Arkansas Flood Tour

Flooding has been devastating for farmers throughout the state of Arkansas, with many areas dealing with over three feet of water in the last few months. On June 11, key leaders and staff visited Desha County to see flooding damage and visit with local farmers and officials, including Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward, along with members of the state legislature, including Rep. Mark McElroy and Senator Ben Gilmore, and Arkansas Farm Bureau (ArFB) leaders such as ArFB President Rich Hillman.

The day began with a press conference and community discussion at the Dumas Community Center. Those attending also visited flooded farms and facilities to access parts of the widespread damage. The day concluded with another community meeting in McGehee. The damage throughout the state has affected a variety of producers from row crop to aquaculture.

USDA reminds producers that it’s critical to keep accurate records to document damage or loss and to report losses to your local USDA Service Center as soon as possible.

To find out what assistance is available to those impacted by flooding, visit or a local USDA Service Center.
Meeting to Discuss Recent Damage from Weather to Crops Slated for Rowher

Farmers who suffered flooding and other damage from heavy rain and winds will be able to get their post-flood production questions answered by University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture agronomists and specialists Monday, June 21, at the Dumas Community Center.

The meeting is being organized by Rohwer Research Station Director Larry Earnest. His research station and plots saw more than 19 inches of rain in 48 hours last week.

The agenda will include the following; all are with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture unless otherwise specified.

· Welcome — Larry Earnest, director Rohwer Research Station
· Acres affected — Vic Ford, associate VP-ag/natural resources-extension
· Cotton — Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist.
· Soybeans — Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist
· Corn — Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist
· Rice — Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist
· Soil fertility — Trent Roberts, associate professor – soil fertility/soil testing
· Water management — Chris Henry, associate professor/extension engineer
· Weeds — Tommy Butts, extension weed scientist
· Insects — Extension entomologists Gus Lorenz, Ben Thrash and Nick Bateman.
· Crop insurance — Adam Frazer, Delta Crop Insurance.
Following the speakers, the floor will be open for a question-and-answer period.

Registration opens at 4:30 p.m. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. Plans are being made to provide a live stream of this event.
Arkansas Supreme Court Issues Stay of Temporary Restraining Order on Dicamba Rule

On May 21, 2021, the Pulaski County Circuit Court, 16th Division, entered a temporary restraining order (TRO) delaying implementation of the 2021 amendments to the State Plant Board’s Pesticide Classification rules – specifically known as the dicamba rule. On June 7, 2021, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a Stay of the Circuit Court’s Order.

The legal effect of the Supreme Court’s Stay is that the State Plant Board’s recently adopted emergency rule amendments regarding the use and application of dicamba are again in effect. Main points of the emergency rule include:

  1. In-crop application of dicamba shall be prohibited after June 30.
  2. A one-mile buffer in all directions must be maintained between the fields where dicamba is applied and research stations operated by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
  3. A half-mile buffer in all directions must be maintained in all directions between the fields where dicamba is applied and fields where certified organic crops and commercially grown specialty crops (defined as at least 1,000 plants or average annual sales of $25,000 for three years) are grown.
  4. A quarter-mile buffer must be maintained in all directions between fields where dicamba is applied and fields where soybeans and cotton that are not genetically engineered to resist dicamba are grown.
Arkansas Hosts the 2021 Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture Conference

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture hosted the 2021 Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) Conference June 5-9. SASDA strives to improve American agriculture through the development and promotion of sound public policy and agriculture-related businesses and programs, and to communicate the vital economic importance of agriculture. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward had the honor of serving as the 2020-2021 SASDA president.
SASDA includes members from: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The 2021 conference included updates and discussions on a range of issues, policies, and programs important to agriculture. Governor Hutchinson and members of Arkansas’s congressional delegation, including Senator John Boozman, Congressman Rick Crawford, Representative French Hill, and Representative Bruce Westerman, were able to join SASDA members and provided updates on a range of issues and policies important to agriculture. Harrison Pittman with the National Agricultural Law Center provided an overview of the latest agricultural and food law research and information.
The 2021 SASDA Conference would not have been possible without the generous contributions from sponsors. This year’s theme was “Authentic Arkansas,” and from the rice fields of the Arkansas delta to the top of Petit Jean mountain, attendees enjoyed several excursions that demonstrated why agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry. The outpouring of support throughout the whole state demonstrated to guests what true Arkansas hospitality looks like.
“It was an honor to serve as the 2020-2021 President of SASDA and host the 2021 SASDA meeting, in person in Little Rock,” said Secretary Ward. “We are incredibly proud of the agriculture industry here in our state and look forward to the many ways we will continue to contribute to SASDA in the coming years.”
At the close of the conference Secretary Ward passed the SASDA president's gavel on to Commissioner Kent Leonhardt of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. To learn more about the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture visit their page here.
USDA Seeks Feedback From Producers About 2021 Crops, Stocks, Inventories, and Values

During the next several weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct two major mid-year surveys, the June Agricultural Survey and the June Area Survey. The agency will contact nearly 1,600 producers across Arkansas to determine crop acreage and stock levels as of June 1, 2021.

