Governor Sanders Orders Chinese State-Owned Company To Divest Agricultural Land Ownership in Arkansas

On October 17, Governor Sanders announced that Syngenta, a Chinese state-owned company, must give up its land holdings in Arkansas. Earlier this year, Governor Sanders signed Act 636 into law, which banned certain foreign parties from owning agricultural land in Arkansas. Although numerous states have similar laws, Arkansas is the first state to take enforcement action. Syngenta owns approximately 160 acres of land in Craighead County, which they have been ordered to divest within two years. Attorney General Tim Griffin has also imposed a civil penalty of $280,000 for failure to timely report foreign ownership. Learn more here.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture Hosts Delegations from Thailand and Vietnam for Inbound Trade Mission

On October 15-17, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture hosted delegations from Thailand and Vietnam for the first stop on National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)’s inbound trade mission. The trade mission is the result of funding received by NASDA from the United States Department of Agriculture Emerging Markets Program. This program exists to assist various organizations in the promotion of U.S. agricultural product exports to countries that have the potential to be viable commercial markets.

NASDA has identified Southeast Asia as a key focus area, including target markets in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. This region consists of some of the fastest growing markets in the world and is a global hub for trade and manufacturing. NASDA has conducted several trade missions to countries in Southeast Asia this year, but the recent visit to Arkansas is the first inbound mission.

During the trip, delegates traveled throughout the state to learn about Arkansas’s largest industry. The mission visited operations that are both essential to Arkansas’s agricultural success and representative of the diversity within the industry.

On Monday morning, the mission traveled south to tour McGehee Producers Gin Inc., a producer-owned gin that provides services for cotton farmers in Arkansas and surrounding states. In the afternoon, delegates visited the Port of Little Rock, which provides logistic channels for international companies. The port is within proximity of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, multiple railroads, Interstates 30 and 40, and a year-round navigable channel. Following Monday’s tours, Ben E. Keith Foods provided a customized dinner featuring Arkansas products, a common theme throughout the visit.

Delegates enjoyed multiple meals that highlighted Arkansas agriculture. Eggs, one of Arkansas’s top commodities in cash receipts, were featured at breakfasts and provided through a sponsorship from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Egg and Poultry Section.

Tuesday focused on rice and how the work of producers and researchers has led to Arkansas contributing over half of the U.S. rice production each year. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture (UADA) Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC) in Stuttgart proved to be a great place to start. The RREC is one of the oldest and highly regarded rice research centers in the world and focuses on best practices for sustainable rice production for Arkansas producers. Delegates heard from Jarrod Hardke, UADA extension agronomist and representatives from Riceland Foods and Producers Rice Mill.

Following the RREC tour, the mission visited Isbell Farms, a multi-generational family rice farm that has recently partnered with Origami Sake, Arkansas’s first sake brewery. This partnership is an example of the innovation that continues to advance Arkansas as a national leader in agriculture. At the visit, delegates toured the rice mill and tasted Arkansas-grown and made sake. The final stop of the day was at Bruce Oakley, Inc., a diverse commodity trading, distribution, and transportation company with a global customer base.

The mission’s visit to Arkansas ended with a dinner in Little Rock where representatives from the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, Arkansas Beef Council, USA Rice, Arkansas Forestry Association, National Ag Law Center, and Agricultural Council of Arkansas joined Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward and NASDA. Delegates had the opportunity to connect with producers and industry stakeholders while learning about one of the driving forces behind Arkansas agriculture’s consistent success – collaboration. 

Arkansas Department of Agriculture and University of Arkansas at Monticello Announce the 2023 Foresters for the Future Scholarship Recipient

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division and the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) have named Jackson Boles as the recipient of the 2023 Foresters for the Future Scholarship. The scholarship provides $4,000 per semester, for four years, to an incoming freshman pursuing a forestry degree at UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

Boles is a native of Waldron, Arkansas, and has had a longtime desire for a forestry career. His favorite activities have always been outdoors, and in high school he most enjoyed biology and environmental classes and was active in the environmental club. A visit with a career counselor pointed him in the direction of forestry because of his interest in nature and biology. After he graduated high school, he interned for the United States Forest Service, where he received training and certifications in prescribed fire, chainsaw use, and other forestry activities that bolstered his passion for pursuing a forestry degree.

“I feel very blessed for this opportunity, and I look forward to having an impact and working with my colleagues and professors to make the UAM forestry program an even better place,” said Boles. 

“Jackson has impressed us all with how well-formed his ambitions for a career in forestry are, “said Dr. Michael Blazier, Dean of the UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources. “He has a readily apparent affinity for working in forestry, already gained experience before coming to college working with the Forest Service and has goals for his education and career. It’s a privilege to help get Jackson started with the Foresters for the Future scholarship.”

