Avian Influenza Confirmed in Arkansas Commercial Poultry Flock; Producers Urged to Take Precautions

Testing has confirmed a case of avian influenza on an Arkansas poultry farm in Madison County. Following an investigation by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Livestock and Poultry Division in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services, the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory has confirmed poultry from this farm have tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI).


There is no public health concern, and avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and partner agencies, including the USDA, are working to contain the situation. Actions include sampling and quarantining nearby poultry flocks.


“We have taken immediate action to contain this disease and will continue to work with poultry growers, the industry, and our laboratory partners to protect against its spread,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “Arkansas poultry is safe to eat, and consumers can be confident in the safety of their food.”


“The farm is under quarantine to stop the spread of avian influenza to other flocks in the state,” said Arkansas State Veterinarian John Nilz.


Under the provisions of the Poultry Disease and Flock Condemnation Rule, which can be found here, it is prohibited to conduct the following actions within an affected area:

  • Exhibit poultry and domestic waterfowl.
  • Move poultry or domestic waterfowl.
  • Sell, barter, trade, auction, or give away poultry or domestic waterfowl at fairs, swap meets, auctions, flea markets, and similar events and locations.

An affected area is an area determined by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture of approximately 25 miles surrounding a flock with a confirmed case of HPAI. The boundaries of the affected area for the confirmed case in Madison County are Gateway (northernmost), Osage (easternmost), Combs (southernmost), and Harmon (westernmost).


Additionally, all free range and backyard poultry within an affected area, whether intended for commercial or noncommercial use, must be confined under cover or inside structures to prevent contamination from migratory birds. Backyard flock owners who have sick or unusual deaths in their flocks should email [email protected] or call (501) 823-1746.

Find more information on HPAI here.

Governor Sanders Proclaims November Arkansas Soybean Month

Each year Arkansas soybean farmers generate a substantial $2 billion to the state’s economy. This contribution enhances revenue and economic stability while creating jobs in various industries including transportation, processing, distribution and agriculture. In recognition of the impact on the state, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders proclaimed November as Arkansas Soybean Month.

“Soybeans are among Arkansas’s most valuable crops and are important to our economy and people,” said Governor Sanders. “As we honor Arkansas Soybean Month, I encourage every Arkansan to enjoy this product and appreciate soybean agriculture.”

Soybeans are grown in 41 of the state’s 75 counties, resulting in approximately 3 million acres of soybeans planted annually. Arkansas consistently ranks among the top 10 soybean-producing states in the nation. This year each acre of soybeans produced a record of 53 bushels per acre compared to 52 in 2022. Nearly half of the soybeans are earmarked for exportation.

“In the 2023 crop season, the Arkansas soybean industry achieved record yields,” said John Freeman, Desha County soybean producer and Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) Chairman. “This is a testament to our farmers’ unwavering commitment to not only their individual successes but the success of our state checkoff.”

Find recipes, tools, and information to help you celebrate Arkansas Soybean Month here. Learn more about the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board here.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture Accepting Applications for Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program 

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the new Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program. The goal of the new program to increase schools’ capacity to process and serve more specialty crops to students through cafeterias and other school feeding programs.

Applications will be accepted through December 8, 2023. This year, selected schools will receive grants of up to $5,000 to purchase equipment, improve school meal quality, and increase student consumption of specialty crops.

“School gardens and taste tests have proven to be valuable tools in teaching children about agriculture, nutrition, and a variety of skills,” said Jessica Chapman, Arkansas Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator. “The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to introduce the new Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program as another way to help schools start or expand on local procurement in their school cafeterias.”

This grant program is available to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. Schools will be required to submit a budget proposal to line out the equipment that will be purchased with this funding and how that equipment will increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria. Technical service is available to all grantees.

The application can be found here. Districts are welcome to apply for more than one campus.

This grant program was developed using funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to increase the production and consumption of specialty crops in schools. Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, floriculture, and nursery crops.

For more information on the Arkansas Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program, contact Jessica Chapman at [email protected]

2023 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest Winners Announced at Arkansas Farm to School Month Proclamation Ceremony

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. The proclamation was celebrated on October 26 at Forest Park Elementary School in Little Rock as part of nationwide efforts to connect schools, early childhood education sites, and other organizations with farms to bring local, healthy food to children.


At the Arkansas Farm to School Month celebration, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas presented awards to winners of the 2023 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest. The winners are as follows:

Best Start-Up School Garden Proposal:  

Joshua Academy, Van Buren (Crawford County), $500 Award

Best Education Based School Garden: 

Pinnacle View Middle School, Little Rock (Pulaski County), $500 Award

Ward Central Elementary School, Ward (Lonoke), $500 Award

Best Harvest Partnership School Garden:  

The Centers, Little Rock (Pulaski), $500 Award

Clinton High School, Clinton (Van Buren), $500 Award

Best Community Collaboration School Garden:  

Sheridan Intermediate School, Sheridan (Grant), $500 Award

Central Elementary School, Van Buren (Crawford), $500 Award

Best Overall School Garden:  

Hugh Goodwin Elementary School, El Dorado (Union), $1,000

Champion of School Garden Sustainability:  

Rena Elementary School, Van Buren (Crawford), $1,000

The Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest was initiated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas in 2014. The program provides the opportunity to promote the importance of involving young people in the process of fresh food production and cultivation. Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas generously provides the funding for the program.


