Arkansas Farm to School Month

Governor Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. This recognition is part of nationwide efforts to connect schools, early childhood education sites, and other educational organizations with local farms to bring fresh, local, and healthy food to children. Read the full Arkansas Farm to School proclamation here.

The National Farm to School Network began this trend in 2010 by having National Farm to School Month designated by Congress. Since then, more and more states have joined in celebrating Farm to School Month. 

Arkansas has formally recognized Arkansas Farm to School Month since 2014, when then-governor Mike Beebe first proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. Governor Asa Hutchinson has continued the tradition every year since. This year, Arkansas Farm to School Month is themed “Connecting Schools, Farms, and the Community to Local Food."

Learn more about the Arkansas Farm to School Month and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program on the new website!
Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Elected Secretary-Treasurer of NASDA

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward was elected secretary-treasurer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) for 2021-22 at its annual conference, September 22, in Louisville, Kentucky.

“It’s a great honor to be elected as secretary-treasurer of NASDA,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “I am proud to represent Arkansas within the organization and look forward to supporting our nation’s states and territories in promoting our diverse agriculture industry.”

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, founded in 1916, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances American agriculture through policy, partnerships, and public engagement. To learn more about NASDA visit the NASDA website.
Governor Appoints New Members to Arkansas State Plant Board

Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed new members to the Arkansas State Plant Board to fill positions left vacant under an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

“The Plant Board is one of the most significant commissions for Arkansas agriculture, and I am confident this first-rate slate of new members will ensure Arkansas agriculture remains No. 1,” said Governor Hutchinson.

The General Assembly passed Act 361, which took effect July 28 and increased the number of board members from 17 to 19. Two of the 19 are nonvoting members designated by the Vice President for Agriculture of the University of Arkansas. Eight are nominated by agricultural associations and appointed by the Governor. Nine are appointed by the Governor. Two members appointed by the Governor whose terms expire March 17, 2022, remained on the Plant Board.

The Arkansas Senate must approve the appointments, which all expire October 1, 2023.
The new members are:
  • Matthew Marsh, Cammack Village: Practical rice grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of rice.
  • Mark Morgan, Clarksville: Practical horticulturist or nurseryman, actively and principally engaged in the business. Nominated by the Arkansas State Horticultural Society and the Arkansas Green Industry Association.
  • David Gammill, Tyronza: Practical corn, peanut, sorghum, turf, or wheat grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of corn, peanuts, sorghum, turf, or wheat.
  • Matt Miles, McGehee: Practical soybean grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of soybeans.
  • Mark Hopper, Mountain Home: Representing pest control operators. Nominated by the Arkansas Pest Management Association.
  • Marty Eaton, Jonesboro: Seed dealer, actively and principally engaged in the business. Nominated by the Arkansas Seed Dealers’ Association.
  • Lance Schmidt, Pocahontas: Seed grower, actively and principally engaged in the business. Nominated by the Arkansas Seed Growers Association.
  • Lester Scott, Little Rock: Representing pesticide manufacturers. Nominated by the Arkansas Crop Protection Association.
  • Mark Hartz, Stuttgart: Representing agricultural aviators. Nominated by the Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association.
  • Richard Watts, Watson: Representing the forest sector. Nominated by the Arkansas Forestry Association.
  • Nathan Reed, Marianna: Farmer, actively and principally engaged in the production of corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, turf, or wheat.
  • Travis Senter, Osceola: Farmer, actively and principally engaged in the production of corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, turf, or wheat.
  • Reynold Meyer, Eudora: Practical livestock producer, actively and principally engaged in the production of livestock.
  • Bruce Alford, Lewisville: Practical forage grower, actively and principally engaged in the production of forage.
Buffalo River Conservation Committee Meeting

The Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC) met in Jasper on September 28. Attendees heard a presentation on the development of the Marble Falls Nature Park and received updates on projects funded by the BRCC. 

If you would like to receive notice of BRCC meetings, please sign up here.
Nocturnal Pollinators

Moths may not provide a sweet treat like their daytime counterparts, the honeybees, but pollination research on apples conducted by Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station researchers shows nocturnal pollinators are equally as important to nature’s system with flowering plants.

