Representatives of Arkansas’s agricultural community and political leaders will be discussing state and national policies impacting farmers at the Farm Policy Summit in Little Rock this week. Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, says policies which have increased costs to farmers are among the topics to be covered.
Specific agenda items will include legislation regarding genetically enhanced food, as well as “the overreaching regulations from some of our federal agencies," Veach said, "like the EPA with Waters of the U.S., with our Clean Water Act, and then Clean Air Act with the carbon emission issues, that’s going to up our energy costs. Those kind of things. Also, Endangered Species [Act] is another one we’ll be addressing and talking about.”
Net farm income in Arkansas fell from $90 billion to just over $56 billion between 2014 and 2015, according to Veach at a pre-conference speech given Monday at the Clinton School of Public Service.
“If Wal-Mart lost 37 percent of their sales where would they be? If Apple loses 37 percent of their sales where would they be? If the banking industry lost 37 percent of its revenue where would we all be? [Farming in Arkansas] has lost that much in just one year,” said Veach.
Potential trade opportunities with Cuba will also be on the agenda at the summit which runs through Wednesday. Rice and chicken, two of Arkansas’ leading crops, are staples of the Cuban diet. Arkansas leads the nation in rice production, the price of which has steadily dropped since 2012.