“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we believe it’s important to support local food system initiatives such as the Arkansas Grown School Garden Program,” said Farm Credit of Western Arkansas CEO Brandon Haberer on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. “Local food projects like this are a great way to educate the next generation and the public about food production and agriculture.”


The contest was available to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. Awardees were schools that had a school garden open during the 2022-2023 school year or planned to start a garden in the 2023-2024 school year.

“Farm to school initiatives connect Arkansas students to agriculture through school gardens, education, and procurement,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “School gardens provide hands-on learning opportunities that have a lasting impact on children, their families, and entire communities.”

Find additional photos from the event here.

2023 Arkansas Grown Magazine

For nearly a century, soybeans have played a pivotal role in Arkansas agriculture, serving as the complete nutritional package for livestock and poultry. Research scientists at the University of Arkansas are beginning to understand another reason for cattle producers to consider supplementing their feed rations with soybeans.

Read more about Soybean Checkoff-funded research 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 Rice Research and Promotion Board met on November 2 at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Board members reviewed current research activities and heard program updates from USA Rice and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) Program held its first planting ceremony on October 30 at Two Rivers Elementary School in Ola, Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division staff assisted with the planting of two Shumard oak, two swamp white oak, and one tulip poplar. Learn more about the STOP Program here.

The Society of American Foresters held its annual convention in Sacramento, California on October 24-28. The meeting brought together partners from across the country including federal, state, university, and private forestry stakeholders. Discussions at the meeting included state and national policy issues, management of national forests, climate mitigation, forest health, and more. State Forester Kyle Cunningham presented on white oak sustainability in Arkansas.

On October 24, Bentonville was Arkansas's Capital for a Day. Secretary Ward joined Governor Sanders, cabinet secretaries, and legislators to tour schools, businesses, state offices, and parks in the Northwest region of the state.

On October 20, Mena was Arkansas's Capital for a Day. Secretary Ward joined Governor Sanders, cabinet secretaries, and legislators to meet with Arkansans, visit Mena FFA students, and tour a local police station.

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:

Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board Provides Free Nematode Tests for Farmers

The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board is continuing its partnership with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service to provide complimentary soybean nematode tests to farmers through a grant made available by the Soybean Checkoff.

Nematodes can have a detrimental impact on both small plots to large fields. In susceptible crop varieties, the consequences can be significant, resulting in up to a 90% reduction in yield in small plots, 50% in strip trials, and 25-35% in field-wide commercial production fields.

Producers can claim their free testing by contacting their county extension office.

University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service to Host Avian Influenza Webinars

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will host a series of free webinars covering highly pathogenic avian influenza disease recognition and prevention in poultry flocks. All webinars will begin at 6 p.m. on the following dates:

  • November 7
  • November 9
  • November 16

Register for the free webinar series here and find recordings of previous webinars here.

First Webinar in Plan. Produce. Profit. Series to be Held November 8

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Law Center are facilitating three webinars, held in late 2023 and early 2024, as part of the Plan. Produce. Profit. series. NALC Senior Staff Attorney Rusty Rumley will present the first of the three webinars on November 8 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. (CST), titled, “Liability Issues with Food Processing Under the Arkansas Food Freedom Act.”

Webinar participants will learn how to operate under the Arkansas Food Freedom Act for selling homemade food items to the public. Funding for these webinars is provided by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crop Producers Program. Register for the webinar 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.

USDA Updates

United States Department of Agriculture Designates Disaster Areas in Arkansas

On October 30, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated two Arkansas counties as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought. This designation extends to seven contiguous Arkansas counties.

Primary Counties:

  • Perry
  • Saline

Contiguous Counties:

  • Conway
  • Faulkner
  • Garland
  • Grant
  • Hot Spring
  • Pulaski
  • Yell

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. Learn more here.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Accepting 2024 CSP and EQIP Applications Through December 8

Farmers and landowners in Arkansas have until December 8, 2023, to submit applications to receive financial assistance to implement conservation activities through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for the 2024 program year. Applicants can sign up at their local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Service Center. Learn more about the CSP here and EQIP here.

USDA to Provide More Than $3 Billion to Commodity and Specialty Crop Producers Impacted by 2022 Natural Disasters

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide more than $3 billion to commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2022. Eligible impacted producers can apply for financial assistance here through the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) 2022. The program will help offset the financial impacts of crop yield and value losses from qualifying disasters occurring in 2022.

Farmers.gov Local Dashboard Now Available for Producers in Arkansas

Arkansas farmers can now access county specific farming data and USDA resources all in one place via the new farmers.gov local dashboard. The new farmers.gov local dashboard includes farming data and USDA resources including USDA news, commodity pricing, weather forecasts, historical climate data, past storm events, USDA service center locator, and additional state resources for Arkansas.

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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Ag Facts: Arkansas Soybean Month

  • Governor Sanders has proclaimed November as Arkansas Soybean Month.
  • Arkansas farmers harvested an estimated 3.15 million acres of soybeans in 2022, producing 163.8 million bushels valued at $2.36 billion.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture estimates Arkansas farmers will harvest 2.95 million acres of soybeans in 2023 with an estimated yield of 53 bushels per acre and a total production of 156,350,000 bushels.
  • Soybeans are Arkansas’s largest row crop accounting for more acres than corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, and wheat combined.
  • Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation for soybean production.
  • Soybeans generated the highest export value among agricultural commodities for Arkansas in 2021, bringing in $911 million.
  • Soy-based products are an environmentally responsible choice and are available to manufacturers in many industries.
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