Foresters for the Future Scholarship recipients will participate in a paid internship exploring the various sections of the Forestry Division annually throughout their college career. The internship will allow them to experience the many career paths within forestry and strengthen their skill set before they enter their respective field.

“The Foresters for the Future Scholarship is a wonderful way to provide support and introduce students to the wide range of careers in forestry,” said State Forester Kyle Cunningham. “We are excited to provide Jackson Boles with this opportunity and proud to collaborate with UAM."

The scholarship program was established by Act 399 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly. Learn more about the program here.

Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo Scheduled for January 2024

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture will partner with several Arkansas agricultural associations and organizations to host the second Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo on January 25-27, 2024, at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo is open to all parties interested in the Arkansas agriculture industry and will focus on farmers and producers who produce for the local food system. In January 2023, the Department hosted the first Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo with over 450 attendees and 70 vendors.

The three-day event will consist of workshops, speakers, off-site farm tours, networking opportunities, and a vendor trade show.

Partner organizations include the Arkansas State Horticulture Society, Arkansas Farmers Market Association, Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association, Arkansas Agritourism Association, Arkansas Association of Grape Growers, Arkansas Pecan Growers Association, Mid America Strawberry Growers Association, and the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Registration includes access to general sessions, workshops, and entrance to the expo. Opportunities for sponsorship and vendor booths are available. For more information, contact Beth Moore at [email protected].

Visit here to register and learn more about the Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo.

Governor Sanders Authorizes Deployment of Arkansas Wildland Firefighters to Assist Mississippi

Earlier this month, Governor Sanders authorized a crew of 10 wildland firefighters from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division to assist the State of Mississippi with their ongoing wildfire suppression efforts. Since August 1, the Mississippi Forestry Commission has responded to over 760 fires that have burned over 14,163 acres.

Due to extended drought in Mississippi, Forestry Division employees were mobilized as part of the South Central Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact. The compact enables participating state forestry agencies to send resources and personnel across state lines to suppress wildfires.

The 10-person crew is in Mississippi for a two-week period that began October 10. The primary role of the crew is to respond to and suppress new fires in Southern Mississippi. The Forestry Division also sent five dozers to assist in the wildfire response efforts.

"Forestry Division personnel have assisted both Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oregon this fire season," said State Forester Kyle Cunningham. "I commend our fire management team and wildland fire crews for their service to help suppress wildfires occurring in our region."

Governor Sanders authorized the Forestry Division to send wildland firefighter crews to the Tiger Island Fire in Louisiana from September 8 to 23 and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Oregon from August 7 to 27.

2023 Rural Fire Show Celebrates Arkansas Firefighters

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division hosted the 2023 Rural Fire Show this past weekend, with over 733 attendees representing 153 fire departments. Photos from the event are available here.

The Rural Fire Show is a free event held in appreciation for Arkansas firefighters and their families to honor the service and protection they provide throughout the state. The event included training opportunities, equipment demonstrations, resources and information, networking opportunities, and a catered lunch sponsored by the Arkansas Rural and Volunteer Firefighters Association. Throughout the event, 72 door prizes were given away.

“We have more than 850 rural fire departments that partner with the Forestry Division when we fight wildland fires,” said State Forester Kyle Cunningham. “We are proud to host this annual event with ARVFA to show our appreciation for those firefighters and their families.”

“This year’s fire show was a huge success, thanks to our staff, vendors, and Arkansas firefighters,” said Kathryn Mahan-Hooten, Rural Fire Protection Administrator for the Forestry Division. “This is just one small way we can show Arkansas firefighters how thankful we are for the work they do.”

Learn more about the Forestry Division’s Rural Fire Protection Program here.

Steve Cobb Named 2023 Southeastern Sunbelt Ag Expo Farmer of the Year

Steve Cobb, of Lake City, Arkansas, has been selected as the overall winner of the Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award for 2023. Cobb Farms is a partnership enterprise that began over fifty years ago in Craighead County. Today, on a total of 4,500 acres (2,500 rented and 2,000 owned), it grows row crops, produce, and show pigs. Read the full release here.

Photo credit: Sunbelt Ag Expo

Feral Hog Eradication Task Force: September 2023 Update

The Feral Hog Eradication Task Force continued its efforts in September 2023 and removed 1,497 feral hogs across Arkansas. Additionally, Arkansas residents reported the removal of 157 feral hogs. Learn more about the Task Force and its efforts here.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza - Increasing Biosecurity

The fall migration of wild waterfowl is underway, which means that cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza are beginning to occur in commercial and backyard flocks. The virus continues to be a serious threat to poultry and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is urging all poultry owners to institute high biosecurity measures.