“The June Agricultural Survey and the June Area Survey are two of the most important and well-known surveys NASS conducts,” explained Eugene Young, director of the NASS Delta Regional Office. “When growers respond to these surveys, they provide essential information that helps determine the expected acreage and supply of major commodities in the United States for the 2021 crop year. The results are used by farmers and ranchers, USDA, businesses, exporters, researchers, economists, policymakers, and others to inform a wide range of decisions.”

Growers can respond to the June Agricultural Survey online at, by phone, or mail. They will be asked to provide information on planted and harvested acreage, including acreage for biotech crops and grain stocks. For the June Area Survey, agency representatives will interview farm and ranch operators in randomly selected segments over the phone. Growers will be asked to provide information on crop acreage, grain stocks, livestock inventory, land values, and value of sales.

“NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents, by keeping all individual information confidential and publishing the data in aggregate form only to ensure that no operation or producer can be identified,” said Young. “We recognize that this is a hectic time for farmers, but the information they provide helps U.S. agriculture remain viable and capable. I urge them to respond to these surveys and thank them for their cooperation.”

NASS will analyze the survey information and publish the results in a series of USDA reports, including the annual Acreage and quarterly Grain Stocks reports to be released June 30, 2021. Survey data also contributes to NASS’s monthly and annual Crop Production reports, the annual Small Grains Summary, annual Farms and Land in Farms and Land Values reports, various livestock reports, including Cattle, Sheep and Goats, and Hogs and Pigs, and USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

These and all NASS reports are available here. For more information, call the NASS Delta Regional Field Office at (800) 327-2970.
Tyson Foods, Inc. Sets Net Zero Goal

Tyson Foods, Inc. has set a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its operations and supply chain by 2050.

The company joins a growing group of airlines, banks, software firms, and others taking corporate action in the face of a worsening climate crisis. Tyson released its latest 2020 sustainability report on Wednesday, detailing its progress and plans to reduce carbon emissions and water usage, among other efforts.

The move to "net zero" is an expansion of the company's earlier target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030. It was one of the first targets by a meat-producing company to be accepted by the Science Based Targets initiative. It's also consistent with the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In recent years, Tyson's sustainability reports have tracked the company's progress toward reaching its environmental goals, as well as animal welfare and workplace goals. To read more about their net-zero by 2050 goal visit their website.
USDA Announces Additional Aid to Ag Producers and Businesses in Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative

On June 15, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional aid to agricultural producers and businesses as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Earlier this year, Secretary Vilsack announced plans to use available pandemic assistance funds to address a number of gaps and disparities in previous rounds of aid. As part of the Pandemic Assistance initiative announced in March, USDA pledged to continue Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments and to provide aid to producers and businesses left behind. Implementation of the assistance announced today will continue within 60 days to include support to timber harvesters, biofuels, dairy farmers and processors, livestock farmers and contract growers of poultry, assistance for organic cost share, and grants for PPE.

“USDA is honoring its commitment to get financial assistance to producers and critical agricultural businesses, especially those left out or underserved by previous COVID aid,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These investments through USDA Pandemic Assistance will help our food, agriculture, and forestry sectors get back on track and plan for the future. Since January, USDA has provided more than $11 billion of assistance directly to producers and food and agriculture business.”

In March, USDA announced $6 billion in available funds through Pandemic Assistance to support a number of new programs or to modify existing efforts. The programming is planned for implementation within 60 days, which will continue to be focused on filling gaps in previous rounds of assistance and helping beginning, socially disadvantaged, and small and medium sized producers that need support most.

As the economy continues to gain strength after the Biden Administration’s historic vaccination and economic relief efforts, USDA is working with producers and agricultural businesses to ensure they have the resources and tools to thrive in 2021 and beyond. The funding associated with USDA Pandemic Assistance is meant to serve as a bridge from disruptions associated with the pandemic to longer-term investments to help build back a better food system. Through USDA’s Build Back Better initiative, USDA has already announced $5 billion in a mix of loans, grants, and innovative financing to make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds.

As USDA looks to long-term solutions to build back a better food system, the Department is committed to delivering financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions.

Since USDA rolled out the Pandemic Assistance initiative in March, the Department has announced approximately $6.8 billion in assistance to producers and agriculture entities through programming. To learn more about what assistance is available visit the website.
Arkansas Groundwater Report

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Division has released the 2020 Arkansas Groundwater Protection and Management Report.

