegetable producers may now apply for Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) certification cost reimbursement through the Arkansas Grown GAP/GHP Certification Cost Share Program. Funding for the program is provided through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Applications for reimbursement are for the time period between January 1 and December 1, 2022, and are due to the Department by December 15, 2022. Reimbursement is available for 50% of inspection costs up to $1,000. Applications are available here.

The GAP/GHP verification program is a voluntary program offered to the produce industry to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packaged, handled, and stored to minimize food safety risks. GAP/GHP certification allows producers to expand their customer base and ensures consumers are purchasing safe foods.

“Anything we can do to help offset costs for Arkansas producers is a win for agriculture, our state’s largest industry,” says Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the USDA on this program to provide important cost-share assistance to an expanding sector of Arkansas’s agricultural industry,” says Ward.

For questions about the application or the reimbursement process, contact Karen Reynolds at 501-529- 1630 or
27,803 Feral Hogs Removed by Feral Hog Eradication Task Force
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to report that 27,803 feral hogs have been removed from the state of Arkansas since January 2020 by members of the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force. 
The Feral Hog Eradication Task Force was initially 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. The Task Force is made up of 21 federal and state agencies and non-government organizations. A list of Task Force members can be found here.
The feral hog removal efforts over the past two years have assisted more than 650 individual private landowners and public properties across the state of Arkansas, including within the Buffalo River Watershed. Members of the Task Force have also hosted eight landowner workshops to raise awareness of the damages caused by feral hogs and available resources to assist with removal.
“The feral hog removals by the Task Force members reflect the continued collaboration and commitment of our county, state, and federal partners to address and minimize damages associated with feral hogs across the state,” said J.P. Fairhead, Feral Hog Eradication Program Coordinator. “The removals and the feedback received from landowners indicate that the efforts of Task Force members and landowners have led to population and damage reduction in areas where our county, state, and federal resources are allocated.”
Feral hogs are an invasive species that are especially destructive to agricultural crops, native wildlife, and young domestic livestock. Feral hogs are found in 39 states and may carry at least 45 bacteria, diseases, and parasites, including Pseudorabies and Brucellosis. Nationally, feral hogs are estimated to cause more than $2 billion in damages each year. In Arkansas, the latest survey by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that feral swine cause at least $41 million in agricultural damages every year, including $34 million in damages to soybeans, corn, cotton, wheat, hay, pecans, and rice, and $7.3 million in damages to livestock.
Landowners experiencing feral hog damage are encouraged to call USDA Wildlife Services at (501) 835-2318 for assistance. Landowners are encouraged to report feral hog removals through the Survey123 reporting application here.  
Additional feral hog information and resources can be found here.
The Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force removed 12,699 feral hogs in 2021. Task force members have removed 27,803 feral hogs since January 2020.
Individuals from the public reported the removal of 3,704 feral hogs through the Survey 123 app in 2021.
Cogongrass Stakeholder Meeting
A Cogongrass Stakeholder meeting will be held virtually on March 4 at 1:00 p.m. Cogongrass is a highly invasive perennial grass that is a serious pest in the Gulf Coast states. It can adversely impact pastures, forests, and tree plantations. A population was identified in Phillips County in 2021, and was treated with herbicides. The Cogongrass Stakeholder meeting is to raise awareness of this invasive species and will also educate stakeholders on how to identify, how to report, control and treatment, and impact on Arkansas and Industries.

This meeting is being presented by the Cogongrass Work Group which consists of the following Agencies: Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Department of Transportation, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture-Extension Services, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, and USDA/APHIS/PPQ.

More information can be found here.
Arson Investigation
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Law Enforcement team investigated a series of fires in Arkadelphia that led to the arrest of the suspect who later confessed to the crime. A Class C felony charge was filed by prosecutors on February 15, 2022. The fires, on property owned by private residents or the Corps of Engineers, were contained by the Caddo Valley Fire Department, the Department’s Forestry Division, and the Corps of Engineers.