Learn more about HPAI here and report unusual illnesses or deaths in poultry by calling the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Division Disease Hotline at (501) 823-1746.

2023 Arkansas Grown Magazine

Water, rice, and skill: these ingredients combine to produce a delicious Japanese beverage known as sake. Arkansas native Ben Bell has spent 15 years working to perfect the beverage, leading to the creation of Arkansas's first sake brewery, Origami Sake.

Read more about Origami Sake in the 2023 edition of Arkansas Grown. You can view the magazine online here, or find a physical copy at various locations around the state! With more than 25 features about Arkansas agriculture, there's something for everyone.

Photo Features

The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission met on October 20 at the Arkansas State Fair. Commissioners heard updates on animal health, livestock markets, laboratory services, and various Department programs.

The 83rd Annual Arkansas State Fair kicked off on October 13 and will continue through October 22. If you are planning a trip, stop by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's booth in the

Hall of Industry!

The Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) met on October 13 at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. The AFC heard updates from Department staff and partners on the Foresters of the Future Scholarship, Baucum Nursery, pine health, wildfire response, and the Registered

Forester Committee.

On October 10, Secretary Ward joined Senator John Boozman and Hallie Shoffner to discuss the importance of Arkansas agriculture at the Rotary Club of Little Rock. Pictured (from left): Secretary Wes Ward; Senator John Boozman; Hallie Shoffner, farmer and CEO of SFR Seed; Dr. Deacue Fields, University of Arkansas System Vice President for Agriculture; and Andrew Grobmyer, executive vice president of the Agricultural Council of Arkansas.

New Resources, Trainings, & Opportunities

New Resources from the National Agricultural Law Center

Introducing The Feed:

The body of laws, policies, and regulations affecting agriculture is vast and fast-changing, but the National Agricultural Law Center has introduced The Feed, a biweekly newsletter aimed at keeping industry professionals up to date.

Content is written by research attorneys but is designed for non-attorneys as well. Find recent issues of The Feed here.

Upcoming Webinars:


Recent Blog Posts:

University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Seeking Input from Sheep and Goat Producers

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture (UADA) is looking to evaluate the state’s sheep and goat industry in an effort to make improvements. To do so, extension specialists are requesting input from sheep and goat producers across Arkansas.

UADA has developed an online survey for Arkansas sheep and goat producers that will close on October 30. The survey takes about 10-20 minutes to complete, and all responses will remain anonymous. Take the survey here.

UADA will also host interactive webinars on the following dates:

  • October 23 at 7 p.m.
  • October 26 at 3 p.m.

Learn more and join the webinar here.

Dam Safety Workshop for Owners and Operators

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Division is hosting a free, one-day dam safety workshop designed to provide practical, straightforward information on topics of importance to anyone who owns or operates a dam. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and network with state dam safety officials and other dam owners. The workshop will be held Tuesday, October 24, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Horseshoe Bend Municipal Recreation Improvement District Clubhouse in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

Find more information here. To register, contact Whit Montague at (501) 628-3969 or [email protected].

Dates Set for 2023 Fall Abandoned Pesticide Disposal Collection

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has set the following dates for abandoned pesticide disposal collections:

  • Wednesday, November 1: Craighead County
  • Simplot - 7997 Hwy. 18, Lake City, Arkansas 72437
  • Thursday, November 2: Poinsett County
  • 751 North East Street, Harrisburg, Arkansas 72432
  • Friday, November 3: Mississippi County
  • Nutrien Ag - 2096 West State Hwy. 158, Manila, Arkansas 72442

All collection events will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Inventory forms, found here, should be turned into the host county extension or Farm Bureau office prior to collection. Please contact Brandi Reynolds at (501) 219-6356 or Tracy Eades at (501) 219-6314 with questions.

Agri-Food Innovation Summit to be Held November 2-3

National and state leaders in agriculture and food innovation and entrepreneurship will gather in Fayetteville on November 2-3 for the Arkansas Agri-Food Innovation Summit, a first-of-its-kind event spotlighting the federal funding opportunities that can drive industry transformation. The event is free and open to food and agriculture professionals and students. Learn more and register here.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture's
Annual Report

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report provides information about the Department and how it served Arkansas agriculture, our state's largest industry, from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. Click here to view the 2022 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.

Ag Facts: Arkansas Pork Month

  • Pork production consistently ranks among Arkansas's top 10 agricultural commodities.
  • Arkansas has 1,021 farms that produce pork with 797 farms reporting sales.
  • In 2022, Arkansas produced more than 96 million pounds of pork valued at $72 million dollars.
  • The average American eats approximately 52.4 pounds of pork annually.
  • Pork is a good source of protein and other nutrients, including thiamin, selenium, and zinc.
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The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.