The report provides a summary of groundwater protection and conservation programs administered by the Natural Resources Division during 2019 and 2020. The report also includes water-level monitoring and studies of water use trends in the state.

The groundwater report focuses exclusively on the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer and the Sparta Aquifer. Aquifer-wide water level data collected during the pre-irrigation period of spring 2020 had positive average change values for both aquifers when compared with spring data from 2019 and 2015. The complete report can be viewed here.
Arkansas Quality Wine Competition Makes its Debut

The Inaugural Arkansas Quality Wine (AQW) Competition was held May 19 at the Milo J. Schult Agricultural Research and Extension Center. The wine competition drew 52 entries from 8 of the state's 16 commercial wineries.

Expert wine judges from Arkansas and Texas evaluated sensory attributes such as color, aroma, flavor, and mouth feel. The wines also underwent further analysis, to look at characteristics such as alcohol, volatile acidity, and sulfur dioxide levels. After analysis, wines that earned gold or silver medals in the wine competition became eligible to carry the Arkansas Quality Wine seal.

Wines submitted to the competition had to be made with at least 90 percent Arkansas-grown grapes. More than 60 percent of the wines that were submitted earned a medal. The competition is part of AQW’s efforts to set quality standards for Arkansas-made wine, provide professional development for growers and winemakers, and entice consumers to taste the fruit of the state’s vines and their unique flavors.

The program was established last year as part of a project funded by a specialty crop block grant from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. To see the full list of winners visit here.
Feral Hog Workshop

The Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force is working to connect with landowners that face problems associated with feral hogs. The task force wants to know the main concerns of landowners when removing feral hogs from their property.

The meeting will address several topics including state and federal assistance, different methods of removal, and long-term goals associated with feral hog population management.

The tri-county meeting is limited to 100 people and will take place Wednesday, June 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Nature Center. A meal will be served and those interested in attending should register here or contact Ryan Farney at

More information about the Feral Hog Eradication Task Force and their resources can be found on our website.
USDA Announces Grants for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of up to $4 million for grants to support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects. USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production is accepting proposals for planning and innovation projects, and these grants are part of USDA’s broader efforts to support urban agriculture. 

USDA will accept applications on until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 30, 2021. 

A pre-recorded webinar is available to provide an overview of the grants’ purpose, project types, eligibility, and basic requirements for submitting an application. The webinar can be found here.   

Planning projects initiate or expand efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban areas and suburbs. Projects may target areas of food access, education, business and start-up costs for new farmers, urban agroforestry or food forests, and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.

Implementation projects accelerate existing and emerging models of urban, indoor, and other agricultural practices that serve multiple farmers. Projects will improve local food access and collaborate with partner organizations and may support infrastructure needs, emerging technologies, educational endeavors, and urban farming policy implementation.

This is the second year USDA offered this grant opportunity. Find more information about the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grants here.
2021 Arkansas Grown

Learn more about local food for local tables and Northwest Arkansas Food Systems 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.
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For the latest in Arkansas agriculture, be sure to follow us on social media! Links to our social media pages can be found here.
  • Arkansas currently has approximately 300 acres of blackberries in production.
  • The state has experienced a 25% increase in acres planted in blackberries over the last three years.
  • The economic value of the Arkansas blackberry industry generates an estimated $4 million annually.
  • The University of Arkansas Blackberry breeding program has developed and released 21 blackberry varieties.
  • Arkansas blackberries are planted globally and have led to the rapid expansion in blackberry as a commercial crop worldwide over the last 25 years.
  • The blackberry industry is part of the diversification practices by many of Arkansas’s full-time farmers, provides employment for many of our state’s citizens, and provides supplemental income for many rural families on a part-time basis.
  • Blackberries grown in Arkansas supply local markets such as farmers markets, local grocery stores, and U-Pick farms and are shipped to regional and national retail markets.
  • Blackberries are a healthful food high in antioxidants, their consumption enhances public health and well-being, and are enjoyed by Arkansans statewide.
  • Arkansas blackberries are grown in the Delta, Northwest, and Southeast regions of the state by producers that include commercial operations, family farms, research centers, and U-Pick farms.
  • Notable developments of the cultivars released from the UA Blackberry breeding program include thornless blackberries, fall producing blackberries (primocane fruiting), improved flavor, superior shipping quality of fruit, and improved yields.
  • Major blackberry cultivars grown in Arkansas include Ouachita, Natchez, Osage, Navaho, and Prime-Ark® Freedom, and all major blackberry cultivars grown in Arkansas were developed by the University of Arkansas Blackberry Breeding Program.
  • The Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association was founded in 2018 with 20 members, and has since grown to 50 members.
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