2023 Farm Bill: Perspectives from the Natural State
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a field hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill in Jonesboro this morning. The hearing, titled "2023 Farm Bill: Perspectives from the Natural State," featured two panels consisting of agricultural producers, industry stakeholders and rural community supporters from Arkansas. A full list of witnesses for today's hearing can be found here.

Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, said this hearing will provide important context from those in relevant fields.

"The best solutions come from the ground up. We have invited some of Arkansas's top experts in their subject matter areas to testify, and I believe what they share with us at the hearing will greatly benefit the Committee as we move forward with the farm bill process," said Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Farmers Market Week in Arkansas

Governor Hutchinson proclaimed June 12-18, 2022 as Farmers Market Week in Arkansas. On June 14, Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward, along with Arkansas Farmers Market Association members, local growers, and other industry stakeholders, celebrated at the St. Joseph Center Farm Stand in North Little Rock. At the event, Secretary Ward presented the proclamation to Jeremy Adams, executive director of the Arkansas Farmers Market Association.

“Agriculture is so incredibly important in the state of Arkansas,” Secretary Ward said. “It’s the state’s largest industry, with over $19 billion in economic impact every year. It’s certainly an honor for us and for the department to represent Governor Hutchinson and declare Farmers Market Week in the state of Arkansas.”

There are more than 112 farmers markets in Arkansas and direct-to-consumer sales in the state are valued at more than $9.2 million. Additionally, access to healthy foods is a priority of the Healthy Active Arkansas Initiative to reduce obesity rates in the State of Arkansas, and through initiatives like these, Arkansas farmers markets have nearly doubled in the last decade.

Read more about Arkansas farmers markets here. Find an Arkansas farmers market near you at here. Find pictures from the event here.
Arkansas Blackberry Month
Governor Hutchinson proclaimed June 2022 as Arkansas Blackberry Month. To celebrate, Secretary Wes Ward attended the Arkansas Blackberry Grower's Association's summer meeting at the University of Arkansas Fruit Research Station in Clarksville. Attendees heard research updates from University of Arkansas Extension Specialists, toured blackberry research trials, and participated in a blackberry taste test.

At the meeting, Secretary Ward presented the Governor's proclamation to the board of the Growers Association and discussed the importance of the blackberry industry to Arkansas and its economy. The economic value of the Arkansas blackberry industry generates an estimated $10 million annually and is part of the diversification practices by many of Arkansas's full-time farmers.

Learn more about blackberry research in Arkansas here. Learn more about the blackberry industry's contribution to Arkansas here.
Arkansas Dairy Month
On June 15, Governor Hutchinson, Secretary Ward, and industry stakeholders gathered at the State Capitol to celebrate Arkansas Dairy Month. The governor spoke on the importance of the dairy industry, and agriculture as a whole, to the state of Arkansas.

Arkansas dairy farmers produce 60,000,000 pounds of milk per year from 5,000 milk cows. This averages to 12,000 pounds of milk per cow on 30 licensed dairy farms valued at $12.9 million. The Direct Economic Impact of dairy products in Arkansas is $2.7 billion, accounting for 9,983 jobs and $429 million in wages.

Learn more about Arkansas dairy here. Find pictures from the event here.
Arkansas Fire Policy Forum
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment held the Arkansas Fire Policy Forum at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension State Office in Little Rock. At the forum, attendees heard speakers present on every aspect of prescribed fire in Arkansas. This included benefits of prescribed fire, best practices, risk reduction, and much more.

The forum featured speakers from a variety of organizations including the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Health, the U.S. Forest Service, private industry, and more.

Learn more about the importance of prescribed fire in Arkansas here.
University of Arkansas Extension Service Reminds
Beekeepers to Keep Hives Hydrated
As temperatures across the state rise, Jon Zawislak, extension expert in bees and urban entomology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is reminding beekeepers and homeowners that pollinators need water, too.

“Bees may be able to get sufficient water from the nectar they drink to get by, but they are often found drinking water from other sources in the summer,” Zawislak said. “Honey bees particularly need extra water because they use it to cool their hives in the summertime."

For homeowners, Zawislak recommends leaving a dish of water out for bees. However, because bees require a place to sit while taking a drink, Zawislak says a container filled with gravel or pieces of wood should be provided as well.

It's also important to remember that during warmer months, bees will visit swimming pools and hot tubs when there are no other water sources. For this reason, it's important to be mindful when not wearing shoes.

