Arkansas Agriculture

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
Creative Commons

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
Creative Commons

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.

Science Cafe: Urban Farming in Little Rock

Feb 28, 2018

Where does our food come from? When you're in the grocery story do you ever wonder if it's local, genetically-modified and cage-free? Is it organic?

In this month's episode of Science Cafe we’ll visit with Chris Hiryak, the director of Little Rock Urban Farming. Chris was a UA Little Rock Donaghey Scholar who made organic farming, a career. You can hear the episode above.

On this month's episode Arkansas Public Media's Bobby Ampazzan filled in for regular host Dorothy Graves.

Leaders from Arkansas’s sizable rice industry are coming together to seek a compromise on the divisive issue of agricultural burning, which tends to inflame relations each fall between farmers who burn residue off their fields and people who say they’re creating a public health hazard that can be seen and smelled for miles.

That concern was one of the leading issues at the Arkansas Rice Federation's annual meeting this week in Jonesboro. Most farmers, according to Jeff Rutledge with the Arkansas Rice Council, want to be good neighbors.

“Our families are raised here, and we breathe this air, too,” he said.

In Arkansas, there is a kind of David vs. Goliath battle underway over a weedkiller.

On one side, there is the giant Monsanto Company. On the other, a committee of 18 people, mostly farmers and small-business owners, that regulates the use of pesticides in the state. It has banned Monsanto's latest way of killing weeds during the growing season.

Terry Fuller is on that committee. He never intended to pick a fight with a billion-dollar company. "I didn't feel like I was leading the charge," he says. "I felt like I was just trying to do my duty."

Lawmakers are expected to begin work next month on the sweeping legislation known as the Farm Bill.  The bill covers dozens of nutrition, agricultural and rural policies that affect everyday life.

While discussions around the Farm Bill often focus on food stamps, the supplemental food program that assists millions of Americans, including about one in seven Arkansas residents, this year lawmakers are also concentrating on agricultural safety net programs for farmers.

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