The Department’s Law Enforcement officers investigate agricultural crimes that affect any part of Arkansas’s diverse agricultural industry and enforce the laws and regulations of all agencies under the Department. Investigators work with state and local law enforcement to investigate crimes and assist with prosecution as needed. Agricultural crime complaints may be submitted to the Department’s Law Enforcement team here.

Celebrating Black History Month
Watson & J.V Hill Farm

Watson Hill (pictured), who was sold into slavery at four years of age, recognized his dream of becoming a landowner and farmer by purchasing land in Hot Spring County, Arkansas in 1890 and establishing Watson Hill Farm. The farm, now known as Watson & J.V. Hill Farm, stayed in the Hill family and was purchased by Jarvis V. Hill in the 1970s. The farm is currently operated by his son, Stanley L. Hill, and was recognized as an Arkansas Century Farm in 2012.
2022 Arkansas Grown

Poultry is the largest sector of Arkansas agriculture with over 6,500 farms in the state and an economic impact of more than $4.4 billion. Because of this industry's importance to the state's economy, the Poultry Federation is working to support poultry research and youth programs through the Poultry Federation Allied Industries Scholarship Program. This program awarded $166,000 in scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year to a total of 40 undergraduate and 21 graduate students in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Read about the Poultry Federation Allied Industries Scholarship Program in the latest edition of the Arkansas Grown magazine! With more than 25 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.
Photo Features
2022 NASDA Winter Policy Meeting
United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack and Senator John Boozman were in attendance at the 2022 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Policy Conference where they addressed attendees. Pictured are Secretary Ward, who serves as secretary-treasurer of the NASDA board, and other conference participants with Secretary Vilsack and Senator Boozman. Commissioners, secretaries, and directors of agriculture from across the country gathered with federal agencies, congressional leaders, and industry stakeholders to talk about pressing agricultural and food policy issues.
Pictured with Sen. Boozman and Sec. Ward are Bruce Kettler (Director - Indiana State Department of Agriculture) Doug Miyamoto (Director - Wyoming Department of Agriculture), and Richard Ball (Commissioner - New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets).

With the dry weather this past month, the Forestry Division has been busy suppressing wildfires across the state. Pictured on the left is a wildfire in Clark County that covered 168 acres. Pictured on the right is the Fulton County Forestry crew checking lines on a wildfire in their county.
New Resources, Trainings, & Opportunities
New Resources from the National Agricultural Law Center

Considering Carbon: Understanding the Legalities of Soil Carbon Sequestration Contracts

A number of programs exist that offer to pay farmers to increase the carbon levels in their soil through no-till, strip-till, and cover cropping. In exchange for implementing these practices, farmers agree to sell the carbon credits generated on their fields to third-party brokers, who in turn sell those credits to industries looking to offset their emissions and reduce their carbon footprints. These soil carbon contracts are unlike other contracts signed by farmers and ranchers, and present new challenges and questions. 

Todd J. Janzen, with Janzen Schroeder Agricultural Law LLC, will present at 11 a.m. on March 23. Those interested can register here.


2022 Arkansas Grazing Conference Registration Open
The Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition (AGLC) is now accepting registrations for the 2022 Arkansas Grazing Conference. At this conference, livestock producers and land managers are invited to join in learning and discussing best management practices for pasture management and grazing.

Those interested in participating in the conference will have three opportunities to attend. The conference program is being presented at three separate locations across the state for the convenience of attendees on March 2, 3, and 4. The registration fee to attend is $40. Attendees also have the option to purchase an AGLC membership, which includes a complimentary conference registration, for $35. Lunch will be provided during the event.

For more information on the 2022 Arkansas Grazing Conference including speaker slate and topics, program agenda, schedule, and locations, and how to register, visit
Produce Safety Grower Training

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule is the first federally regulated standard for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding fresh produce. If you grow produce, join the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service's Produce Safety Team on March 1 for a training with information on best practices, risk management, and regulatory requirements. Growers who attend the training will receive a certificate of completion. Registration is $35 per person, which includes the training, manual, materials, lunch, and snacks.