Highlighted in July by the Journal of Economic Entomology and the Entomological Society of America, the three-year study led by Stephen Robertson, former University of Arkansas graduate assistant in the department of entomology and plant pathology, found nocturnal pollinators like moths are just as capable of pollinating apple trees at night as bees are during the day.

Read more about the study on nocturnal pollinators here.
Arkansas Soybean Association Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Challenge

The Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Challenge is pleased to announce that Neil Culp has set a new state record in the yield contest with 130.784 bushels per acre. Culp planted Asgrow 45X8 on April 13, 2021 in a field in Phillips County. 

Culp is the 24th producer to claim a spot in the 100 Bushel Club. Others who have entered the contest are reminded to turn in their harvest reports since there is additional prize money available in 8 divisions.

This contest is funded by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board using producer checkoff funds and is managed by the Arkansas Soybean Association. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is a major component of the contest by providing information to producers and serving as judges. The contest fields consist of five to seven acres and must have been planted in soybeans at least once in the previous three years.

Culp, along with the other division winners in the contest, will be recognized at the Annual Meeting of the Arkansas Soybean Association in January 2022. To view previous winners and contest details visit their website.
Shade Trees on Playgrounds Program Accepting School Applications through October 8

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is accepting applications for the 2021 Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program through October 8, 2021. Arkansas schools needing additional shade on playgrounds can find the STOP program application and guidelines here.

Selected schools receive up to five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies, and planting guidelines. Officials with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division will help plant the trees during a ceremony with students this fall.

Find more information about the application period and requirements here.
Arkansas Urban and Community Forestry Grant Recipients Announced

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is awarding Urban and Community Forestry Grants to four entities for community projects that will develop, improve, and/or promote urban and community trees and forests.

The four selected entities and projects are:
  • City of Goshen - Goshen Trees and Parks Project
  • City of Walnut Ridge - Stewart Park Improvement Project
  • Eureka Springs Parks & Recreation - Open Space Assessment and Glade Restoration Project
  • University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service - Green Parking Lot Demonstration Projects in Mountain Home and Searcy 

Read the full press release and learn more about the grant program here.
Photo Features
Smokey Bear made an appearance at the Prairie County Fair this week!
Black Hawk helicopters assisted with the Arkansas Prescribed Burn School this week at Camp Robinson.
Webinars and Trainings
Foreign Ownership of Agriculture Land: Legal Background and Update

Ownership of U.S. land, specifically agricultural lands, by foreign persons or entities has been an issue dating back to the origins of the United States. This webinar will be held October 20, 2021 at 11 a.m. CDT. Topics will include the past, present, and future of federal and state laws as well as legislative proposals relating to foreign ownership of agricultural land. 

Specifically, the webinar will address federal and state reporting statutes as well as existing and proposed federal state laws that seek to restrict or prohibit foreign ownership and/or other legal interests in farmland. The webinar will also address noteworthy judicial developments in this area, as well as a review of the level of foreign ownership/legal interests in agricultural land.

Center Director of the National Agricultural Law Center Harrison Pittman will present the webinar. Learn more and register here.
The Western Water Crisis and What it Means for Agriculture

Water is of the utmost importance to raising American food and growing American fiber. What happens when one of our most critical inputs is compromised across sectors and geographies?

Throughout the American West, water storage is falling to unprecedented lows. Join the National Agriculture Law Center for a webinar discussion on October 17, 2021 at 11 a.m. CDT about the water challenges agriculture faces as well as the opportunities presented by the current water crisis.

Water expert James Eklund, whose family has ranched for five generations in the Colorado River Basin, will provide a briefing on the current situation. Eklund will then lead a discussion about the next steps for American agriculture in light of climate-influenced aridification. Eklund is the Co-Founder & CEO, Eklund Hanlon, LLC. Learn more and register here.
Virtual Rice and Soybean Field Day

Research advancements in rice and soybeans, two of the top agricultural commodities in Arkansas, will be the focus of a virtual field day Thursday, October 7 from 6-8 p.m. The field day will be presented by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The online field day is free, but registration is required to connect. Attendees can register online here, up until the event starts.

