Arkansas Agriculture

Mary Hightower / University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

With talk of tit-for-tat and trade wars dominating national business headlines, the impact of retaliatory tariffs on American products and commodities is giving some Arkansas agriculture officials pause.

After hearing about a dozen complaints from farmers, growers and applicators around the state, the Arkansas Agriculture Department has issued a statement urging strict adherence to the label instructions for loyant, a newly-released rice herbicide made by Dow AgroSciences.

State Agriculture Department spokesperson Adriane Barnes said the decision to issue the advisory was made out of concern for soybeans, which are still early in the growing season.

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A Trump administration official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to Little Rock Wednesday to announce both new water infrastructure projects and the latest efforts to curb the growing opioid epidemic.

Anne Hazlett, who serves as Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave the keynote speech at a rural development conference in Little Rock Wednesday.

At the food pantry in Cherry Valley in rural Northeast Arkansas, clients start lining up hours before its 10am opening.  The pantry is open every Tuesday for two hours, unlike other pantries that open once or twice a month.

“In this area, they just can’t go a whole month without us,” said director Joan Ball.  

Ball and other advocates for the poor worry that business will pick up at pantries and soup kitchens if food stamp work requirements drafted as part of the 2018 Farm Bill end up becoming law.  Ball said the last two weeks of the month are already the busiest as people who’ve already spent their food stamps seek additional ways to feed themselves or their families.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

Arkansas is asking the state's top court to halt a judge's order allowing six farmers to use an herbicide that was banned by state regulators following complaints that it drifted onto crops and caused damage.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to stay Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox's ruling exempting the farmers from the state Plant Board's rule banning dicamba's use. The panel has banned dicamba's use from April 16 through October 31 this year. Rutledge on Wednesday filed notice she was appealing Fox's ruling.

Picture of a tractor on a farm
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Corn and rice planting is underway in the Natural State but it’s a slow go in Northeast Arkansas. Rains and cold temperatures have stymied farmers’ efforts to get seeds into the ground, Craighead County extension agent Branon Thiesse told Talk Business & Politics. Less than 400 of the estimated 338,000 agriculture acres in the county have been planted, he said.

“We need to see some warm weather to warm the soil. … They (farmers) are getting concerned,” he said.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

Controversy has raged within the Arkansas farming community for years about the use of the herbicide, dicamba, and its impacts. The Arkansas State Plant Board allowed one formulation, Engenia dicamba, to be used during the 2017 growing season.

But after the board received numerous damage-related complaints from the herbicide drifting onto non-dicamba row crop fields, gardens, and other vegetation, the board banned dicamba in July 2017, and later opted to ban it in 2018.

Jeff Vanuga / Photo courtesy of USDA

A panel of the Arkansas House today approved a bill imposing limits on how and when people can raise challenges to farms that hold special permits to discharge liquid animal waste.

Rep. Jeff Wardlaw said the bill was needed to protect bankers who lend money to farmers.

The Republican lawmaker from Hermitage told the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday that allowing a series of lawsuits over issues raised in public comment periods put the farmers' investments at risk.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

A handful of Arkansas environmental advocacy groups are seeking to block legislation from being considered that could allow a controversial hog farm to keep operating.

Newton County-based C&H Hog Farms has come under scrutiny in recent years due to concerns over waste runoff into the Buffalo National River Watershed. The farm sits on Big Creek, a major tributary of the Buffalo.

Picture of a tractor on a farm
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Agriculture officials in Arkansas are concerned President Trump’s proposed steel tariff could have consequences that would negatively impact the industry. The administration has floated a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum

But U.S. Representative Rick Crawford, who represents one of the nation's highest steel producing counties along with some of the state's most fertile Delta lands, says it's time to take some action in a trade war he says China's already been waging for years.

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