Read more about summertime pollinator care here.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is Hiring!
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.

Visit arcareers.arkansas.gov or check out our Facebook pages for open positions in Shared Services, Forestry, Livestock and Poultry, Plant Industries, and Natural Resources!
2022 Arkansas Grown
The Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition (AGLC) works to help farmers and ranchers improve grazing management systems on their land. From basic and simplistic changes, to complex and regimented practices, the AGLC helps producers find the system that works for them. As a part of a new strategic vision at AGLC, the organization has launched a membership campaign aimed at recruiting land managers in 2022.

Read more about the AGLC's new vision in the 2022 edition of Arkansas Grown. You can view the magazine online here, or find a physical copy at various locations around the state.
Photo Features
Altheimer Fire Department in Jefferson County received a 2002 Chevy Silverado from the Forestry Division’s Rural Fire Protection - Firefighter Property (FFP) Program. Pictured are Altheimer Chief Eddie Anderson and crew.
Forestry Division Rangers Chuck Jackson (far left) and Les Miller (far right) presented Rural Fire Protection grant kits to a Conway County Volunteer Fire Department.
Miles Goggans (left) received the District Tree Farm award from District Forester Trey Franks (right).
Members of the Forestry Division are assisting the city of Trumann with cleanup related to the December 2021 storms.
Staff from the Forestry Division recently traveled to Greenville, South Carolina to attend the Southern Group of State Foresters Annual Conference. At the conference, the Urban & Community Forestry Committee participated in a site visit highlighting how the city of Greenville converted a six-lane overpass and polluted river into a greenspace, drawing residents and tourists to the river that flows by Falls Park on the Reedy.
New Resources, Trainings, & Opportunities
Cotton Sustainability Field Day

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is hosting a Cotton Sustainability Field Day on June 22 at the Judd Hill Foundation Farm near Trumann. The field day will feature discussion on why sustainability is important not only to cotton growers, but to the brands that use American-grown cotton and their consumers.

The field day will begin with registration at 8 a.m. Field tours will highlight soil and water conservation research and field-scale soil health demonstrations will begin at 9 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP.

Find more information on the field day and how to RSVP here.
USDA Updates
USDA to Allow Producers to Request Voluntary Termination
of Conservation Reserve Program Contract
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants who are in the final year of their CRP contract to request voluntary termination of their CRP contract following the end of the primary nesting season for fiscal year 2022. Participants approved for this one-time, voluntary termination will not have to repay rental payments, a flexibility implemented this year to help mitigate the global food supply challenges caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors. USDA also announced additional flexibilities for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). 

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is mailing letters to producers with expiring acres that detail this flexibility and share other options, such as re-enrolling sensitive acres in the CRP Continuous signup and considering growing organic crops. Producers will be asked to make the request for voluntary termination in writing through their local USDA Service Center

Read more here.
NASS to reach out to Arkansas producers on 2022 crops, stocks, 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 1,700 producers across Arkansas to determine crop acreage and stock levels as of June 1, 2022. In addition, NASS will collect information from farmers and ranchers from randomly selected land area segments across the state.

Producers can respond to the June Agricultural Survey online here, by phone, or through 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. Producers will be asked to provide information on crop acreage, grain stocks, livestock inventory, land values, and value of sales.
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 June 30, 2022. Survey data also contribute 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 at nass.usda.gov/Publications/. For more information, call the NASS Delta Regional Field Office at (800) 327-2970.
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, 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's 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#.
NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Proposals
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced approximately $300,000 in funding available through the state Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies within Arkansas.

State, tribal, and local governmental entities, non-governmental organizations, and individuals may apply. Project proposals must be submitted by June 8, 2022 and should demonstrate the use of innovative technologies or approaches to address a natural resource concern. Project results are expected to improve and create conservation technologies, management systems and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems).

Selected applicants may receive grants up to 50 percent of the total project cost. Individual grant awards may not exceed $75,000 in FY 2022. Applicants must provide non-federal matching funds for at least 50 percent of the project cost. Of the non-federal matching funds, a minimum of 25 percent must be from cash contributions; the remaining 25 percent may come from in-kind contribution.

Find more information and application details here.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture's
Annual Report

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.
Arkansas AG Facts: Arkansas Blackberry Month
  • 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 $10 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.
Upcoming Agriculture Events
Opt-in to receive email notifications (board meeting notices, newsletters, etc.)
from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.