The format for the online field day will consist of pre-recorded presentations with a Q&A session that allows viewers to ask Division of Agriculture scientists questions about how the research applies to their crops and operations.
USDA Updates
USDA Extends Deadline to Apply for Pandemic Assistance to Livestock Producers with Animal Losses

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing additional time for livestock and poultry producers to apply for the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP). Producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing may now apply for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals through October 12, 2021 rather than the original deadline of Sept. 17, 2021. PLIP is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

PLIP provides payments to producers for losses of livestock or poultry depopulated from March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020, due to insufficient processing access as a result of the pandemic. Payments are based on 80% of the fair market value of the livestock and poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animal. Eligible livestock and poultry include swine, chickens, and turkeys. To read more about the PLIP Program visit here.
USDA Announces $3 Billion Investment in Agriculture, Animal Health, and Nutrition; Unveils New Climate Partnership Initiative, Requests Public Input

On September 29, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a comprehensive set of investments to address challenges facing America’s agricultural producers. These include assistance to address challenges and costs associated with drought, animal health, market disruptions for agricultural commodities, and school food supply chain issues. Secretary Vilsack also outlined and requested public comments on a new climate partnership initiative designed to create new revenue streams for producers via market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.

USDA is preparing $3 billion in investments that will support drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention, market disruption relief, and purchase of food for school nutrition programs. The support will be made available via the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Read the full announcement here to learn more.
NASS to Send 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey

This October, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will mail its first Hemp Acreage and Production Survey. The survey will collect information on the total planted and harvested area, yield, production, and value of hemp in the United States.

The Domestic Hemp Production Program established in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) allows for the cultivation of hemp under certain conditions. The Hemp Acreage and Production Survey will provide needed data about the hemp industry to assist producers, regulatory agencies, state governments, processors, and other key industry entities.

Producers may complete the survey online at or they may complete and return the survey by mail using the return envelope provided.
Learn more about the survey at
2021 USDA Fall Virtual Data Users' Meeting

The USDA's NASS will host a two-day virtual USDA Fall Data Users’ Meeting on October 13-14, 2021 from noon - 3:00 p.m. ET. The event is regularly held to share recent and pending program changes, and to solicit comments and input on various data and information programs important to agriculture. This online Data Users’ Meeting is free of charge and open to the public. Links to the webinar will be shared with participants after registration.

This event is organized by NASS in cooperation with the World Agricultural Outlook Board, Farm Service Agency, Economic Research Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and the U.S. Census Bureau. Leaders from each agency will be available to take questions and comments.

To view the complete agenda and register for the meeting, visit here. For more information, contact Marisa Reuber at [email protected] or (202) 690-3099.
NIFA Announces $30 Million Investment

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of over $30 million for 33 grants that support farmers and ranchers who grow and market high-quality organic food, fiber, and other organic products. This investment is part of NIFA’s Organic Agriculture Program.

NIFA’s investment in Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative projects will help fund research, education, and extension projects to improve yields, quality, and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards. NIFA’s investment in Organic Transitions Program projects will support research, education, and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness.

Learn more about these organic grant opportunities here.
2021 Arkansas Grown

It's Arkansas Farm to School Month! Read about how Farm to School programs adapted during the challenges of COVID 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.
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: Arkansas Farm to School Month
  • Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools, early childhood education centers, and alternative learning environments.
  • Arkansas's early childhood education facilities, K-12 schools, and alternative learning environments have been identified as a significant market for local and regional food products, with $11.8 million spent on local food, either grown in Arkansas, and/or packaged and processed in Arkansas.
  • 731 educational facilities in Arkansas participate in Farm to School.
  • 346,080 students in Arkansas participate in or are impacted by Farm to School.
  • There are 310 school gardens throughout the state.
  • 44 farms and businesses sell locally grown and made products to school districts, and 34 schools buy local food from farmers and local businesses in Arkansas.
  • Farm to school programs connect Arkansas's growers and local food producers to Arkansas's schools with the goal of serving healthy meals and snacks to improve access to healthy food, improve student nutrition, and increase economic opportunities for local food system providers.
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