Those interested can register online here.
41st Annual Community Economic Development and Winter Farmers Virtual Conference

Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation is hosting their 41st Annual Community Economic Development and Winter Farmers Virtual Conference on February 24 & 25, 2022 from 8:30am – 1:30pm. The conference will offer opportunities for participants to receive guidance and information for housing, beginning farming, access to business capital, conservation programs, farm financing and grant programs, along with other USDA equity and equality program service delivery.

Details and registration can be found here.
Spring Registration Open for Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program

Spring registration for the Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program just opened in Arkansas. Through this hands-on science lesson, students will learn about backyard ecology and plant life cycles by growing colossal cabbages and reaping hefty harvests. Students also vie for “Best in State” bragging rights — with a $1,000 scholarship awarded to one student in each participating state.
Participating in the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program is completely free! Cabbages will be delivered by mail during your selected shipping window. After you’ve signed up, Bonnie Plants will follow up with instructions for planting, growing, and harvesting, along with other useful resources to help students learn and succeed along the way.

Registration and more information can be found here.
USDA Updates
USDA Farm Service Agency 2022 Virtual Outreach Meetings

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA) has finalized their virtual outreach meetings for 2022. These virtual trainings serve as a way for USDA-FSA to get vital program information, such as deadlines, eligibility requirements, and more into the hands of producers.

Thursday, March 3, 10:00-11:00 A.M. – Safety Net and Disaster Programs
Agriculture Risk Coverage-County (ARC-CO), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Non-Insured Crop Assistance Program (NAP). Virtual meeting here . For audio only call: 161 613 804#.
Thursday, May 26, 10:00-11:00 A.M. – Youth Loan Program
Special Speaker – Wes Ward, Secretary, Arkansas Dept. of Agriculture. Virtual meeting here. For audio only call 202-650-0123 and enter code: 307 597 909#.
Thursday, June 23, 10:00 – 11:00 A.M. – COC Election Overview
Special Speaker - Doris Washington, State Executive Director – Farm Service Agency. Committee members are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA. Learn more about how you can participate. Virtual meeting here . For audio only call 202-650-0123 and enter code 783 560 535#. 
Thursday, August 25, 10:00 11:00 A.M. – Conservation Reserve Program
Special Speaker: Shane Booth, District Forester, Arkansas Department of Agriculture – Forestry Division. Find out how these programs work to address a large number of farming and ranching related conservation issues. Virtual meeting here.  For audio only call 202-650-0123 and enter code 980 012 680#.
Thursday, September 29, 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. – Beginning Farmer and Heir Property Education
Special Speaker: Rusty Rumley, Senior Staff Attorney, U of A Division of Agriculture. Learn how to obtain a farm number and Heir Property documentation needed. Virtual meeting here. For audio only call 202-650-0123 and enter code 740 167 816#.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's
Annual Report is Available

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report provides information about the Department and how it served Arkansas agriculture, our state's largest industry, from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Click here to view the 2021 Annual Report.
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.
Find a career in Arkansas's largest industry!

Are you passionate about Arkansas agriculture? With many new and exciting career opportunities, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is looking for highly motivated individuals to bring their passion for the Arkansas agriculture industry to the workplace. Check out our available positions today on the AR Careers website by searching for "agriculture" or "natural resources."
Arkansas AG Facts: FFA Week
  • FFA Week is a yearly tradition dating back to 1948 and is always the week of George Washington's birthday (February 22nd). 
  • During the week, FFA chapters across the nation celebrate program success, recognize invaluable supporters, and connect with their communities.
  • In addition to the celebration days, FFA week also includes a National Days of Service campaign where students across the nation give back to their communities. 
  • During the week, FFA also partners with Tractor Supply Company to raise Grants for Growing funds so that FFA chapters can apply for up to $5,000 for growing their classroom, chapter, or ag awareness. 
  • Check with your local FFA chapter to see how you can participate, donate, volunteer, or support. 
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